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Learn the Lessons of History, Build a New Type of International Relations
Address to the UWA Historical Society by Acting Chinese Consu-General Jin Qian
2018/08/15

Respected President Dr.Fran Pesich,

Distinguished Guests,

Dear Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening. It is my pleasure to attend UWA Historical Society Members & Friends Meeting and join your discussion tonight. At the outset, I would like to thank Dr. Fran Pesich for your kind invitation. And I am particularly grateful to UWA Historical Society for all the efforts made over the years to actively promote people-to-people exchange and deepen mutual understanding between the peoples of the provinces and cities in China and Western Australia. Thank you very much.

International educational exchange enjoys a long history in China, and it has been more than 1,400 years since China received her first group of foreign students---japanese aristocratic kuge and Buddhist priests in the year 607, Sui dynasty, whose mission was to learn Chinese culture, including advances in the sciences and technology. Over the years, China has never stopped education exchange with the outside world, and the number of international students studying in China continues to climb, reaching near 450,000 last year, according to new statistics from the Ministry of Education of China, which helps to set it on track for China to meet her target of hosting half a million international students by 2020.

Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, there were already a lot of Chinese going abroad for further studies. After the establishment of new China, the central government decided to send students and scholars to the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries to study the advanced S&T and management skills. Since the reform and opening up in 1978, the international educational exchange has seen rapid developments and now it serves as a window for China's reform and opening up as well as for the cultural exchanges between China and other countries.

China's international education strategy has a lot in common with Australia National Strategy for International Education as well as those of quite a few other countries released in recent years. Chinese strategy highlights investment and education quality and plans to upgrade the education system by mobilizing resources and motivating educational institutions to build strong ties with their foreign counterparts. It also includes a focus on improving and enhancing transnational education delivered into China.

China and Australia have been working closely together taking a leading role in a number of areas around qualifications recognition and harmonisation. China and Australia are the only two countries to have ratified the Asia-Pacific Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (the Tokyo Convention), and in 2014 our two countries signed an updated Arrangement on Higher Education Qualifications Recognition.

In May this year, more than 125,000 Chinese students were enrolled at Australian universities. Each single of them arrival here is the start of a friendship that grows, adapts, renews, and ultimately benefits our two countries. Just as the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull mentioned last week at the University of NSW, "It is so much more than foreign students coming to study in Australia and leaving with a degree. It was of vital importance to our comprehensive, strategic partnership with China". China will continue to work closely with Australia to strengthern cooperation in transnational education and promote the sound and steady growth of China-Australia relations which serves our common interests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Recently, the trade friction between the U.S. and China has attracted worldwide attention after the U.S. administration targeted a wider range of imports from China subjected to the additional tariffs. And, China-Australia relations have also caused increasing concerns of the public. So, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my views on these issues from a historical perspective. Because the past predicts the future. History tells us where we should go. All of you present here today are historians or history lovers. I think you may pay more attention to look to the future from a historical perspective.

The China-US relationship is a strategic one. To understand this relationship, we need to know the path we have traveled, but more importantly, steer the direction we are heading to. We need to discuss the issues, but more importantly, understand the whole picture. If history serves as a reminder, the China-US relationship is productive as well as mutually beneficial rather than a zero-sum game.

Over the past 40 years, since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979, China and the U.S. have achieved remarkable progress in many areas. In 1979, the annual bilateral trade volume between us was only $2.45 billion, and surged to $636 billion in 2017. Two-way investment, which was insignificant in the early days, exceeded $430 billion.

In 1979, only a few thousand people visited each other. In 2017, the number was close to five million. Chinese visitors to the U.S. reached 2.97 million, growing at a fast pace. The two countries have established more than 47 pair of sister states, 215 pair of sister cities. Now, every 17 minutes, there is a flight taking off or landing between the two countries, over 14,000 Chinese and Americans fly over the Pacific every day. Last year, more than 350,000 Chinese students studied in the U.S. while 25,000 Americans studied in China. And it is hard to estimate how many more people are interacting through the Internet and mobile phones.

Furthermore, China and America maintain close and effective communication and coordination on major regional and international issues, including the Korean Peninsula, Iranian nuclear, Afghanistan, counter terrorism, energy security, public health and climate change. Through close coordination in fighting various challenges, China and the U.S. are tremendously contributing to regional and global peace, stability and prosperity. Now, the interests of our two countries are deeply entwined.

China has no intention and capability to change or displace the United States. The world's second largest economy as it is, China remains a developing country and much awaits to be done in modernization. China will continue to give priority to development, pursue innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. Bettering the lives of the people is not only a goal for every one of China's initiatives, but also the fundamental purpose of development. It can be summarized in the president Xi Jinping's statement, "The people yearn for a better life, and our goal is to help them achieve it."

