The ICAS Lectures

No. 2000-0501-ZXL

Hub for Humanity and Peace in the New Century

Zhaoxing Li

ICAS Spring Symposium
Humanity, Economy, Science and Technology
University of Pennsylvania
May 1, 2000

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422

Tel : (610) 277-9989; (610) 277-0149
Fax: (610) 277-3992

Biographic Sketch: Zhaoxing Li

[Editor's note: We gratefully acknowledge Sara Roth, ICAS Intern, for having produced this transcript. sjk]

Hub for Humanity and Peace in the New Century

His Excellency Zhaoxing Li,
Ambassador of the Peopleís Republic of China to the United States

Synja P Kim:

Good afternoon. It is my distinct pleasure to welcome and introduce to you his Excellency, Zhaoxing Li, the Ambassador of the Peopleís Republic of China to the United States. As a distinguished diplomat and an expert at multicultural affairs, Ambassador Li has served in numerous positions, from foreign ministry to the United Nations representing China over the last three decades. During this period, Ambassador Li diligently worked towards building a solid foundation of international relations and promoting peace and stability in the region as well as around the world. He was particularly instrumental over the late 1990s for advancing China-US relations as vice-foreign administer during the period of various stages in the evolution of the relationship between China and the United States and the United Nations. Weíre quite sure that the Ambassador will continue to make significant contributions because the relationships at this very important time of the world history. For his pastime activities as a scholar, writer, and literature enthusiast and as a Shakespeare adorer he speaks at universities and he writes numerous articles on human affairs. On behalf of ICAS Iím very thankful for his participation in this symposium.

Now itís my great pleasure to have Professor Lawrence Klein to share the podium with us. As you know, Professor Klein is a Nobel Laureate, heís a Benjamin Franklin Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, and also heís an ICAS Distinguished Fellow. Professor Klein, would you like to join us in introducing Ambassador Li, please?

Professor Klein:

Well, these are very interesting times in Chinese-American relations. We expect to see much more activity in the next few days, such things as percolations with China on a more permanent basis, or China joining in the World Trade Organization, and I was very glad to sign a letter with the comments last week, week before, on promoting Chinaís entry into the World Trade Organization. And I believe that Ambassador Li will bring us up to date on those issues. But in general I want to say that we welcome Ambassador Li as a scholar, a scholar of language, literature, a scholar with a degree from Beijing University, and a leader of Chinese-American discussions in the United Nations and in his very segment embassy post in Africa and other parts of the world. So itís a great pleasure to have a speech today on the subject of China as a Hub for humanity and peace in the new century. Ambassador Li.

Ambassador Li:

Thank you very much Professor Klein. Thank you Madam President of the Institute, thank you Vice-President Kim. Thank you to members, ladies and gentlemen. It indeed is a pleasure and an honor to be given grant of such an astute audience. For as a matter of fact, this Institute is not just another one, and this UPenn, where we are, is not just another university in this country and in the world. And in accord to this, I am in front of some of the best friends of this great country. So yes indeed, Iím honored to share with all of you some of my thoughts of Chinaís future role and on the role of US-China partnership in the days and the new century to come.

Traveling from coast to coast in this great country, one question I have often come across is, "how would you, Ambassador, generalize the foreign policy of China?" So my answer is, "It used to be youíd be wrong to have a longer version than I can generalize Chinaís boring policy with tourists. If you want to have a shorter one, one moment. The longer version is that Chinaís foreign policy is one of peace and independence. That is, China loves peace, works for peace and all this rests on the condition of independence, which we also cherish a lot. So if you want the shorter version, a briefer version that is a policy of peace. Traditionally China as a nation and Chinese people love peace. To cite one example, one of Chinaís earlier philosophers and great teachers, Confucius, who lived in the period of 551 BC- 479 BC. [coughing]... a very important and sagely principle, that is, ... and a hammer nothing is more important and more cherishable than this. And with peace that is ideal for life, for society, and for the whole world, let children be well reasoned. Let the young people be given an opportunity to serve society and be distinguished. And let the old, the ancient, be respected and taken good care of. So this has become a tradition of Chinese nation and of Chinaís long civilization. Thousands of years in the Ming Dynasty when China became almost the worldís biggest economic power, when China would send big fleet to go as far as the mountain-peak springs, to go on to as far countries as [inaudible], Somalia, Kenya, and so forth, the Chinese fleet went there to present people there China was positive, it was not false, and to be friends. And very much unlike European colonists, they brought back from those parts things, beautiful things, such as eardrops as gifts, emeralds as gifts, from both the Presidents of Kenya and Somalia, spices and animals. And all of these happened about half a century before colonialists discovered the Indian Islands, the West Indian Islands in the year 1492. And this tradition continued on and on. However until a 150 years ago did China became aware of the west and China was subjected to foreign intervention, aggressions and even occupation. And because, for example, of the opium war imposed on us by Britain we lost our Hong Kong and because of illegal occupation of Macau by the Portuguese, we lost that island too. However, when China became strong enough to take its islands back, we took them by means of peace. By negotiations, respectively, with Britain and Portugal we got back Hong Kong in 1997 and got back Macau last year. This again demonstrates our love of peace and our policy of peace.

