The White House

Office of the Vice President

Remarks by Vice President Biden and Chinese Vice President Xi at the State Department Luncheon

Benjamin Franklin Room, State Department

1:30 P.M. EST

        VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, thank you all for being here.  And it’s an honor to welcome Vice President Xi, along with the entire Chinese delegation.

        I told Vice President Xi, his visit to Iowa tomorrow will assure him more delegates than I got the last time I was there.  (Laughter.)  And, Mr. Vice President, this is not part of the script, but Lindsey Graham is relieved you didn’t show up in January.  You may have won the Republican nomination.  (Laughter.)  Secretary Kissinger, you can see formality is still my forte.  (Laughter.)

        Madam Secretary, this lunch is a great start.  I hope we can match the extraordinary hospitality that the Vice President showed me in my four-day visit to China last August.

        The highlight of that trip for me, Mr. Vice President, was the time we spent in conversation together in Beijing, in Chengdu, and I look forward to continuing the conversations we started this morning over the next four days you’re here.

        The Vice President has already participated in three meetings prior to this lunch and they’ve covered a broad range of constructive discussions, and we have a very ambitious agenda in the coming days as well.

        As the Vice President and I have discussed at some length, the United States and China have much to do together, quite frankly, because our relationship is literally going to help shape the 21st century.  We’re not only the two -- the world’s two largest economies, we’re both Pacific powers.  And every day the affairs of our nations and the livelihoods of our citizens grow more connected.

        The President and I came to office determined to rebalance America’s strategic priorities toward those regions that are most critical to our nation’s future, and that meant refocusing on Asia, the most dynamic region of the global economy.  And to state the obvious, the U.S.-China relationship is a critical component of our broader Asian strategy.  Our people, both American and Chinese, are indeed people -- quite frankly, people all around the world will benefit from this mutual effort to build a more cooperative partnership between our countries.

        I first visited China in 1979, and the prosperity achieved since then, which I saw as recently as this past August is -- as all of you know who visit it -- stunning, absolutely stunning.  Few other nations in history have come so far, so fast, and it’s a great credit to the talent and industriousness of the Chinese people.

        But I respectfully suggest that this remarkable growth did not occur in a vacuum.  It was cultivated at every turn by an international system that enables rapid development grounded in rules that apply with equal measure to all nations.  Mr. Vice President, even as our cooperation grows, as we’ve discussed, the United States and China will continue to compete.  And, as Americans, we welcome competition.  It’s part of our DNA and it propels our citizens to rise to the challenge.

        But cooperation, as you and I have spoken about, can only be mutually beneficial if the game is fair.  That’s why in -- the meetings we’ve had this morning were essentially a continuation of the multiple meetings we had in your country in August, and we spent a great deal of time discussing the areas of our greatest concern, including the need to rebalance the global economy, to protect intellectual property rights and trade secrets, to address China’s undervalued exchange rate, to level the competitive playing field and to prevent the forced transfer of technology, and to continue a constructive dialogue on policies that would benefit our citizens and the world.

        While the United States and China -- as you have pointed out, Mr. Vice President -- will not always see eye to eye, it is a sign of the strength and maturity of our relationship that we can be candid about our differences as we have been.  We saw this in the recent U.N. Security Council debate about Syria, where we strongly disagreed with China and Russia’s veto of a resolution against the unconscionable violence being perpetrated by the Assad regime.

        And as was brought up by the President in his meeting with you and my meeting with you as well, we see our advocacy for human rights as a fundamental aspect of our foreign policy and we believe a key to the prosperity and stability of all societies.  We have been clear about our concern over the areas in which from our perspective conditions in China have deteriorated and about the plight of several very prominent individuals.  And we appreciate your response.

        Despite our differences, China and the United States are working more closely together on a broader range of issues than ever before.  These include pressing security challenges North Korea and Iran, maritime security, cyber security and the important work of developing cooperation between our militaries.

        As you and the President briefly discussed in the Oval Office, it also includes our efforts in Sudan and in South Asia, and on global issues such as climate change and nuclear security.  We appreciate your candid responses as we discuss these issues, Mr. Vice President, and I believe you appreciate ours as well.

        So, Mr. Vice President, once again welcome to the United States.  I’ve always believed that the best way -- sometimes, the only way -- to truly understand a country is to see it with your own eyes.  As you know, there’s an old Chinese saying, better to travel 10,000 miles than read 10,000 books.  Although I read Dr. Kissinger’s book on China, I felt that my trip to your country was at least as important last summer.  (Laughter.)

        Actually, Mr. Vice President, I can’t thank you enough for the hospitality you extended to me in my trip.  And I would like to, with your permission, propose a toast -- a toast to a successful visit for the Vice President and the increasing cooperation and understanding that will help both our nations continue to increase this relationship and may it benefit not only us, but the whole world.

        Mr. Vice President.  (Applause.)  

        (A toast was offered.)

