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Xi scores major diplomatic success in San Francisco

By Harald Brüning | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-23 08:06
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President Xi Jinping meets with US President Joe Biden at Filoli Estate in the US state of California, Nov 15, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States for his summit meeting with his US counterpart Joe Biden, as well as the 2023 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in San Francisco last week, on the outskirts of the United States' most ethnically Chinese city, has turned out to be a major success for China's diplomacy.

Xi delivered three important speeches during his stay in the City by the Bay — an address at the Welcome Dinner by Friendly Organizations in the United States, a written speech at the APEC CEO Summit, and the one at the 30th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting.

For me, his speech at the welcome dinner hosted by a raft of influential entities such as the National Committee on US-China Relations, US-China Business Council, Asia Society, Council on Foreign Relations and US Chamber of Commerce was his most salient and personal one. Xi received a standing ovation during the gala reception-cum-banquet attended by the US business elites.

The speech had an emotional touch to it, such as when Xi recalled his "unforgettable first face-to-face contact with the Americans" while staying with the Dvorchak family in Iowa back in 1985 when he was a county leader in Hebei province.

In his speech, Xi underlined that 158 years ago, a large number of Chinese workers came all the way to the US to build the first transcontinental railroad and established the first Chinatown in the Western Hemisphere.

I visited San Francisco with a Macao media delegation over two decades ago, and I liked "Baghdad by the Bay" (one of San Fran's over a dozen nicknames) much more, for instance, than Las Vegas. Its distinct Chinese cultural factors and multiculturalism reminded me, to a certain extent, of Macao.

Xi also gave his high-powered audience a brief history lesson by pointing out that "our two countries initiated together with others the San Francisco Conference (April-June 1945), which helped found the United Nations, and China was the first country to sign the UN Charter", adding that "starting from San Francisco, the post-war international order was established".

The president, whose previous visit to the US took place six years ago, also noted that "the future of China-US relations will be created by our peoples".

"The world needs China and the United States to work together for a better future," Xi said.

I couldn't agree more. One can only hope that Brussels will prick up its ears. The EU, which includes Germany as the world's number four economic power, needs to work together with China as well for our troubled planet's better future.

In a shocking case of political mistiming, around the time Xi was visiting the US, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged the EU's 27 member states in two recent speeches in Berlin to get moving with the "de-risking" of economic ties with China or prepare for their businesses to be "steamrollered by unfair Chinese competition".

Frankly, I am tired of hearing Western politicians uttering, ad nauseam, their hackneyed "de-risking" from China stuff. I am sure that entrepreneurs know much better than politicians how to protect themselves against business risks by re- and de-risking their investments periodically.

Xi stressed that just as mutual respect is a basic code of behaviour for individuals, it is fundamental for China-US relations. I am convinced that the lack of mutual respect between countries with different political, economic, social and cultural value systems is one of the main reasons for the deplorable state that international relations are in right now. The other main problem is that the West continues with its erroneous attempt of ensuring the Westernization of the rest of the world, following its centuries-long colonization drive that only ended in the 1970s, such as by trying to impose its political, cultural and social value systems on countries that have their own going back hundreds or even thousands of years.

Xi underlined that he and Biden have agreed to promote dialogue and cooperation, in the spirit of mutual respect, in areas including people-to-people exchanges, education, science and technology, military contacts, law enforcement, and artificial intelligence. I am cautiously optimistic that his appeal for the renewal of amity between the world's politically and economically two most important countries will start to bear fruit before long. Where there's a will there's a way. What matters most is, as always, whether there's a will.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who accompanied Xi on his trip, expounded on it by saying that the summit has been able to establish the "San Francisco Vision" orientated toward the future, but added that "there are still many deep-seated and structural problems, and many risks and challenges that need to be addressed jointly", noting that "San Francisco should not be the finish line but a new starting point."

Well, I am convinced that pragmatic realism lays the most solid foundation for constructive politics, both nationally and internationally.

The author is the director of the Macau Post Daily.The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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