Thank you, all, very much. (Applause.)
Mr. President, thank you for your gracious introduction. We have an expression in the United States Senate where I served for many years when we want to say something personal, we say, permit me a point of personal privilege. I would like to introduce you to two of my family members who I’ve brought along with me, my daughter-in-law Kathleen Biden and my granddaughter Naomi Biden. Would you guys stand? (Applause.)
It would be more appropriate to say Naomi brought me along with her since she’s a budding Chinese speaker, been taking Chinese for five years, so I’ve been listening to her on the whole trip.
I want to again thank you very much. I had a wonderful few days in Beijing and a series of very positive and productive conversations with Chinese leaders. And I’m pleased to make my first visit to western China, which has played such an incredible, such an incredible role in this nation’s proud, proud history, and which today is the vanguard of Chinese -- China’s high-tech future.
Two years ago, Sichuan province suffered one of the greatest natural disasters in China’s recent history. And the American people were inspired -- were inspired by the way you all came together to help one another during that crisis. And I’m absolutely amazed as I drive around the city, and I’ll be moving out into the province later, after this speech -- I’m amazed at how quickly you have rebuilt and you have recovered.
The people of Chengdu, let me say simply that your hospitality has more than lived up to your reputation as the “land of abundance,” so again, thank you so very much for that hospitality.
It’s also great to be here on a university campus. I also want to thank our host, the university which counts amongst its alumni some of the most illustrious figures in recent Chinese history, including Zhu De and Ba Jin, both of whom are -- one a literary icon; the other, one of the most illustrious figures, and a founding father of the republic.
I’m also pleased to be joined today by -- he’s already been introduced -- but by our ambassador, our new ambassador Gary Locke whose grandfather came to the United States from Canton in the 1890s and toiled as a house servant in the United States in exchange for being able to get English language lessons. In less than two generations -- two generations later, Gary Locke, his grandson, has served as the governor of his home state of Washington, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the chief of mission in one our most important diplomatic posts in the world.
I share this story with you not because it’s unique, but because it is uniquely American. While not every child or grandchild of an immigrant will reach the pinnacle of society as Ambassador Locke has, America continues to put such possibilities within reach of all those who seek our shores.
On my first visit to China, which was more than 30 years ago when I was a young United States senator in 1979, I was with the first delegation of congressional leaders to visit China after normalization. We had several days of business with then Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. It was a very different country then, but what was absolutely clear to me was that China was on the cusp of a remarkable transformation.
Changes were just getting underway. My first introduction here in Sichuan that would begin transforming a largely agrarian society into an engine of economic global and help lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty was -- seemed to me clear at the time. That first visit came amid a debate in the United States of America similar to the one that exists today about how to view China’s emergence. Let me be clear -- let me be clear: I believed in 1979 and said so and I believe now that a rising China is a positive development, not only for the people of China but for the United States and the world as a whole.
A rising China will fuel economic growth and prosperity and it will bring to the fore a new partner with whom we can meet global challenges together. When President Obama and I took office in January of 2009, we made our relationship with China a top priority. We were determined to set it on a stable and sustainable course that would benefit the citizens of both our countries. Our Presidents have met nine times since then, including very successful state visits in Beijing and Washington, and have spoken numerous times by telephone.
Direct discussions between senior policymakers and the personal ties that result from such discussions in my view over the last 35 years of conducting foreign policy are the keys to building cooperation. They're built on understanding. They allow us to better understand each other and allow us to define our interests in ways that are clear so that each one of us know what the other country’s interests are, and to see the world through the eyes of the other with the intention of preventing miscommunications and misconceptions that tend to fuel mistrust.
With that goal in mind, we have worked very hard to develop our cooperative partnership through more than 60 separate dialogues on issues of matter to both China and to the United States; and I would suggest to the world as a whole.
The premier forum is what we refer to as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue which brings together policymakers from across both governments to discuss a range of issues from trade barriers to climate change. But we also recognize -- we also recognized immediately on starting that the importance more directly addressing security issues, as well. That's why in May we jointly launched the first Strategic Security Dialogue, a new channel for civilian and military leaders to discuss sensitive topics, including cyber and maritime security. That's why it’s also important that our military leaders work together, get to know one another -- not just our political leaders, but our military leaders -- as Admiral Mullen and General Chen have begun to do in their recent exchange of meetings.
The fact is China and the United States face many of the same threats and share many of the same objectives and responsibilities. But because we sometimes view threats from different perspectives -- that is China and the United States view them from different perspectives, our -- or favor a different way in dealing with what we perceive to be joint threats, our generals should be talking to each other alongside with our diplomats, as frequently as our diplomats do. Like China, the United States has a huge stake in the prosperity and stability of Asia and the Pacific.
I look forward to visiting two other Asian nations on this trip. When I leave China, I’ll go to Mongolia and then to Japan. The United States -- and I realize this occasionally causes some discomfiture -- but the United States is a Pacific power, and we will remain a specific power -- a Pacific power.