(Applause.) Thank you very much. And I’m so late you probably thought you weregoing to hear from the 48th Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) I apologize. I always, when I’mlate at home, always blame it on the President. But I can’t do that today, and I apologize for keeping you waiting.
I remember 220 years ago, when Iwas in college, you only had to wait 10 minutes for a professor, 20 minutes fora full professor. The only fullprofessor in the Biden family is my wife — you didn’t have to wait thislong. But thank you so much for givingme the opportunity to speak with you all.
Let me begin by saying one thingabout competition. I’ve told this toVice President Xi and then President Xi, in all the time I had to spend withhim, is that one of the things that has happened in the last 20 years, as theworld has become more competitive, it’s awakened the competitive spirit in theUnited States. Competition is stampedinto our DNA. And if there’s anythingremotely approaching a level playing field, we’ll do just fine — just fine.
And so I want to thank theAmerican Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Business Council for inviting me heretoday. You are living the U.S.-Chinarelationship every single day, and you know the opportunities, but you alsoknow the obstacles. And it’s great to beback together one last time here in Beijing with our Ambassador, GaryLocke. I say one last time because he isgoing to be heading back to his home state of Washington after a verydistinguished career, which I don’t think is anywhere near ended, as bothgovernor, member of the Cabinet, as well as the Ambassador.
And Gary and I were speaking thismorning as I was — there was a telephone call, they said I’m requiredupstairs. And one of the things I likeabout Gary — there’s no member of — no governor or member of Cabinet that Ihave enjoyed working with more, because Gary speaks English. By that, I mean not English versus Chinese; Imean plain versus complicated. (Laughter.) And so when Gary speaks, everyone understandsexactly what he means.
And as you know better than I,communication is the currency, and particularly the currency that is neededmost here in China. He’s been anAmbassador to the Chinese government, but also to the Chinese people, and hewill be missed. I remember, I was hereshortly after Gary arrived and every newspaper you’d pick, even though I don’tread Chinese, I’d see Gary’s picture — because he connected. He connected immediately with the Chinesepeople as a representative of our country and knowing — the Chinese peopleknowing he was reaching out not just to the government, but to them.
I had a chance since I’ve beenhere — it’s been a very rapid visit, and it’s been 14-hour days, but veryuseful — I had a chance to talk with Vice President Li, and I will spendseveral hours — and I spent I guess almost four and a half hours withPresident Xi. And I’m honored that hewould give me the time to go into such detail, both in a private bilat with himas well as an expanded, as well as a lovely dinner he hosted for me and a fewof my colleagues. Later, I’ll be meetingwith Premier Li.
And I want to talk to you aboutmuch of what — some of what I’ve talked to all of them about and what Ibelieve to be are next steps in the U.S.-China relationship.
We’re trying to build a new kindof relationship between major powers, one that’s different, one that is definedby constructive cooperation, healthy competition, and a shared respect for anagreed upon new set of rules of the road and international norms for the 21stcentury.
After World II, our grandfathersand fathers and mothers put in place a structure that accommodated the economicchange that took place in the world and set up a new set of rules of the roadfor the remainder of the 20th century. We’re in a different place now. You all know it better than I do. We use the phrase in colloquial conversation in all our countries thatit’s a “global economy.” But it’s trulya global economy — a global economy.
My colleagues always kid me aboutquoting Irish poets all the time. Theythink I do it because I’m Irish. I do itbecause they’re the best poets. (Laughter.) And William ButlerYeats wrote a poem called Easter Sunday 1916, about the first rising in Irelandin the 20th century. And he had a linein it that better describes, I would argue, the Pacific Basin in the year 2013than it did in his Ireland in 1916. Hesaid, “All is changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty has been born.”
We’re at a moment, a window, asthey say, of opportunity. How long itwill remain open remains to be seen — where we can potentially establish a setof rules of the road that provide for mutual benefit and growth of both ourcountries and the region, that set down sort of the tracks for progress in the21st century. I think it is thatprofound. I think that’s the place, that’sthe inflection point we are at in our relationship now — not only with Chinabut the entire region.
And so the only path to realizingthis vision for the future is through tangible, practical cooperation andmanaging our differences effectively. We’venot tried this before. We’ve not triedthis before. This is going to bedifficult. But if we get it right, theoutcome for our children and grandchildren can be profound — profoundlypositive.