And now China has made the economic construction at the very center, the very focal point of all the things we do. Economic construction is the first thing and the last thing too. We are now gaining victory because we are confident. China is a big country with the biggest population in the world; however China is still a comparatively poor country, underdeveloped country, so the most important thing for us to do is to improve our peoples' life. To raise our peoplesí human rights standards and record. To do that we need peace. So one thing that this decision and upon mental pace to work to coexist in peace with friendship with all the countries in the world. All the basis of principles, like mutual respect for each otherís sovereignty, and mutual non-interference into otherís internal matters, equality, and mutual respect.

At this point now, we are making friends everywhere. We have now established diplomatic relations with over 160 countries and have joined hundreds of international organizations. I believe in the new century China will continue to be a peace factor in the world. China will continue to work hard with other countries to maintain world peace and international stability so that the whole world can be in a better position to be more prosperous. And in regards to our history with America, this is also a starting point. That is we want to work with America, to help lead the world, a safer world and a more prosperous world. Our two countries are most of importance in the world. Both being permanent members of the security counsel of the United Nations and both being nuclear weapon holders, so itís important for the two countries to work together and not be at crossroads. This is why when we believe when President Ding Xiao Ping first visited America by the president of China and together with Bill Clinton reached consensus that these two counties will work to build a policy of constructive partnership that has reflected the common interest of all peoples and reflected the common desire maybe also of all people of the rest of the world. Our two countries naturally have a lot of differences because of historical backgrounds, religions, ways of life, and economic development levels so far. However, we have a quite lot more common grounds than differences, and this is particularly so after the ending of the Cold War.

Now both China and America want to see the world stable. Both of our two countries want to see those misfits be resolved peacefully. And most of all our two countries want to develop our economies even at a faster speed. So our two countries have started large scale economic trade cooperation. At the moment on the mainland of China, there are about 30,000 American funded interests, most of which are doing well, making very nice returns to help the American economy so good and for so long, as well as to keep the Americaís inflation rates so low and the price of consumer goods so still. This relationship is good for China too. For example, the joint economic efforts have helped China to create about one million job opportunities for the Chinese. A proposition that is also true for Americans. According to World Bank observers China and US joint economic efforts have helped America to create more than 400,000 high salaried job opportunities. Last year Americaís exports to China had witnessed a 16% increase while Chinaís export to America increased by 11.5% last year. But of course our two countries have differences in statistics because we have different ways of calculations and so forth. Take for example, all goods going through Hong Kong to the mainland of China are counted as Americaís exports to Hong Kong, a special region of China. And all exports from China to America through Hong Kong are counted as Chinaís exports to America. And we have our own method of exporting goods to America [and they are] done through Hong Kong, where thereís always a very maniple, a big magnum of usually about 30% or so. Anyway, trade is really important to the two sides.

Last November, the two countries concluded a thirty year marathon discussion and negotiations at which the current agreement of China with one or two exceptions. This is a wonderful result. Good for China and good for America. In the strict sense, maybe America is a bigger beneficiary of the agreement. The agreement, however, hinges on whether the American Congress will adopt a clean field for China. We feel if the American counsel people take the American interests to heart, they will do it. They will adopt and approve this PNCR leadership between the two countries. Because you see, what is PNCR? PNCR is simply a reflection, an implementation, of the daily basic rules. And PNCR is by no means a free lunch or open gate to any foreign country. Itís a mutually beneficial arrangement, itís a normal arrangement. And this is important, not only with China. And itís important here for the WTO, because without Chinaís entrance into the WTO, WTO cannot boast of being a complete world treaty organization. This is also good for China, the Taiwan province, because only after China joins or enters WTO as a sovereign state can Taiwan apart from China can join as WTO a separate custom territories of China. So all this I say is crystal clear.

