Remarks at the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE)

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
with Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
April 12, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon and welcome to the Ben Franklin Room here in the diplomatic rooms of the State Department. I am delighted, once again, to greet and welcome State Councilor Liu, who has been my partner and the leader in what we are doing here today. We have many reasons celebrate the achievements of our people-to-people engagement since last year. And I would like especially to thank Vice Minister Hao for his leadership on the Chinese side and Under Secretary McHale for her leadership on the American side. The two of you have made this initiative a success that we can build on into the future.

I understand you had excellent sessions yesterday. And today, we would like to begin with a video in which our exchange alumni – young men and women, some of whom are with us today – explain in their own words what people-to-people exchanges mean to them, because as the state councilor and I have discussed, ever since she first came to see me two years ago and then reciprocated when I was in Beijing, and we have been committed to bringing our two people closer together. I think it is fair to say she and I are the mothers of this initiative. (Laughter.) (Applause.)

So, Under Secretary, are we ready for the video?

UNDER SECRETARY MCHALE: Yes, we are. Thank you.

(Video was played.) (Applause.)

(Under Secretary McHale and Vice Minister Hao Ping gave reports.)

COUNCILOR LIU: Secretary Hillary Clinton, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I’m delighted to come here again in this beautiful spring with flowers in full bloom in Washington.

Two years ago, Secretary Clinton and I met here, and we together envisioned the establishment of a mechanism of China-U.S. people-to-people exchange. One and a half years ago, during President Obama’s visit to China, with a strategic vision, our two presidents made an important decision of establishing a new bilateral mechanism to facilitate people-to-people exchange. One year ago in Beijing, Secretary Clinton and I together launched the high-level consultation on people-to-people exchange. Just now, Under Secretary McHale and Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping briefed us on the achievements under this mechanism over the past year.

We’re greatly encouraged by the progress we have made. Thanks to this mechanism, the people of our two countries – in particular, the students of elementary schools, high schools, and universities have been able to feel the charm of diverse cultures of our two countries and experience the joy of getting to know and understand each other. Last January, during President Hu Jintao’s successful visit to the U.S., the two presidents reached important agreement of building a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, opening a new chapter for our relations. The two presidents also made new strategic plans for enhancing people-to-people exchange.

The purpose of my visit this time is to work with Secretary Clinton and other American friends, both old and new, to follow up on the agreement reached by our two presidents – promote China-U.S. people-to-people exchange and push forward the China-U.S. cooperative partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen, the key to sound relations between states lies in amity between the people, and the key to amity between people lies in heart-to-heart exchange. People-to-people exchange is a bridge for understanding trust between states and between peoples. It also provides an inexhaustible driving force for deepening China-U.S. relations. At present, there are rare opportunities for development of our relations and people-to-people exchange.

I’m more than happy to see that yesterday, after eight hours of intensive consultations, our two teams identified more than 40 joint outcomes in the six fields, namely education, science, technology, culture, women’s issues, youth, and sports. This serves as the basis for us to bridge out into new areas, initiate new programs, and to create new bright spots in our cooperation. At this moment, I can feel that the seeds of people-to-people exchange sowed by our two presidents are taking roots and are beginning to flourish, demonstrating strong vigor and vitality. The beautiful spring of China-U.S. people-to-people exchange has arrived.

Here, I wish to express my gratitude to the two presidents, to the two teams for their extraordinary dedication and their collaboration, and to the people, both in China and the U.S., across the sectors for their active involvement. I also want to, in particular, thank Madam Secretary for your outstanding contribution. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, in the new era, we need to bring new ideas and new dimensions to people-to-people exchange. To achieve this, first, I think people-to-people exchange should be people-oriented. We should work hard to build a structure of people-to-people exchange that involves both the governments and the people, and welcomes all kinds of players. Our exchange should be open, and the people should become the main participants, which would carry out wide-ranging exchange activities with clear priorities and invite people across sectors to join our worthy cause.

