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Envoy seeks to put ties with US on track

Guided by Xi's priorities, ambassador tells of his mission to act as a bridge

Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang. (PHOTO / CHINESE EMBASSY IN THE US)

Weeks after China's top envoy to the United States took office in late July, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden had a phone call in which Xi said "getting the relationship right is not optional, but something we must do and must do well".

Qin Gang, now two months into the job as China's ambassador to the US, said in Washington on Tuesday: "My job here is to work with various sectors of the US to fulfill what President Xi has expected of us."

Since arriving in the US capital on July 28, Qin has described his job as seeking to build bridges of communication and cooperation with all sectors in the US.

He told the US business community on Sept 13 that he will act as a "bridge and bond" between the two countries and will be a good "listener and helper" in promoting the common interests of China and the US.

Now his mission as a top envoy is laser-focused: follow the spirit of the leaders' call and work together with the US to push back on track a relationship that has plunged to its lowest level since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1979.

"China will follow the spirit of the two presidents' call and work with the US side, on the basis of respecting each other's core concerns and properly managing differences, advance coordination and cooperation bilaterally and on major international and regional issues," Qin said.

Areas of cooperation include climate change, COVID-19 and economic recovery, and the purpose of such efforts is to "bring China-US relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible", he said at a virtual reception to mark the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. China's National Day is this Friday, Oct 1.

"Whether China and the US, two major countries with different history, culture, social system and in different development stages, choose peaceful coexistence or conflict and confrontation, prefer win-win cooperation or zero-sum game, concerns the well-being of the two peoples and the future of the world," he said.

The ambassador, who had tweeted his congratulations to Team USA on winning the most medals at the recent Tokyo Olympic Games, extended his invitation to US athletes to join the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, scheduled to get underway in four months.

Also speaking at the online reception, Jacob J. Lew, chair of the National Committee on US-China Relations, extended his best wishes for China's National Day.

Lew, a former US treasury secretary, said Washington and Beijing have a "shared responsibility" to stabilize the relationship and move it in a productive direction.

"Doing so will require both sides to examine their own approach. Effective engagement requires mutual respect; effective outcomes need to embrace practices that are fair and consistent with international norms," he said.

Productive dialogue

Lew said that allowing silence to replace productive dialogue in areas where the interests of the two countries converge, such as climate change, would be a missed opportunity.

Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, said the US business community attaches great importance to China and looks forward to deepening cooperation.

A survey the organization conducted of its members in June found that 95 percent of US companies doing business in China were profitable last year.

On behalf of the Chinese community across the US, Florence Fang, a Chinese-American businesswoman, publisher, and philanthropist active in the San Francisco area, told the online event that she believes a good China-US relationship ensures a better world.

"We hope for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and also for the stability and prosperity of America," said Fang, who came to the US 61 years ago. "We will continue to support the development of China and promote the China-US relationship as a strong bridge and bond between the two countries."