But to move this relationshipforward, there is no substitute for direct and personal engagement betweenleaders. President Xi pointed out to me,because I had an opportunity when he was vice president to spend someconsiderable time with him at the request of President Hu and then — andPresident Obama. He made indirectreference to — there was a famous American politician named Tip O’Neill, who Iadmired a great deal and was sort of a mentor when I was a young 29-year-oldsenator coming into Congress. And he’sfamous for having said all politics is local. Well, I believe all politics is personal, including internationalpolitics.
Personal relationships are theonly vehicle by which you build trust. It doesn’t mean you agree, but trust to know that the man or woman onthe other side of the table is telling you precisely what they mean, even ifyou don’t want to hear it. That’s whyPresident Obama asked me to make this visit, and that’s why President Xi and Ispent so much time together yesterday discussing in great detail a whole rangeof issues we face together that are difficult for both of us to navigate in ourown political system.
These were very candidconversations. I know it shocks you tothink I would be candid. I know that’s ashocking assertion. No one has doubted that I mean exactly what I say. The problem is I sometimes tend to say allthat I mean. (Laughter.) But because our relationship is so complex,getting it right isn’t going to be easy, and it’s going to require direct straightforwardnesswith one another about our interests, our concerns and, quite frankly, ourexpectations. And that was the nature ofthe discussion yesterday.
Let me start with economics, notbecause this is a business audience, but because ultimately what matters moston both sides is our ability to deliver better for our people without it beingviewed as a zero-sum game. I have saidsince I met with Deng Xiaoping as a young senator, with very senior senators, thatChina’s economic growth is very much in the interest of the United States ofAmerica — very much in our interest. Inmy meetings with President Xi, he and I spent a good deal of our timediscussing the outcomes of China’s third plenum. China’s leaders have stated their ambition tomove China toward a system where the market plays a “decisive role.” That is a very, very big order that willrequire on the part of — and I’m confident he possesses it — the leadershipof this country and the President.
But, in fact, many of the reformsChina’s leaders are proposing actually match the priorities we have raised withChina over the years. Leveling theplaying field for private and foreign-owned companies — it’s going to be adifficult, difficult transition. Protecting intellectual property and trade secrets, which isessential. It’s not a surprise that anumber of American companies are coming home in their manufacturing. Why? Well, we have very productive workers, but also we have court systemsthat are totally transparent. Intellectual property is protected. It matters. And I think it’sbecoming apparent to our competitors around the world that it matters for theirown economic growth. Opening servicesectors to private and foreign investment and moving to market — to amarket-demand exchange rate.
These are welcome steps, but theywill be difficult steps, and there’s no need to wait till 2020. Again, the Chinese leadership in private hasbeen very candid with me about the difficulty, but the determination they haveto meet this, by any standard, very ambitious goal. Of course, what matters most at the end ofthe day will be implementation. There’san old Saxon expression — the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof of the pudding is in theeating. But I have no doubt thatPresident Xi and his leadership and his primary advisors intend on, mean to,are committed to making the third plenum a reality. But it is going to requiresubstantial commitment and follow-through.
Reform anywhere ischallenging. There are always intenseinterests. I know you all are so happyabout our views on Wall Street reform — not easy, but a minor — a minor –change compared to what the Chinese leadership has taken on. But the more China delivers on its proposedreforms the strong our bilateral trade and investment relationship will be.
And there’s a lot of work to do,and I know that many of you have concerns that need to be dealt with in theprocess. There are a number of areaswhere, in the next two years, we can and should make progress immediately. We have an opportunity to improveintellectual property protection, resolve outstanding trade disputes that areholding us back. We have an opportunityto significantly expand our cooperation on energy and climate change — wherewe have overwhelmingly mutual interest. Helping China achieve new vehicle emission standards andenergy-transparent goals is that we committed to this week.
Implementing our agreement onHFCs — we have an opportunity to protect the health and well-being of ourpeople by increasing the safety of food and drugs. And today we’ve agreed on increase of thenumber of U.S. inspectors who are operating in China.
We have an opportunity in themonths ahead to make significant progress in negotiating a bid, a bilateral investmenttreaty and much more.
The third plenum also speaks tosocial and political reform and identifies some important near-term steps thatthey want to implement — an end to China’s program of reeducation throughforced labor, easing the one-child policy, a commitment to deeper judicial andlegal reforms. Any major economic powerin the 21st century, these are all going to become essential requirements inorder to sustain growth, in my humble opinion, through the first half of the21st century.
