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Speech by Consul General Hong Lei at Ambassador Leonard Woodcock Legacy Seminar
2017-09-14 00:22

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Good afternoon.

I would like to thank Ambassador Leonard Woodcock Legacy for inviting me to attend the seminar today. I’m very pleased to share my thoughts about China-U.S. relations and cooperation between China and Michigan with you.

China-U.S. relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. Since Ambassador Woodcock was appointed by President Carter as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China, China-U.S. relations have gone through 40 years and achieved historic breakthrough and development despite ups and downs. In today’s world of multi-polarization and economic globalization, close interaction and deep cooperation between China and the U.S. have reached an unprecedented level, so as the challenges and opportunities. Under these new circumstances, China and the U.S. are more and more actively looking for win-win cooperation, aiming to build a new model of major-country relations and write a new chapter of China-U.S. relations.

China-U.S. relations in the new era have the following features: first, high level exchange leads the development of bilateral relations. Since the beginning of this year, President Xi Jinping and President Trump have had two meetings in Mar-a-Lago in Florida and at the G20 Hamburg Summit, which provides guidance for the development of China-U.S. relations. The two leaders also maintained active and close contact via phone calls, letters and other channels, which sets a positive tone for the bilateral relations. In the latter half of this year, invited by President Xi Jinping, President Trump will make a state visit to China. Our two sides are actively preparing for this visit. In accordance with the consensus reached by the two leaders, China and the U.S. are injecting in new momentum to the bilateral relations through in-depth dialogue and coordination to promote new development in cooperation in different fields. The two sides have set up four high-level dialogue mechanisms on diplomacy and security, economy, law enforcement and cyber security, as well as social and people-to-people exchanges. Important achievements were realized in June in the first round of the Diplomacy and Security Dialogue. In July, the first round of the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue also bore fruitful results. Under the planning and guidance of the two leaders, China-U.S. relations are marching forward on the road of mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

Second, economic and trade cooperation reveals China-U.S. relations’ nature of mutual benefit and win-win results. Trade and economic cooperation is the stabilizer and propeller in China-U.S. relations. As of today, China and the U.S. are the two largest economies, accounting for 40% of the world economy. Our export of goods account for about 25% of the world’s total with outward and inward FDI both close to 30% of the world. In 2016, the trade of goods between China and the U.S. exceeded US$520 billion, the trade of services surpassed US$110 billion, and two-way investment was over US$200 billion cumulatively. China is the largest market outside of North America and one of the major export markets for the U.S. with the highest growing speed. U.S. investment has brought to China invaluable experience, technology, talent and management, promoted development of related industries in China and facilitated industrialization and urbanization of China. At the same time, investments from Chinese enterprises have covered almost all the states in the U.S., creating over 140,000 jobs, many of which are in the manufacturing sector. Chinese investment contributes more and more to local economic development, employment, revenue, etc., which illustrates the interdependence between our two countries.

Third, people-to-people exchanges bring two peoples closer. The key to sound relations between nations lies in the affinity between their peoples, which largely stems from mutual understanding. People-to-people exchanges are the bridge for enhancing understanding and trust between countries and peoples and one of the most vibrant component in China-U.S. relations. Today, there are 257 pairs of sister provinces/states and cities between China and the U.S. and over 27 million Chinese and American people have participated in people-to-people exchanges. The number of Chinese students studying here is close to 330,000, making China the largest source of international students for the U.S.. American students studying in China amounts to about 22,000, which makes the U.S. the second largest source of international students for China. As the “100,000 Strong” Initiative was accomplished, the U.S. has put forward the grander “One Million Strong” Initiative. The initiative set the goal of having 1 million American students learn Chinese by 2020. Helped by the 10-year business and travel visa with multiple entries, the number of Chinese visitors to the U.S. keeps growing, with over 2.6 million in 2015. The bloom of people-to-people exchanges has gone beyond expectation and demonstrated its infinite charm and strong vitality.

Fourth, cooperation and coordination in multilateral issues demonstrates international responsibilities. As permanent members of the UN Security Council and the largest two economies, China and the U.S. shoulder special and important missions in maintaining world peace and stability and facilitating global development and prosperity. In recent years, China and the U.S. have been in close communication and coordination and played important roles not only in tackling international challenges such as international financial crisis, climate change, energy security and food security, but also in solving regional hot-spot issues such as Korean nuclear issue, Iran nuclear issue and Syria issue, etc. President Xi Jinping pointed out while meeting with President Trump that there are many international and regional issues where China and the U.S. should and could cooperate. Enhancing communication and cooperation is beneficial to both countries and the world. Practice has proved that China and the U.S. have built mature cooperation models in many fields in global governance. The international community expects China and the U.S. to play constructive roles in promoting economic development and solving global problems, regional conflicts and hot-spot issues so as to benefit the world.