And your position was used to be adoptive under opening reform policy over 20 years ago. China had sent more than 150,000 young men and civilians to study at Americans colleges and universities. Now about 31% of them have retuned home to serve China with modern efficient drive, and the rest are still here in America to study or to research, serving the American economy as we are in cooperation between the two countries. Touching upon this I want to express my gratitude to the University of Pennsylvania for your efforts and contribution in teaching Chinaís young people, thus helping Chinaís modern efficient drive and also contributing to the US-China partnership.

Giving armed forces our two countries are doing a lot together. Last month Chinaís commander for the South China Sea Fleet for downtown Washington and they had good consultations with Americaís counterparts agreeing to further expand with exchanges and the cooperation our two armed forces. In spheres of law enforcement too, our two countries are doing many things together in the benefits of our two countries. Take for example, last year some hideous persons violated Chinese laws and stolen and shipped altogether twenty-seven pieces of Chinaís valuable historical relics. And these historical relics were found and seized by police in Tampa, Florida. And in accordance with our agreements with our two countries and in accordance with the United Nations rules as well as the rules of UNESCO the American authorities shipped back all of these relics to China. These are some of the examples to illustrate what weíre doing and why we are cooperating and helping each other.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are now also confronted with a lot of challenges, a lot of difficulties, but on the whole, I am confident that the relationship between our countries, are reflecting the constitutions and interests of our two peoples naturally it will last long. It will overcome all the possible difficulties that might crop up on the way and the leadership will be going ahead from strength to strength. As always, accompanied by Mr. King, my new friend, I saw a statute of Ben Franklin on your beautiful campus and that reminded me of one of the thing many years ago Ben Franklin once said, "in this world, nothing can be certain but death and taxes." Now in front of you, I can venture to add one more thing to what Ben Franklin told us. In the days to come, and the new century to come, China and America are bound to be friends and partners. This is the one more thing that is certain with pleasant and good work of all of us. I thank you very much.

Moderator (Sang Joo Kim):

Now Ambassador has graciously agreed to entertain a few quick questions, so please feel free to raise a question and make sure to identify who you are, raise you hand please. Who shall take the 1st shot?

Question by a student:

Your Excellency, you mentioned the issue of human rights and that peace is the most cherishable and I think all of us here in this room would agree. However, I find it ironic that you put this at the beginning of your speech and seemed to give it precedence mentioning children as well as the old and the need to respect and care for these, especially when the suggestion is foreign imperialism threatens these basic goods. When in the last year, according to President Vice Premier Li Longxing, 35,000 who practiced Falun Gung were arrested in a three month period for simply going to appeal for their right to freedom of conscience, assembly, and speech. At the same time, 5000 people have been sentenced to labor camps for their participation without trial, without representation by lawyers. Another 500 people have been sentenced up to eighteen years in prison without legal representation or lawyers only allowed plea bargain. Along the way, fifteen people, according to human rights reports, have died in custody in China along with people being sentenced to mental hospitals. Even the Wall Street Journal has taken up this issue...


Could you please come to your question?

A student:

So my question is, if thereís this commitment to human rights and peace, when is China going to re-evaluate its position [on] Falun Gung of the world to recognize as harmless which the world has seen as benevolent including the US Congress weíve talked about cooperation now, the US government, and even Philadelphia has issued a proclamation honoring Falun Gung, so I wanted to know why China is not willing to enter a dialogue which is aimed at peace and (inaudible) which US government has requested China to do, and a number of international organizations. Whatís the hesitation?


Thank you. The podium is yours, Ambassador.

Ambassador Li:

Thank you very much young student, and you know, it is a really important question. Or rather, you have said a powerful statement of yours. Sounded more like sentiment than a question, however Iím too happy to discuss with you and compare notes with you. You also used a very touching and vivid word, that is ironic. I think itís worth what Iím going to say libel to your own statement. China does attach importance to human rights. And as a matter of fact, this is all what the (inaudible) people have been doing all these years. China was the first country in the world which raised the concept of human rights. What is human rights? Different countries, different states have different ideas. As early as 2600 years ago, first well known philosopher, Confucius, said, "for human rights, food is the most important thing. That if there is any god at all, food should be the first thought." I can assure you one thing, that is, though our countries are rich one, rich in resources, and rich in talents, we have barely met to resolve this issue for many, many centuries. However, now, China has already produced more than enough to feed all our own population, which is about five times that of America. Or in specific terms, at the moment 1.26 billion, and every day about 50,000 babies are born to China. Itís up to the government and the people to produce enough to feed our babies and to build enough classrooms, schools to train enough teachers to reassure that our children, our grandchildren have a good and better and better education. These are human rights.

