Remarks by Minister Xu Xueyuan at the Opening Ceremony of “U.S.-CHINA Agriculture Roundtable”
27 March 2021
President Lin Songtian, Governor Bob Holden,
Distinguished government representatives from both sides,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the “U.S.-CHINA Agriculture Roundtable” on behalf of Ambassador Cui Tiankai. With a rich program and extensive participation, this event is an important effort to strengthen dialogue and cooperation at the subnational level between China and the United States. I wish the roundtable a great success, and hope that it will produce tangible outcomes for both sides.
On the eve of Chinese New Year, President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden had an in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relations in their phone call, which has pointed the way forward for the relationship, and sent an encouraging signal to the two countries and the world. One segment of the call was impressive. President Xi quoted President Biden’s own words – America can be defined in one word: Possibilities – and expressed the hope that the possibilities will now point toward an improvement of China-U.S. relations at this critical juncture. Guided by the spirit of the phone call, China is ready to work with the U.S. side to focus on cooperation, manage differences, and work to increase the possibility of understanding, inclusiveness and cooperation, while reducing and eliminating the possibility of suspicion, wariness and confrontation.
Last week, Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi were invited to Anchorage for the China-U.S. high-level strategic dialogue with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The two sides conducted candid, in-depth, long-time and constructive communication on both countries’ domestic and foreign policies, China-U.S. relations and major international and regional issues of common interest. The two sides agreed to follow the spirit of the Presidents’ telephone conversation to maintain dialogue and communication, conduct mutually beneficial cooperation, avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment, forestall conflict and confrontation, and promote sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations. Both sides hoped to continue such high-level strategic communication and reached important consensus on a number of issues, including adjusting travel and visa policies in light of the COVID-19 developments, gradually normalizing personnel exchanges, establishing a joint working group on climate change, etc. We believe that the implementation of the consensus will create favorable conditions for resuming and enhancing people-to-people and subnational exchanges in the future.
It has been repeatedly proved in both history and reality that China and the U.S. stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Agriculture is an important area on our cooperation list, as we are both major agricultural countries. In China, agriculture has been regarded as the very foundation of the society since ancient times. The CPC and the Chinese government have always given top priority to developing agriculture, benefiting rural areas and enriching farmers. Starting this year, China will implement the 14th Five-Year Plan, and an important part of the Plan is to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other, so as to open up at a higher level. To build the new development paradigm, it is crucial to promote high-quality agricultural development and rural vitalization, which demonstrates the commitment of the CPC and the Chinese government to putting people first and achieving common prosperity. For the United States, agriculture concerns not only the wellbeing of farmers and ranchers, the prosperity of the vast Midwestern states, but also economic recovery, social stability and the long-term development of the entire country.
Agriculture also carries great significance for China-U.S. relations. I agree with Governor Holden that agriculture is more than just about trade and business. It is the bedrock of a healthy U.S.-China relationship. China is the world’s largest importer of agricultural products while the U.S. the biggest exporter in this field. We are natural partners with strong complementarity. In 2020, China’s agricultural import from the U.S., which was over 24.5 billion US dollars, bucked the trend to grow by 67% year on year and accounted for nearly 20% of its total goods imports from the U.S. With the further implementation of the phase-one economic and trade agreement, China is expected to import more American agricultural products. In addition, the two sides also have great potential in their cooperation in agricultural science, personnel training, sustainable development as well as animal and plant inspection and quarantine. The joint efforts of both sides to strengthen agricultural cooperation will surely create a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness for the two peoples and provide more impetus for the growth of China-U.S. relations.
The China-U.S. relationship is rooted in the local and the people. We will never forget that facing the raging COVID-19 and political virus, our people have been supporting each other to confront the difficulties. This has been a bright spot at the dark moments of our bilateral relations. The CPAFFC and the USHCA have always been committed to subnational and people-to-people exchanges between our two countries and made indispensable contribution to the two peoples’ understanding, friendship and cooperation. I believe that the political leaders and friends from all walks of life attending this forum will once again send a strong message of yearning for exchanges and cooperation. As an old Chinese saying goes, “Sow one millet in spring and reap ten thousand in autumn.” I am confident that the seeds of cooperation we sow this spring will bring in harvest for the two peoples and give strong impetus to the sound and steady growth of China-U.S. relations.