May 31st, 2018

Xiao Wunan: Cultural identity is the cornerstone of Sino-US relations

On May 31 local time, at the invitation of several agencies in the United States, Xiao Wunan, Executive Vice Chairman of the Asia Pacific Exchange & Cooperation Foundation and president of the China Culture Center (USA), held a symposium with HTTV USA on "Opportunities & Challenges for China in the New Era" in Los Angeles. Participants, included people from the governments of Los Angeles and California, industry organizations and other individuals with social influence. They discussed Sino-US relations and other topics of mutual concern. Mr. Xiao shared his views on forging sustained, healthy and stable Sino-US relations, which were well-received by the participants.

Xiao Wunan (2nd from right), Li Ji (2nd from left), president of HTTV USA, Dong Fuxin (left), famous American social activist & Republican local convener, and Yu Qing (right), president of the One Belt and One Road Association, attend the symposium.

Mr. Xiao said reality and a profound historical context lie beneath what President Xi stressed during the "Mar-a-Lago Meeting": "There are a thousand reasons for China-US relations to continue to be good and not a single reason to break it." It has been only four decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, yet the two have been enjoying a much longer history of friendly exchanges. Sino-US cooperation has had important impact on regional stability and world peace in different historical periods, such as World War II and China's reform and opening up. After China's entry into the WTO, Sino-US relations became fully developed. The bilateral cooperation has yielded fruitful results at various levels and in different fields and issues. This has contributed to the well-being of the people of both countries and to humanity as a whole. Today, the problems confronting China and the US are reflected in different fields and at different levels but are generally within a normal scope with room for improvement. One issue that needs our attention is how the cultural identities of the two peoples can be strengthened. For example, in the presenter's opening remarks and in the private talks of some American representatives, people wonder why the topic was significant. In fact, this exactly reflects the cultural and philosophical differences between China and the United States. American people believe that bilateral relations should begin with concrete affairs, then mutual trust will gradually deepen, upon which a profound friendship is finally built; we Chinese tend to believe that we should first define the larger concept, then work to build friendship and trust from the vision, goal and strategic framework, and finally arrive at concrete issues. These are completely different ways of thinking. Several years ago, when China proposed the construction of a new Sino-US relationship, some people in Mr. Obama administration were puzzled and said that the proposal was unspecific and lacked focus. So we did not get much response from the US. In fact, the crux of the so-called "Sino-US trade war" also lies in a difference of cultural identity. From China’s standpoint, our focus is on the long-term development of the Sino-US relations, while the US’s standpoint is seeking to solve real issues. There is no fundamental difference between the two sides in achieving the goal of strengthening and improving bilateral relations. The difference lies in the approach and expression. And of course, since the United States is a pluralistic society, it is natural for it to have different views and standpoints. Mr. Xiao's speech led to a heated discussion. Li Ji, president of HTTV USA, also made a keynote speech, in which he agreed that the mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples could be promoted and their friendship maintained through cultural exchanges.

David Rockefeller (left), family patriarch of the Rockefeller, Steve Rockefeller (right), a family member, and Xiao Wunan (center), Executive Vice Chairman of the Foundation, jointly promote Sino-US cooperation.

Mr. Xiao has devoted more than three decades towards nurturing friendly exchanges between the people of China and the United States and has achieved fruitful results politically, economically, culturally and socially. His work has been highly recognized and awarded by both governments, industry organizations and relevant institutions. In the future, Mr. Xiao will continue to play a positive and constructive role and provide his wisdom and strength for a sustained, healthy and stable friendship between China and the United States.

Mr. McConnell (left), Senate Majority Leader, pictured with Mr. Xiao Wunan after the symposium.