Second, our people-to-people exchange should be world-oriented, which would always end at promoting world peace and development, and act in the spirit of mutual respect, openness, and inclusiveness. We should learn from each other, draw on each other’s strength, and seek common ground while reserving differences so as to set a shining example of relations between states that are different in culture, social system, and level of development, and make the 21st century one that is truly peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous.

Third, the people-to-people exchange new era should be future-oriented. We should keep pace with the times and take innovative actions to be more conscious of the importance of people-to-people exchange, which is vital to everlasting friendship between us. I’m particularly pleased that the two sides agree to incorporate women’s exchange and dialogue into our people-to-people exchange mechanisms. We should also pay special attention to increased understanding and the friendship between the young people of our two countries so that our friendship will be passed down from generation to generation.

Ladies and gentlemen, 200 years ago, the vessel Empress of China left Boston for China, marking the start of friendly exchange between China and the U.S. Sixty years ago, China and the U.S. fought side by side and made important contribution to the victory of war against fascism. Thirteen million Chinese people made the ultimate sacrifice for this noble cause. Over 2,000 American invasion personnel laid down their lives on the Chinese soil. Their stories are still being told.

I have kept an old photograph which tells the story of my father, who was an army commander during the war against Japanese aggression, and his soldiers rescuing American pilots, despite the danger of losing their lives. During the rescue operation, my father lost three of his soldiers. Forty years ago, the (inaudible) of exchange between China and the U.S. was reopened thanks to the ping-pong diplomacy. The small ball gave a push to the big globe, and since then, China-U.S. relations have embarked on the journey of improvement and development.

Yesterday evening, I had the privilege of attending dinner together with the trailblazers, builders, and the witnesses to the over forty years of China-U.S. relations, including Dr. Kissinger, Mr. Brzezinski, and the General Scowcroft. We revealed a remarkable development past in our relations and looked ahead to the future, which will be even brighter. We all believe that thanks to the efforts of the generations of leaders of the two countries, our relationship has become the most vibrant and promising bilateral relationship that carries the most strategic influence in the world. A relationship based on mutual respect and the mutual benefit between us will not only bring benefits to the people of the two countries, but will also contribute greatly to the world peace, stability, and the prosperity. The China-U.S. relationship has entered a new stage of building cooperative partnership. The people-to-people relationship carries the sincere commitments of the two presidents, the expectations of the two peoples, and important mission of developing China-U.S. relations and promoting both peace and development.

Madam Secretary, ladies, and gentlemen, spring is the season for sowing hope. It is also a season of great hopes. Today, we have revealed the past and looked ahead to the future, and we feel they have responsibilities upon us, yet we are full of confidence. I firmly believe that we stay (inaudible) and commitment by the two sides, the seedlings of China-U.S. people-to-people exchange will grow stronger, and the tree of China-U.S. friendship will take its roots in our peoples and will develop further and bear rich fruits. Let us join hands to open a brighter future for people-to-people exchange and relationship between China and the United States. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, State Councilor Liu, for those inspiring words, and I, indeed, feel as though we are in a beautiful spring that is holding so much promise and hope for the peoples of our two countries, and I am very touched by this picture of your father and of Major (inaudible), and I will put this with great honor in my office, and I will look at it and be reminded of the friendship between our two people that spans many decades. We are very grateful that we now have this opportunity to enhance mutual understanding between the American and Chinese people by increasing direct ties between our people not in a time of war, but in a time of peace and hope. Last year’s inaugural meeting of the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange was a very good start. And today, we have heard excellent reports from Minister Hao and Secretary McHale.

We also have with us today a wonderful group of Americans and Chinese from the areas of culture, education, science and technology, sports, and women’s issues. I don’t know whether you and I will play ping-pong in public. (Laughter.) That may be a bridge too far. (Laughter.) But I do know that we will continue to support this important process. It is already achieving results. First, I am delighted by today’s announcement that we will broaden one of our most successful exchange programs – the U.S.-China Fulbright Program. The Fulbright Program has already brought more than 3,000 American and Chinese graduate students and scholars to study, teach, and research in one another’s countries. And we will now enhance these exchanges to include master’s degree students and community college faculties.