Fifth, sub-national cooperation has shown bright future. Michigan, California, Texas, New York, Iowa, Washington and Chicago have established joint working groups on trade and investment cooperation with Chinese provinces and cities. Under these mechanisms, the two sides have conducted cooperation in infrastructure, bio-pharmaceutical, electronic information, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, finance, tourism, environmental protection, convention and exhibition, professional services and cross-border electronic commerce, etc. The cooperation makes the people of the two countries pay more visits to each other, brings more convenience to joint programs, deepens the friendship of the two peoples and broadens bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation. Last year alone, these mechanisms have promoted almost 50 bilateral investing projects with contract value exceeding US$2.5 billion. This year, there have been almost 100 business visits between the states and provinces. The nine states in the Midwest within the consular district of Consulate General in Chicago have achieved huge development in their relationship with China. By the end of 2016, investments from Chinese enterprises in the nine states amounted to US$20 billion, creating almost 45,000 jobs. The number of Chinese students in the nine states are close to 80,000 and more and more American students started learning Chinese.

In China-U.S. sub-national exchanges, the State of Michigan has always been at the forefront, actively committed to conducting pragmatic cooperation with China on different levels and in different fields. Governor Snyder highly values the relationship with China and has visited China annually in the 7 years since he took office. He visited major cities, such as Bejing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen among others, introducing Michigan’s industrial advantages and investment environment, which has largely enhanced cooperation in various fields between Michigan and China, especially with Guangzhou, China’s highly developed province. During Governor Snyder’s visit last month, he met with Premier Li Keqiang, celebrated the first anniversary of the sister state/province relationship between Michigan and Guangdong with Governor Ma Xingrui and celebrated the 35th anniversary of the sister state/province relationship between Michigan and Sichuan with Governor Yin Li. I would like to note that after the Jiuzhaigou earthquake, Governor Snyder, who just finished his visit to China, sent instantly his condolences to the earthquake stricken area in a statement, which showed Michigan people’s deep friendship with the Sichuan people.

The economic and trade relationship between China and Michigan is getting increasingly interdependent. China is Michigan’s third largest trade partner and export market, with trade volume surpassing US$12 billion. To the auto companies such as General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, China is a big market. The big-three’s car sale accounts for 13% of the market share in China. General Motors’ annual sale in China is more than 3.6 million cars, with about 10,000 cars being sold daily. Ford sold more than 1.27 million cars in China last year, with a 14% annual increase, setting a historic record. In June this year, the Chinese e-commerce Giant Alibaba held an e-commerce forum in Detroit, aiming to facilitate communication and cooperation between American small & medium size companies and Chinese consumers. By now, in terms of China’s investment in the U.S., the number of Chinese investment projects in Michigan ranks No.2 in America, the number of jobs created by Chinese investments ranks No.3 and the total Chinese investments in Michigan ranks No.4. From 2010, Chinese companies have newly invested US$1.1 billion in Michigan, creating about 5500 jobs. After the acquisition of Michigan's Nexteer Automotive by China's AVIC Automobile Industry Co., Ltd., the number of employees increased from 3000 in 2010 to 5000 now. Yanfeng Automotive Trim Systems Co., Ltd. has established a number of plants and technology centers since it entered the U.S. market and now has more than 10,000 employees with approximately 4,400 of them in Michigan. In the future, there will be more Chinese investment like this in the U.S., bringing more benefits to the two peoples.

The cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Michigan are booming. Currently, over 11,000 Chinese students are studying in Michigan, bridging younger generations of Chinese and Americans. We have established 4 Confucius Institutes and 4 Confucius Classes in Michigan to meet the increasing demand from American students in learning Chinese. During the Chinese Spring Festival this year, entrusted by Party Secretary Hu Chunhua and Governor Ma Xingrui of Guangdong Province, the Guangdong Friendship Working Group and Provincial Art Troupe visited Detroit and brought the best wishes of the people of Guangdong to the people of Michigan. This past July, the 100-year-old Detroit Symphony Orchestra visited and performed in Suzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing and Shanghai. Its performances received the warmest welcome by Chinese Classical music lovers. I was lucky to have watched both performances and the passion and ceaseless applause from both Chinese and American audience give me full confidence in the prospects of cultural exchanges between China and the U.S..