        VICE PRESIDENT XI:  (As interpreted)  Mr. Vice President, Madam Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it gives me great pleasure to attend this luncheon hosted jointly by Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton, for me and my colleagues.

        Last August, Vice President Biden paid a successful visit to China.  I’m now in the United States on a return visit at his kind invitation.  The purpose of my visit is to implement the agreement between our two presidents, enhance China-U.S. strategic trust, broaden practical cooperation, deepen people-to-people friendship, and further advance the cooperative partnership between our two countries.

        This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communique.  Forty years ago, with the extraordinary courage and vision of statesmen, the leaders of our two countries opened the door of China-U.S. exchanges that had been sealed off for years.

        Despite some twists and turns over the past four decades, China-U.S. relations have kept moving forward, scoring achievements of historic proportions.  The growth of China-U.S. relations has brought huge benefits to the two countries and two peoples, and lent a strong impetus to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.  The China-U.S. relationship has become one of the most important, dynamic, and promising bilateral relationships in the world.  

        As the saying goes, when you drink water, don’t forget those who dug the well.  Today, when we enjoy the fruit of China-U.S. relations, we should be grateful to the generations of Chinese and American leaders for their outstanding contribution to the new chapter in the annals of China-U.S. relations.  We should also be grateful to the Chinese and American friends from various sectors, including many who are present today, for the painstaking and resourceful efforts they have made for the development of China-U.S. relations.

        In the past three years during the Obama administration, China-U.S. relations have, on the whole, maintained positive momentum of growth.  In January last year, President Hu Jintao paid a visit to the United States.  He and President Obama reached an important agreement on working together to build a China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, charting the course for the long-term development of China-U.S. relations.  We are glad to see that the two countries have further deepened practical cooperation in a wide array of areas and carried out productive communication and coordination on a range of major international, regional, and global issues.  

        This morning, I had a meeting with President Obama and held talks with Vice President Biden at the White House.  We had an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and major issues of shared interest and reached a lot of new and important consensus.  We all believe that the two sides should focus on our common interests and open a new path of cooperative partnership between major countries featuring harmonious coexistence, sound interactions and win-win cooperation.  To this end, our two sides should treat each other with sincerity and candor and enhanced dialogue and communication.  We should respect each other and strengthen strategic, mutual trust.  We should keep pace with the times and expand practical cooperation.  We should look ahead to the future and step up people-to-people exchanges.  And we should intensify coordination and work together to meet challenges.

        President Obama, Vice President Biden and I devoted the greater part of our discussion on economic and trade issues.  We share the view that as the international economic and financial situation remains grim and as ensuring growth, adjusting structure, and promoting employment are high on the domestic agenda of both countries, we must continue to make concerted efforts to tide over difficulties, accelerate the building of the comprehensive and the mutually beneficial economic partnership, and maintain steady economic recovery and growth in both countries and the world as a whole.

        We should tap our cooperation potential, create more bright spots in our cooperation, and strive for greater balance in trade and investment between the two countries.  We should address each other’s economic and trade concerns through dialogue and consultation, not protectionism, and uphold the mutually beneficial pattern of China-U.S. economic relations and trade.  

        We also had a candid exchange of views on human rights and other issues.  I stressed that China has made tremendous and well-recognized achievements in the field of human rights over the past 30 plus years since reform and opening up.  Of course, there is always room for improvement when it comes to human rights.  Given China’s huge population, considerable regional diversity, and uneven development, we’re still faced with many challenges in improving people’s livelihood and advancing human rights.  

        The Chinese Government will always put people’s interests first and take seriously people’s aspirations and demands.  We will, in the light of China’s national conditions, continue to take concrete and effective policies and measures to promote social fairness, justice and harmony, and push forward China’s course of human rights.

        At the same time, we’re ready to conduct candid and constructive dialogue and exchanges on human rights with the United States and other countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect, with a view to enhancing understanding, narrowing differences, learning from each other, and achieving common progress.

        China is the world’s largest developing country, while the United States is the largest developed country.  To build a new type of cooperative partnership between two countries like ours is a pioneering endeavor with great and far-reaching significance.  There is no precedent for us to follow and no ready experience for us to refer to.  We can only do what Mr. Deng Xiaoping said, “Cross the river by feeling the stones.”  Or what Secretary Clinton one quoted:  “When confronted by mountains, one finds a way through.  When blocked by a river, one finds a way to bridge to the other side.”  A Chinese pop song goes like this:  “May I ask where the path is?  It is where you take your first step.”

        I’m convinced that China and the United States have the wisdom, ability and means to maintain and develop their cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.  And by doing so, we’ll set an unprecedented and inspiring example for countries with different political systems, histories, cultures, and levels of economic development to cultivate positive and cooperative relations.

        I now propose a toast to the health of Vice President Biden and Secretary Clinton, and that of all the friends present, to the remarkable development of China-U.S. relations in the past 40 years and to make even better tomorrow of China-U.S. relations.  Cheers.

        (A toast was offered.)  (Applause.)

END 2:03 P.M. EST

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