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Respect key to mending damaged relations

By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-01-29 09:51
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Vice-Foreign Minister Le Yucheng has called on China and the United States to build mutual respect, reverse the wrong course on bilateral ties, renew cooperation and fulfill key global responsibilities.

The senior diplomat used the four "Rs"-respect, reversal, renewal and responsibility-to explain Beijing's position on developing China-US ties during his address to the Vision China event on Thursday.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger's historic visit to China, a prelude to the normalization of diplomatic ties.

In his speech titled "Anything is possible when China and the United States choose to cooperate", Le said "the challenges we face today call for the same vision and courage to break the ice again".

Le said mutual respect is the foundation for successful people-to-people and state-to-state interactions and "it is not a difficult starting point".

While some people doubt the need to respect China as it is a strategic competitor of the US, Le said,"We don't even think the relationship should be defined by 'competition', because we keep challenging ourselves, not the United States."

"The only thing that China asks of the United States is to respect the development path we have chosen, respect our legitimate interests, respect our pursuit of a better life and to quit its obsession with changing or splitting China," he added.

China-US relations in the last four years have seen growing mistrust, division and hatred. Le said both sides must "act without further delay to reverse the wrong course". "A lot of repair (work) has to be done. I agree with American friends' suggestions that both sides take small steps first to create conditions for improving the relationship. But we have to act now to bring China-US relations back on track," he said.

As some work between the two governments has ground to a halt, the diplomat said the countries' shared interests and need for cooperation "far outweigh our differences". He said controlling COVID-19, the economic recovery and climate change could be priorities for cooperation in the short term.

China will continue to support the COVID-19 response of the US, increase experience-sharing on diagnostics and treatment, and work more closely with the United States on the research, production and distribution of vaccines, he said. Beijing will also enhance macroeconomic policy coordination with Washington to help the global economic recovery, and collaboration on climate change is expected to be renewed. "Our closer results-oriented cooperation on clean energy, low-carbon technologies, and environmental protection will go a long way toward protecting Mother Earth," he said.

On shouldering responsibilities on the global stage, Le quoted a Chinese proverb that "A bigger boat is meant to carry more weight" as well as an American saying that "Responsibilities gravitate to the person who can shoulder them".

"As two major countries in the world, China and the United States should shoulder important responsibilities for world peace and development. Our choice and action today will have a far-reaching impact on the future of our world," he said.

Le cited successful cooperation, such as tackling the 2008 global financial crisis, combating the Ebola virus in 2014 and collaborating on the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The two countries can work together to avoid the so-called Thucydides Trap, he said. "There is no predestined fate for the world. The future of China-US relations, and the future of the world, depend on what vision we embrace and what choice we make."

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