More Americans are now studying in China than in any other foreign country. Our goal is to send 100,000 students to China over the next four years. And I am pleased to announce that the American private sector is showing increased support for the 100,000 Strong Initiative with new commitments from Goldman Sachs, Amway Corporation, and laureate international universities. And thank you so much, State Councilor, for your announcement of an additional 10,000 scholarships for Americans who wish to study in China. This is in addition to the 10,000 bridge scholarships that the Chinese Government offered last year, and we are very touched by this strong signal of support.

We also celebrate last month’s announcement that New York University will open a campus in Shanghai in 2013. And we have with us today the president of NYU, President John Sexton, if you would stand. (Applause.) It is President Sexton’s vision to expand his university internationally while maintaining its reputation for excellence and academic freedom, and we’re very excited about this endeavor which means so much to both of us.

I’m also pleased that we have a very robust set of exchanges – universities and dance companies, environmentalists and technology experts, ping pong players, video game developers – all of these and many more have a role to play in helping to create more understanding between our two countries. As you said, State Councilor, both President Obama and President Hu believe deeply that helping people expand their personal, commercial, professional, philanthropic exchanges really does pay enormous benefits.

And governments need to provide an open environment that can create those kinds of candid exchanges as we just saw in the video from our respective young people. We want to see robust, open exchanges, and to lay a firm foundation for cultural and educational understanding. We think that creating the environment in which people pursue their own dreams, hopes, and aspirations will lead to not only greater understanding, but increasing cooperation and partnership between our two countries.

Now we’ve seen the results of these U.S.-Chinese people-to-people exchanges in many areas. We very much appreciate the support that our Friendship Volunteers have received from the Ministry of Education and the China Education Association for International Exchanges. We will, as Under Secretary McHale said, look forward to increasing our exchanges between our young researchers and scientists. And of course, because we both believe that progress on so many global issues is linked to progress on empowering girls and women, I’m particularly pleased that the state councilor and I have agreed to launch the new U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue. We’re calling it Women-LEAD. (Applause.) I want to thank both Ambassador Melanne Verveer and the All-China Women’s Federation’s Vice President Meng Xiaosi for this initiative and their willingness to lead our efforts. We think it will help bring talented women together to tackle common problems and raise the visibility and opportunities of both women and girls.

This relationship is one that both of our presidents have made a very important part of each of our nation’s foreign policy in the 21st century. It is not only, however, our two governments that will shape the relationship. Leaders are on the stage for a period of time, but the people endure. And the people’s relationships is what will give China-U.S. relationships a very strong foundation going into the future.

We will not always agree. There is no doubt of that. I know of no two people – I don’t even know within a family – that everyone agrees. But we believe strongly that working for greater understanding, finding new ways not only of communicating, but of cooperating, is in the best interest of our nations and our people. We think the more our people learn to cooperate and collaborate, the more that China and the United States will be able to find solutions to many global challenges. We both face climate change issues, weather changes, food security, environmental problems, educational issues, healthcare challenges, and we want to work to make sure we know the best solutions that can be applied everywhere. So I thank you so much, State Councilor. You understood this from the very beginning, you have championed it within your government. I am pleased that both of us are able to continue this work together and I am excited by what lies ahead.

The future is, as you said, in these young people, and I’m very optimistic about that future. I loved going to the Shanghai Expo, which was such a great accomplishment of China, and I loved seeing young Americans speaking Chinese to many of the Chinese visitors. I was very proud of our young Americans and I was delighted by the response that they were provoking with many Chinese people I think coming because it was such a novelty to have someone speaking to them in their own language, and it was also a lot of fun because a lot of the Chinese visitors were helping to correct and teach – (laughter) – the Chinese language students. But it was so wonderful to see that person-to-person interaction.

Sometimes governments get all tied up in problems, and people say, “I could solve that tomorrow.” I think by letting people have more of an opportunity to listen and learn with each other, we in government will learn as well. So this not only a very exciting adventure, I think it holds tremendous promise for the relationship that we value so greatly. We were delighted by President Hu’s successful visit in January. We are building on that, and we continue to look for even more ways to broaden and deepen our relationship, and people to people is the key. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/572