We also pay attention to politics, to peopleís political and democratic rights. One of the disciples of the grandson of Confucius, Conuncius, said "another important factor of human rights that we should remember is that the people are more important than the kings or emperors". I believe this is the first or one of the first concepts explained in the (inaudible) by our early philosophers about democracy. And this is also what we are cherishing now. In China we believe the people are masters of the country. And we have our own congressional democracy system. That is, system of a national chain of congress and local chains of congresses.

...I donít know where you get those figures of data, information.

A student:

Amnesty International, US State Department.

Ambassador Li:

Yeah, I think purely American sources. Am I right?

A student:

Amnesty International is an international organization.

Ambassador Li:

I know, you cite well, you are cosmopolitan, but if you happen to read anything from the authentic Chinese authorities, I think, youíll would be. Itíd be somewhat ironic. Now I return the words to you. You said that some people got killed or got suppressed because practiced (inaudible). I can assure you none of your information holds any water. On the contrary, Falun Gung is not a religion, it is nothing but a cult. I believe you are an American, you know about American cults. I believe, if you want to be fair, there should be no practices of double standards. How come you are not happy with your own cults? Youíre not happy with your own people suffering from cults? Then you are now charging the Chinese government of cult of Falun Gung. The leader of (inaudible) very unfortunately, heís also a mystery. (laughter) ... heís outlawed. He himself said that Falun Gung is no religion, simply because, according to him, is many, many times more animated in the preacher and than the inaudible) and he himself is the most animated and more vivid (inaudible) than Jesus Christ, and than Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

Do you think as educated that you are capable of supporting of such a leader who claims to be better than Jesus Christ? I donít think so. And I hope the omniscient source you have quoted from, let me assure you, tell you one thing, if you believe all these things youíve read from some of your papers or from some of your networks, then youíre bound to be deceived. There are other examples: your weapon (inaudible) according to that report, China has stolen the American technique for nuclear technology. And according to that report, without Americaís help, China would not have the weaponry systems it has now, but that is all ridiculous. That is ironic, indeed, more than twenty years (inaudible) China already had its first atomic bomb successfully tested on the 16th of October 1946. Maybe before you were born. But ... report said that China had stolen American technology. There could be nothing more wrong or more ridiculous, or more ironical than this. And again, your paper, the paper you read said that China had spent money to support American presidential candidate so that he won. This ...we donít have the money, we donít have the policy. If we do have the money, we have poor children to support. How could China send money to America to support American candidate? (inaudible) and this is what youíre reading and after 3 years now, nothing has been found to support these "facts", to support these rumors. (inaudible) I think a good education also means one has to learn to be fair, not to wrong an innocent country, an innocent people. Your question has really touched upon something sensitive in me, so I spend such a long time to discuss the issue with you. I hope you donít mind. About dialogues in the field of human rights, China deplores violence, but the American delegation didnít want to. (inaudible) in Geneva, the American delegation imposed confrontation on China. They raised the anti-China ... however, the facts ... the truth is on the side of China ... for the 9th time ... when you say that ... Nobody, no country, no matter how powerful it is ...


Iím a Co-Chair of international law committee of Philadelphia bar association. I recognize that China has a serious population problem, and I had an occasion to visit and itís a very beautiful country. The PRC has adopted a 1 child per family policy. There is much criticism of the methods of implementation of this policy. Has this policy in reality been successful? And in lieu of this criticism of the PRCís method of implementing population control, what modification to this policy do you foresee?

Ambassador Li:

Thank you madam, this is a really, another important question. Public planning is one of the fundamental policies we practice. However, to describe Chinaís population policy as a 1- carat policy is an oversimplification. For the real solution, the real practice is much more complicated. If youíve traveled, youíd see we do have to keep the population down. If you love China, and you cherish the interests of people, youíd probably understand part of the underlying policy. And now, the general idea that in the cities, the urban areas, we encourage each couple to have a one-child family, however in the rural areas, it depends. People can have more than one. And in remote areas, such as in Tibet, people can have almost as many as theyíd like. Generally speaking, this policy reflects the interests of the nation and people support it. And we really donít know why some politicians in this country donít. I believe if they go to China and see for themselves, they would have a different idea.


Now, we will proceed to a private Luncheon in honor of Ambassador Li. Thank you.

This page last updated 7/12/2003 jdb

ICAS Fellow
Spring 2000