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  • President Obama: (greets the audience in Chinese)

  • (applause)

  • Good afternoon.

  • It is a great honor for me to be here in Shanghai,

  • and to have this opportunity to speak with all of you.

  • I'd like to thank Fudan University's President Yang for

  • his hospitality and his gracious welcome.

  • I'd also like to thank our outstanding Ambassador,

  • Jon Huntsman, who exemplifies the deep ties and respect

  • between our nations.

  • I don't know what he said, but I hope it was good.

  • (laughter)

  • What I'd like to do is to make some opening remarks,

  • and then what I'm really looking forward to doing is taking

  • questions, not only from students who are in the

  • audience, but also we've received questions online,

  • which will be asked by some of the students who are here in the

  • audience, as well as by Ambassador Huntsman.

  • And I am very sorry that my Chinese is not as good as your

  • English, but I am looking forward to this chance to have a dialogue.

  • This is my first time traveling to China,

  • and I'm excited to see this majestic country.

  • Here, in Shanghai, we see the growth that has caught the

  • attention of the world -- the soaring skyscrapers,

  • the bustling streets and entrepreneurial activity.

  • And just as I'm impressed by these signs of China's journey

  • to the 21st century, I'm eager to see those ancient places that

  • speak to us from China's distant past.

  • Tomorrow and the next day I hope to have a chance when I'm in

  • Beijing to see the majesty of the Forbidden City and the

  • wonder of the Great Wall.

  • Truly, this is a nation that encompasses both a rich history

  • and a belief in the promise of the future.

  • The same can be said of the relationship between our two countries.

  • Shanghai, of course, is a city that has great meaning in the

  • history of the relationship between the United States and China.

  • It was here, 37 years ago, that the Shanghai Communique opened

  • the door to a new chapter of engagement between our

  • governments and among our people.

  • However, America's ties to this city -- and to this country --

  • stretch back further, to the earliest days of America's independence.

  • In 1784, our founding father, George Washington,

  • commissioned the Empress of China,

  • a ship that set sail for these shores so that it could pursue

  • trade with the Qing Dynasty.

  • Washington wanted to see the ship carry the flag around the

  • globe, and to forge new ties with nations like China.

  • This is a common American impulse --

  • the desire to reach for new horizons,

  • and to forge new partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

  • Over the two centuries that have followed,

  • the currents of history have steered the relationship between

  • our countries in many directions.

  • And even in the midst of tumultuous winds,

  • our people had opportunities to forge deep and even dramatic ties.

  • For instance, Americans will never forget the hospitality

  • shown to our pilots who were shot down over your soil during

  • World War II, and cared for by Chinese civilians who risked all

  • that they had by doing so.

  • And Chinese veterans of that war still warmly greet those

  • American veterans who return to the sites where they fought to

  • help liberate China from occupation.

  • A different kind of connection was made nearly 40 years ago

  • when the frost between our countries began to thaw through

  • the simple game of table tennis.

  • The very unlikely nature of this engagement contributed to its

  • success -- because for all our differences,

  • both our common humanity and our shared curiosity were revealed.

  • As one American player described his visit to China --

  • "[The] people are just like us...The country is very similar

  • to America, but still very different."

  • Of course this small opening was followed by the achievement of

  • the Shanghai Communique, and the eventual establishment of formal

  • relations between the United States and China in 1979.

  • And in three decades, just look at how far we have come.

  • In 1979, trade between the United States and China stood at

  • roughly $5 billion -- today it tops over $400 billion each year.

  • The commerce affects our people's lives in so many ways.

  • America imports from China many of the computer parts we use,

  • the clothes we wear; and we export to China machinery that

  • helps power your industry.

  • This trade could create even more jobs on both sides of the

  • Pacific, while allowing our people to enjoy a better quality of life.

  • And as demand becomes more balanced,

  • it can lead to even broader prosperity.

  • In 1979, the political cooperation between the United

  • States and China was rooted largely in our shared rivalry

  • with the Soviet Union.

  • Today, we have a positive, constructive and comprehensive

  • relationship that opens the door to partnership on the key global

  • issues of our time -- economic recovery and the development of

  • clean energy; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and

  • the scourge of climate change; the promotion of peace and

  • security in Asia and around the globe.

  • All of these issues will be on the agenda tomorrow when I meet

  • with President Hu.

  • And in 1979, the connections among our people were limited.

  • Today, we see the curiosity of those ping-pong players

  • manifested in the ties that are being forged across many sectors.

  • The second highest number of foreign students in the United

  • States come from China, and we've seen a 50% increase in the

  • study of Chinese among our own students.

  • There are nearly 200 "friendship cities" drawing our communities together.

  • American and Chinese scientists cooperate on new research and discovery.

  • And of course, Yao Ming is just one signal of our shared love of

  • basketball -- I'm only sorry that I won't be able to see a

  • Shanghai Sharks game while I'm visiting.

  • It is no coincidence that the relationship between our

  • countries has accompanied a period of positive change.

  • China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of

  • poverty -- an accomplishment unparalleled in human history --

  • while playing a larger role in global events.

  • And the United States has seen our economy grow along with the

  • standard of living enjoyed by our people,

  • while bringing the Cold War to a successful conclusion.

  • There is a Chinese proverb: "Consider the past,

  • and you shall know the future."

  • Surely, we have known setbacks and challenges over the last 30 years.

