Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Chinese ambassador Zhou Wenzhong talks on Taiwan, Tibet, trade

December 6, 2007

Daily News Business and Real Estate Writer
Palm Beach Daily News, FL
Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A one-time chef, well seasoned in the West, Chinese Ambassador Zhou
Wenzhong served up julienned tidbits on trade, Taiwan and Tibet — with a
heaping portion on his nation's critical bond with the United States.

Wenzhong addressed a joint meeting Tuesday of the Forum Club of the Palm
Beaches and the World Affairs Council of the Florida Palm Beaches. About
450 people attended the luncheon at the Kravis Center.

The diplomat was introduced by Forum Club President Al Malefatto, who
said Palm Beacher Bill Bone had acted as "chauffeur" for Wenzhong and
his wife during a tour of the island Monday.

Cooking and being a diplomat are "quite similar," mixing ingredients to
make flavors tasty to different people, Wenzhong said.

He touched on some timely topics, such as safety concerns about
Chinese-made toys and other imports.

After highlighting some aspects of U.S.-China relations, he took
questions from the audience.

* What about the future of Taiwan?

Beijing does not welcome the island's campaign to join the United
Nations as Taiwan instead of "The Republic of China."

Taiwan remains a province of China, Wenzhong said.

"The idea of two countries is not acceptable to the international
community," he said. "The United States has made it very clear, there
should not be any unilateral effort to change the status quo."

Although Taiwan is "pushing very hard for independence" via a U.N.
referendum, China has called for all governments to oppose it. A
political offensive by Taiwan will only "strain relations across the
strait and in the region, and serves no one's interest."

* What about Tibet?

Tibet has been a part of Chinese territory since the 13th century,
Wenzhong said. Since 1949 and democratic reforms, "Tibet has become an
autonomous region ... within the big family of China. ... There are 56
nationalities in China. Tibet is one. Its culture and heritage will be
preserved at all levels."

As Tibet's population grows, "China is allocating lots of resources. ...
Every province has been asked to help Tibet develop."

"The economic growth is quite good, and social progress is obvious."

The rights of Tibet's hundreds of thousands of religious people are
protected, he said.

* Why was the USS Kitty Hawk denied a port call in Hong Kong on

Since Hong Kong's return to "its motherland," China has reviewed
port-call requests one by one and rejected "a few," Wenzhong said. This
time, Kitty Hawk was denied entry. "Then it was approved," after Chinese
officials learned that many sailors' families had traveled to Hong Kong
for a holiday visit. By the time China reversed the denial "for
humanitarian concerns," the battle group had decided to sail on to Japan.

? Can you address consumers' concerns about the quality of merchandise
imported from China?

Compared to the total volume of toys exported by China, the recalled
toys make up "a very small fraction." China is empathetic to concerns
and will do all it can to make sure all exports are up to standards.

Recalls happen because of manufacturing errors, different standards,
"also design flaws." Recalls can happen to products made anywhere:
China, the United States and other countries, he said.

* Has your view of American culture shifted since you moved here?

"The world is changing, and no one can get away from that. Maybe people
are more conscious of crises (such as climate change, the energy supply
and water supply). Culture may be influenced by that. The same is true
in China. People are talking about climate change more than at any time
in history."

* Who will win the most medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing?

"It's quite obvious," from past games. "You all have an answer in your
mind, and I'll agree to that."

Wenzhong said China and the United States will have "very strong
competitors this time," and he wished both countries well.

Before his current appointment in 2005, Wenzhong was vice minister of
foreign affairs. A career diplomat, he also has been China's ambassador
to Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados.

Highlighting China's emerging strengths, he said "the lives of its
citizens continue to improve," with life expectancy up from 64 to 72,
and an average annual growth rate of 9.6 percent for gross domestic product.

"Yet we are fully aware that China remains a developing country ... a
large population with a weak economic foundation," he said.

The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October
was "a crucial stage in China's development ..." and led to a major
change in the growth model.

China set a new goal: to be "a moderately prosperous society in all
aspects." It will "unswervingly pursue economic development" with a mind
to allocating resources and attending to the environment.

China's future and destiny are closely connected with the rest of the
world, and it cannot achieve its potential in isolation. Nor can the
world attain prosperity without China, he said, alluding to "growing
protectionist sentiments."

Trade protectionism should never be an option, he said, and referred to
hundreds of U.S. companies that oppose any legislation involving
unilateral trade penalties.

China and the United States have significant global influence, and their
strategic alliance "is one of the most important bilateral relationships
in the world," he said.

As an example of the cooperative approach, Wenzhong described a new
initiative for dealing with the Korean peninsula in which China and the
United States will put together a Northeast Asia security structure.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank