Opinion | New Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang: What I learned in America

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Qin Gang, who is the ambassador of China to America, was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China on December 30.

“The end,” wrote the poet TS Eliot, “is where we begin.” As I leave the United States this week to begin a new journey, memorable scenes from my time in this country flash back into my mind.

I visited 22 states and discovered a different country than the one I knew in Washington, DC, and in the spring I visited Kimberly Farm in Iowa, where President Xi Jinping visited in 2012. Local products. In the fall, I visited a corn and soybean farm in Missouri and was deeply moved by the sincerity and hospitality of my hosts.

I saw with my own eyes how Sino-American agricultural cooperation has benefited both countries and contributed to both the global food supply and the fight against climate change. In Minneapolis, I taught a class for children at a Chinese language immersion school, and one of the students there won a Chinese bridge language competition. I visited Chinese-owned factories in Ohio and California, as American workers explained that Chinese investments helped put food on their tables. At the ports of Boston and Long Beach, I saw huge stacks of containers shipped to and from China, a testament to the high level of economic interdependence between our two countries — and a reminder that decoupling serves no one’s interest.

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At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, I threw out the first pitch at a Cardinals game to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the Nanjing-St. Louis sister-city ties, the oldest such pairing of our two countries. I celebrated with American friends the 50th anniversary of the arrival of giant pandas in the United States.

These are, for me, the most important memories of this country, and I hold them in my heart. My posting in the United States gives me unfailing strength as a diplomat. Going forward, the development of China-US relations will remain a key mission of mine in my new position.

I am ambassador to the United States at a complex and difficult time for China-US relations. Almost all dialogue and exchange mechanisms are suspended. Chinese enterprises are unfairly sanctioned. Coupled with the pandemic, people-to-people exchanges have been severely affected. China is often described as America’s “most serious rival”.

As ambassador, I have taken it as my mission to promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields and work for the stability, improvement and development of China-US relations. Improving relationships works on both sides. I have had honest dialogue and built good working relationships with US government officials to properly handle thorny issues such as the Taiwan question and advance cooperation in key areas.

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I met with more than 80 members of Congress, including some well-known China hawks, to explain China’s positions and concerns. I explored with think tanks how to rebuild a stable, predictable and structured framework for bilateral relations. I am encouraged by the business community’s confidence in the Chinese market and its strong desire for continued cooperation. I visited many American universities and helped US students who were prevented from going to China due to the epidemic return to their Chinese campuses. I have done many interviews with the American media. Although we didn’t always see eye to eye, I appreciated his willingness to listen to the Chinese perspective.

I strongly convince the United States that the door to Sino-US relations remains open and will not be closed. I am more convinced that Americans are open-minded, friendly and hard-working like Chinese people. The future of both our peoples — indeed, the future of the entire planet — depends on a healthy and stable China-US relationship.

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My time here reminds me that Sino-US relations should not be a zero-sum game in which one side defeats the other or one nation prospers at the expense of the other. The world is wide enough for both China and the United States to develop and prosper. The successes of our two countries are opportunities to be shared, not challenges to be won. We must not allow prejudice or misunderstanding to provoke friction or conflict between two great peoples. We must follow the strategic guidance of our President and find the right path for the well-being of the world.

It’s not going to be a “walk in the park,” as the Americans sometimes say. It requires constant effort from everyone. However, history proves that what we have started is essential and useful.

I will take all these memories with me when I go back. Poet Eliot also wrote, “To end is to make a beginning.” I believe that the relations between our countries will follow that path.


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