As was pointed out yesterday bythe President, quoting back to me, I always say I never tell another man hisbusiness, or suggest to another leader what’s in the interests of his country.But the interests laid out in the third plenum seem to be very much in ourmutual interest. There are many moresteps China can take to open its politics and society as well as itseconomy. And as I’ve said before, thisis actually, from our perspective, in China’s interest, notwithstanding it’sfor them to determine their interest. Because history tells us that innovation is the currency of 21st centurysuccess. Innovation thrive where peoplebreathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspaperscan report the truth without fear of consequences.
We have many disagreements, andsome profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in thetreatment of U.S. journalists. But Ibelieve China will be stronger and more stable and more innovative if it respectsuniversal human rights.
I was asked why we always talkabout human rights. The point I try tomake wherever I go in the world when that discussion comes up is we are anation of immigrants. The vast majorityof your ancestors who came to America came because their human rights werebeing violated. It is stamped into theDNA of Americans. No President, nomatter how much he or she would like to avoid speaking to it, is able to remainsilent without suffering consequences from the American public. It is who we are. Not that we’re the citadel of human rights;we have much progress to make ourselves.
As businesses know well,prosperity critically depends upon predictability and stability. The United States and our allies haveguaranteed peace and security in this region for more than 60 years, providingthe conditions for the remarkable economic progress in the region, particularlyChina. Our relationship with China iscomplex, though. We have our differencesand they are real. But there’s nothinginevitable about a conflict with China — nothing inevitable about a conflictwith China. Wholesome competition andstrong competition is fundamentally different than conflict.
In fact, we see considerablecommon interest on the security side. Asecure and peaceful Asia Pacific enables economic growth for the entireregion. This area of the world is goingto be the economic engine of the 21st century; in halting the spread of weaponsof mass destruction, including North Korea, to stabilizing nuclear missileprogram, where we have real cooperation; in greater access to affordable andclean sources of energy. It’s easier tobegin to talk about that in the United States and in China because as — myPresident kids me — I often say reality has a way of intruding. Reality has a way of intruding. And it has intruded in both our countries interms of global warming and the effects on air quality — storms, naturaldisasters. And it is overwhelmingly inour mutual interest that we share the capacity each of us may have to deal witha more healthy environment.
We need to keep buildingpractical cooperation and manage areas where we do not see eye-to-eye. Everybody focuses on where we disagree withthe Chinese. We disagree with our alliesin other parts of the world. But China’srecent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new Air DefenseIdentification Zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehensionin the region.
And I was very direct about ourfirm position and our expectations in my conversations with President Xi. But I also put this in a broadercontext. The Asia Pacific region will bethe driver of the global economy, to repeat myself, in the 21st century, and asChina’s economy grows, its stake in regional peace and stability will continueto grow as well because it has so much more to lose. That’s why China will bear increasingresponsibility to contribute positively to peace and security.
That means taking steps to reducethe risk of accidental conflict and miscalculation, and reaffirming — reaffirmingthat we want to have better predictability and refraining from taking stepsthat will increase tension. And it meanspursuing — this means pursuing crisis management mechanisms and effectivechannels for communications with its neighbors.
These are some of the things Idiscussed with Chinese leaders. TheUnited States has a profound stake in what happens here because we need, and weare, and will remain a Pacific power diplomatically, economically, and militarily. That’s just a statement of fact.
When I first visited China backin 1979, as has been pointed out, I came to the conclusion then that I stillshare now, that China’s economic growth then I thought would be good for, andnow I am confident is good for America and the world. But it has never been inevitable. It takes work to build trust and make a habitout of cooperation, to be clear, predictable and straight with one another whenwe disagree, and to escape the traps that set other powers before us down apath of conflict.
That is the work of leaders anddiplomats, but it is also of citizens and businesspeople like all of youassembled before me. I believe that our success or failure in building aU.S.-China relationship that will define the world for our grandchildren tolive in depends not just on political leaders, but on you as well. I believe that the shared prosperity that youhelp create is part of the glue that will hold together this relationship. So I thank you. I thank you for your commitment. I thank you for your hard work. I thank you for staying in the game. And I wish you all a great deal of luckbecause your success strengthens the entire relationship.
And if we get this relationshipright, together China and America, the region and the world will be better offfor it for a long time to come, and that is not hyperbole. That is — as an old Western movie used tosay in America, that ain’t brag, ma’am. That’s just fact. It is a fact that if we get this right theprospects for the 21st century being peaceful, secure and everyone sharing in thegrowing prosperity is real.
So thank you all for what youdo. And may God bless you all and mayGod protect our troops. Thank you verymuch. Appreciate you. (Applause.)