  • Our relationship has not been without disagreement and difficulty.

  • But the notion that we must be adversaries is not predestined

  • -- not when we consider the past.

  • Indeed, because of our cooperation,

  • both the United States and China are more prosperous and more secure.

  • We have seen what is possible when we build upon our mutual

  • interests, and engage on the basis of mutual respect.

  • And yet the success of that engagement depends upon

  • understanding -- on sustaining an open dialogue,

  • and learning about one another and from one another.

  • For just as that American table tennis player pointed out --

  • we share much in common as human beings,

  • but our countries are different in certain ways.

  • I believe that each country must chart its own course.

  • China is an ancient nation, with a deeply rooted culture.

  • The United States, by comparison, is a young nation,

  • whose culture is determined by the many different immigrants

  • who have come to our shores, and by the founding documents that

  • guide our democracy.

  • Those documents put forward a simple vision of human affairs,

  • and they enshrine several core principles --

  • that all men and women are created equal,

  • and possess certain fundamental rights;

  • that government should reflect the will of the people and

  • respond to their wishes; that commerce should be open,

  • information freely accessible; and that laws,

  • and not simply men, should guarantee the administration of justice.

  • Of course, the story of our nation is not without its

  • difficult chapters.

  • In many ways -- over many years --

  • we have struggled to advance the promise of these principles to

  • all of our people, and to forge a more perfect union.

  • We fought a very painful civil war,

  • and freed a portion of our population from slavery.

  • It took time for women to be extended the right to vote,

  • workers to win the right to organize,

  • and for immigrants from different corners of the globe

  • to be fully embraced.

  • Even after they were freed, African Americans persevered

  • through conditions that were separate and not equal,

  • before winning full and equal rights.

  • None of this was easy.

  • But we made progress because of our belief in those core

  • principles, which have served as our compass through the darkest of storms.

  • That is why Lincoln could stand up in the midst of civil war and

  • declare it a struggle to see whether any nation,

  • conceived in liberty, and "dedicated to the proposition

  • that all men are created equal" could long endure.

  • That is why Dr. Martin Luther King could stand on the steps of

  • the Lincoln Memorial and ask that our nation live out the

  • true meaning of its creed.

  • That's why immigrants from China to Kenya could find a home on

  • our shores; why opportunity is available to all who would work

  • for it; and why someone like me, who less than 50 years ago would

  • have had trouble voting in some parts of America,

  • is now able to serve as its President.

  • And that is why America will always speak out for those core

  • principles around the world.

  • We do not seek to impose any system of government on any

  • other nation, but we also don't believe that the principles that

  • we stand for are unique to our nation.

  • These freedoms of expression and worship --

  • of access to information and political participation --

  • we believe are universal rights.

  • They should be available to all people,

  • including ethnic and religious minorities --

  • whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation.

  • Indeed, it is that respect for universal rights that guides

  • America's openness to other countries;

  • our respect for different cultures;

  • our commitment to international law;

  • and our faith in the future.

  • These are all things that you should know about America.

  • I also know that we have much to learn about China.

  • Looking around at this magnificent city --

  • and looking around this room -- I do believe that our nations

  • hold something important in common,

  • and that is a belief in the future.

  • Neither the United States nor China is content to rest on our achievements.

  • For while China is an ancient nation,

  • you are also clearly looking ahead with confidence, ambition,

  • and a commitment to see that tomorrow's generation can do

  • better than today's.

  • In addition to your growing economy,

  • we admire China's extraordinary commitment to science and

  • research -- a commitment borne out in everything from the

  • infrastructure you build to the technology you use.

  • China is now the world's largest Internet user --

  • which is why we were so pleased to include the Internet as part

  • of today's event.

  • This country now has the world's largest mobile phone network,

  • and it is investing in the new forms of energy that can both

  • sustain growth and combat climate change --

  • and I'm looking forward to deepening the partnership

  • between the United States and China in this critical area tomorrow.

  • But above all, I see China's future in you --

  • young people whose talent and dedication and dreams will do so

  • much to help shape the 21st century.

  • I've said many times that I believe that our world is now

  • fundamentally interconnected.

  • The jobs we do, the prosperity we build,

  • the environment we protect, the security that we seek --

  • all of these things are shared.

  • And given that interconnection, power in the 21st century is no

  • longer a zero-sum game; one country's success need not come

  • at the expense of another.

  • And that is why the United States insists we do not seek to

  • contain China's rise.

  • On the contrary, we welcome China as a strong and prosperous

  • and successful member of the community of nations --

  • a China that draws on the rights, strengths,

  • and creativity of individual Chinese like you.

  • To return to the proverb -- consider the past.

  • We know that more is to be gained when great powers

  • cooperate than when they collide.

  • That is a lesson that human beings have learned time and

  • again, and that is the example of the history between our nations.

  • And I believe strongly that cooperation must go beyond our government.

  • It must be rooted in our people --

  • in the studies we share, the business that we do,

  • the knowledge that we gain, and even in the sports that we play.

  • And these bridges must be built by young men and women just like

  • you and your counterparts in America.

  • That's why I'm pleased to announce that the United States

  • will dramatically expand the number of our students who study

  • in China to 100,000.

  • And these exchanges mark a clear commitment to build ties among

  • our people, as surely as you will help determine the destiny

  • of the 21st century.

  • And I'm absolutely confident that America has no better

  • ambassadors to offer than our young people.