Sub-national cooperation plays an important role in the development of China-U.S. relations. State-to-state relations ultimately rely on the support of the people and serve the people. Without successful cooperation at the sub-national level, it would be very difficult to achieve practical results for cooperation at the national level. Over the past 30 plus years, the growth of our relations has been achieved with support of local governments and their people. Going forward, it will continue to draw strength from and deliver benefits to them. Currently, China-U.S. relations have maintained steady growth, with deepening practical cooperation in all areas. As economic globalization continues to deepen, new breakthroughs in industrial upgrading are in the making, and factors of production are flowing at a faster pace across borders. Breakthroughs are being made in novel industries. All these new developments have provided broader space for exchanges and cooperation between China and Michigan.

First, the immense size of the Chinese economy means tremendous business opportunities. China has a population of over 1.3 billion. If we just look at Michigan’s two sister provinces in China, Guangdong has a population of over 100 million, the population of Sichuan also exceeds 80 million. The two provinces combined have a population equivalent to two-thirds of the entire U.S. population. Moreover, in China, we are pursuing a new type of industrialization, developing information technology, promoting urbanization and agricultural modernization and implementing a strategy of innovation-driven development. This process will generate enormous demands for products, technologies and services from abroad. In the next five years, China is expected to import US$8 trillion of products and invest over US$750 billion overseas; and outbound visits by the Chinese people will exceed 700 million. We welcome the state of Michigan to fully utilize the existing sister state/province relations and trade and investment cooperation mechanisms with China to advance cooperation with Guangdong, Sichuan and other Chinese provinces and cities to bring benefits to both sides.

Second, the two sides need to take advantage of favorable policies and reforms introduced by the two countries. Reform is a prevailing trend in today’s world. China will stay committed to reform and opening-up. For example, we have established pilot free trade zones in Guangdong, Sichuan and 9 other provinces with the aim of integrating with international trade and economic standards and comprehensively deepening reform and opening-up. China is also advancing the “Belt and Road” Initiative at a faster pace to build platforms for different parts of China to expand their external cooperation. The U.S. and other countries are welcome to participate in the “Belt and Road” Initiative. Guangzhou is the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road. Sichuan is the critical junction of the Belt and Road routes. Therefore, the two provinces have unique advantages in deepening their partnerships with Michigan. The U.S. is also restructuring your economy and reinvigorating your manufacturing sector. The government of Michigan has rolled out a series of policies and measures to increase export and attract foreign investment. I believe these policies would attract more Chinese firms to establish their presence here in Michigan.

Third, the two sides need to unlock more local potentials for complementary cooperation. The key to successful cooperation is to leverage our respective strengths. Many areas in China and the U.S. boast unique local strengths, which are highly complementary. We need to make full use of these strengths in our cooperation. Let me cite two examples: Michigan is the largest manufacturer of automobile in the U.S. with strong capacity in research and development. Chinese provinces, including Guangdong and Sichuan are also actively developing the auto industry. The two sides can not only cooperate in developing new energy and autonomous vehicles but also jointly explore third-party markets globally. Moreover, China is making great efforts in protecting the eco-system, spending over 200 billion dollars each year on environmental protection. In this regard, China has the demand and the market, while Michigan has the technology and the expertise. Therefore, environmental protection constitutes another important area of cooperation.

Forth, the two sides need to strengthen exchanges between governments, businesses and the two peoples. Relatives and friends become closer if they visit each other more often. Governor Snyder visits China on a yearly basis. In 2015, then Guangdong Deputy Party Secretary Ma Xingrui visited Michigan. In 2016, Guangdong Party Secretary Hu Chunhua and Sichuan Vice Governor Wang Ning visited Michigan respectively. There are also countless exchanges between China and Michigan in culture, education, tourism and sports. I am pleased to share with you the news that, within three days, a Chinese Ping-Pong delegation made up by world champions will visit the University of Michigan and join with our American friends to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Ping-Pong Diplomacy. The rapid development of Michigan-China ties shows that frequent exchanges between different communities creates solid foundation for friendly relationship and practical cooperation. We want to create more platforms for the people-to-people exchanges between Michigan and Chinese provinces and cities so as to build a broader and stronger bridge of friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The development of China-U.S. relations in the last 40 years demonstrates that no matter what changes may lie ahead, mutual respect and win-win cooperation should remain as the defining feature of China-U.S. relations and the only right option for both countries. I believe that with the support of our friends from all walks of life, exchanges and cooperation between China and Michigan will be more diverse and active. With the joint efforts of both sides, the ship of China-U.S. relations shall keep sailing along its proper cause towards a better tomorrow.

Thank you.

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