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. Over the last four decades, the Chinese people have embraced the world with open arms and actively contributed our share to the world. With united and determined efforts, the Chinese people have added a glorious chapter to the development epic of the country and the nation. China's reform and opening-up meets its people's aspiration for development, innovation and a better life. It also meets the global trend towards development, cooperation and peace. China's door of opening-up will not be closed and will only open even wider. China will never develop itself at the expense of others.

As the largest developing country and developed country, China and the U.S. working together will benefit not just our own countries, but also the whole world. If there is any competition between us, which is natural, it has to be healthy and positive. We may have competition, but we don't have to be rivals. Instead, we should strive to be partners.

The world's history has had no shortage of bitter lessons about major countries competing for hegemony, which entailed suffering for themselves and the world beyond. The most painful we can remember are the two world wars, both catastrophic for the human race. Now, we are in the 21st century, we could be wiser than our predecessors. We may draw lessons from the sad past and act along the trend of history. We may seek "a new answer" to "the ancient question" of how major countries can live with each other. We can break with the old cycle of inevitable conflict and confrontation between major countries, the so called "Thucydides trap", and endeavor to bring lasting peace and prosperity to our global village.

Facts have proven that cooperation is the main thrust of China-US relations. Although bilateral economic and trade cooperation has experienced wind and rain, it has always been moving forward to achieve mutual benefits and win-win results. The ever more extensive cooperation and close exchanges at different levels have tied the two countries' interests closely together. There is far more that they share than they disagree. Cooperation leads to win-win outcomes while confrontation can only result in a lose-lose situation. This is a plain truth that anyone with a strategic vision and sober mind will recognize.

As we all know, there will be no winners in trade wars. The United States will eventually realize that unilateralism and protectionism will lead to its isolation from the world. We hope that the United States will return to the negotiating table as soon as possible and resolve the economic and trade differences between China and US through mutual understanding and mutual accommodation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China has always viewed Australia as an important partner. During the Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Australia in 2014, the two countries have decided to elevate our bilateral relations into a comprehensive strategic partnership and announced the substantial conclusion of the FTA negotiations. These two important outcomes have further boosted China-Australia relations.

Since 2009, China has been Australia's largest trading partner, No. 1 export destination and import source. The largest number of foreign tourists also come from China. According to Mr. Philip Lowe, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, addressed to the Australia-China relations institute at Sydney on the 23 May 2018, Australia's service exports to China have grown at an average annual rate of 15 per cent. As a result, Australia's service exports to China are now greater than those to the United States and the United Kingdom combined.

In 2009, just four passenger airlines flew between China and Australia. Last year, there are 15 airlines and more than 15,000 direct flights between our two countries, and there were 1.4 million visitors from China to Australia, up from around 400,000 a decade ago. On average, Chinese visitors tend to stay longer in Australia and spend more money than other visitors. As a result, they now account for around 25 per cent of total visitor expenditure in Australia, a considerably larger share than any other country. A two-way investment relationship is also developing.

China and Australia differ in history, culture, social system and stage of development, so it is natural for us to have disagreements on some issues. What is important is that we should keep to the right direction of bilateral relations, talk to each other candidly, seek common ground despite our differences and meet each other half way. We should respect each other's core interests and major concerns and properly handle the differences. As long as we have our long-term and larger interests in mind, increase positive factors and remove obstacles, we will certainly forge a closer and dynamic comprehensive strategic partnership between us.

The deepening of economic relationship between our two countries benefited Australia. It has created new opportunities for Australia and significantly boosted your national income. It was also one of the factors that helped Australia economy through the global financial crisis. Of course, the deepening relationship has also benefited China in many ways. This means that both countries have a strong interest in managing this important relationship well. It is in our mutual interests to do this.

Together, we can also be a strong voice for the importance of an open international trading system and for effective regional cooperation. We will, of course, have differences from time to time, but we will surely be better placed to deal with these if we understand one another well. Building strong connections across business, finance, politics, academic and the community more generally is important to deepening this understanding.

On August 7, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered a speech at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in which he talked about Australia-China relations. He said that Australia welcomes the remarkable success made by China's reform and opening-up efforts, praises the contributions made by the Chinese and the Australians of Chinese descent to the Australian society, and looks forward to working with China on the Belt and Road Initiative projects and strengthening Australian-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. His remarks injects positive energy into the efforts to enhance mutual trust and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment between our two countries.

China and Australia are all important countries in the Asia Pacific region. A sound and steady development of bilateral relations serves the fundamental interests of people in both sides as well as regional and world peace, stability and prosperity. We hope that Australia could continue to work with us to take concrete actions to carry forward bilateral relations along the right track.

As an old saying in China goes, only heart-to-heart exchanges can last long. Though China and West Countries, like the U.S. and Australia, differ in political systems, we can bridge any gap and usher in a more promising future for our friendly relationships as long as we open up our hearts to and respect each other.

History has proven that China's success lies in its commitments to peaceful development. We will stick to peaceful development and pursue the independent foreign policy of peace. In conclusion, I am fully confident in the bright future of our bilateral relations. Let us work together for a even better China-Australia relationship.

Thank you all!

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