"As the Year of the Dragon Meets the Year 2000, Opportunities for Increased Trade and Better Relations with China Develop"

“China may not have obtained permanent normal trade relations with the U.S. yet, or have been admitted into the World Trade Organization, but Gu Sicong, deputy consul-general of the People’s Republic of China, of San Francisco, recently made the case that the U.S. should not miss the opportunity to increase ties and trade with his country.Gu, speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Tacoma at the Tacoma Sheraton Ballroom, said China’s ascension to member status in the WTO, along with the normalization of trade relations with the U.S. would be beneficial to both the U.S. and China.When President Nixon and Mao Zedong reopened U.S.-Chinese relations 28 years ago, and relations were normalized in 1979 under President Carter, the landscape of the geopolitics of the world were changed, Gu said.Through numerous challenges and some setbacks since that time, Gu said remarkable progress has been made between the two countries. In 1999, bilateral trade between the two increased to $61.5 billion, Gu said – 25 times that of 1972. The U.S. is now the second largest trade partner for China, with China being the fourth largest to the U.S., Gu said.So far, Gu noted, 28,000 joint ventures have opened in China with American businesses, totaling $29.2 billion in investment from the U.S. The signing of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China on China’s accession to the WTO is another important step, Gu added.Further exchanges between the two countries continue to grow. Over the past two decades, more than 160,000 Chinese students have studied in the U.S., while over 30,000 American students and scholars students studied in China. There has also been increases of exchanges in culture, science, technology and military fields, Gu said. More than 80 Chinese cities now have sister cities in the U.S., including Fuzhou and Tacoma.China attaches great importance to developing a sound and stable relation with the United States, Gu said. It is first because the world today is far from tranquil though factors for making durable peace are on the rise.Gu said the two countries have had good cooperation in ensuring peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific realm and elsewhere. Continued cooperation between the U.S. and China is necessary, Gu said, especially in promoting stability on the Korean peninsula, supervising the nuclear race in South Asia, in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and advancing the Middle East peace process. The U.S. and China have a common responsibility and shared interests in global issues, Gu said.China and the U.S. can complement each other too, Gu said, with China as the largest developing country and the U.S. as the largest developed nation. Both countries enjoy broad prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation in economics and trade and in the scientific and technological fields, according to Gu.Gu said China’s economy will continue to grow at an annual rate of over 7 percent in the next 20 years and is estimating importing goods equivalent to $1,500 billion during the next five years.When, Gu said, not if, China becomes a member of WTO, American businesses will benefit from more opportunities for trade and investment with China.Still, China and the U.S. will not always see eye-to-eye, Gu said. These differences need to be dealt with by the principles in the three Joint China-U.S. Communiqués, which are a mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference into each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit.For sound stable relations between the two countries, it is imperative; Gu stressed, to first develop mutual interests and enlarge our common ground, and then to handle differences between the two nations appropriately.The most critical and sensitive issue at the core of the China-America relations at present and for years to come is (the) Taiwan issue, which has always been the biggest obstacle of China-U.S. relations for further improvement, Gu said.China is concerned, however, over recent U.S. involvement with Taiwan, Gu said – especially the recent passage of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act by the House of Representatives.If the act is made into law, it would seriously aggravate China’s security environment, increase tension across the Taiwan Straits, jeopardize peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and bring grave damage to China-U.S. relations, Gu said.Gu said the leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Straits can discuss any issues of concern to the people in Taiwan, but only on the basis of the one China principle. China is anxious to hear what the new Taiwanese leader will say during his inauguration address May 20, and will also be watching his actions, Gu said.Another important issue is PNTR, Gu said. The bilateral agreement on China’s accession to the WTO culminated 13 years of effort on the Chinese side, Gu said, and is the most significant development in our bilateral economic ties. According to the agreement, Gu said, China’s average industrial and agricultural tariffs will drop by a significant margin.PNTR is more important to the U.S. than China, Gu said. American exporters could have the right to open their own distribution services in China, American high-tech companies will compete on the same terms as their European counterparts already do, and Washington State will have more export opportunities.Gu noted over 40 governors, including Gary Locke, have signed a letter calling for PNTR status to be granted to China. Some companies in Washington have joined CEOs of over 200 American high-tech firms in signing a letter urging Congress to support PNTR.Washington will benefit greatly from PNTR with China, Gu said. Washington’s total trade volume is one seventh of the U.S. total with China, Gu said, and China is in third place in Washington’s total of trade with other countries. In 1999, the total exports of Washington to China reached $2.1 billion, not including nearly half a billion to Hong Kong.Washington has opened a trade office in Shanghai, Gu said, and a sister-state relationship is developing between Washington and Sichuan Province.Common interests will continue to increase, Gu said, along with the need for a closer relationship between the two countries. Both must leave the cold war mentality behind, Gu said, and the perception of China as a threat to the U.S. could not be further from the truth.China has among the lowest per capita income or share in gross domestic product in the world, Gu said. China is currently fully engaged in reform and modernization, and will remain a developing country for years to come, Gu said.An open, stable and prosperous China is a blessing to world peace, stability and prosperity, Gu said. Whereas a close, poor and chaotic China is not a boon for anyone.”