Deng Xiaoping’s historic US trip resonates
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai was a graduate student in Shanghai when China and the US formally established diplomatic ties on Jan 1, 1979.
Just a few weeks after the establishment of full diplomatic relations, then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping made a nine-day visit to the US, the first by a leader of the People’s Republic of China.
The trip left many vivid images, such as Deng donning a 10-gallon cowboy hat at a rodeo in Texas.
The historic visit was chronicled in a 90-minute documentary Mr. Deng Goes to Washington, which was shown on Wednesday evening at the Meridian International Center in Washington.
Cui said before the screening that he did not realize at the time that visit would not only change China but also his personal life. To Cui, it was a great time to review that part of history, given the US political election was just over.
President Xi Jinping is expected to meet US President Barack Obama in Lima, Peru, this week on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit. Xi and US Presidentelect Donald Trump talked on the phone last Sunday, a chat that Cui described as “very good and friendly”. He said both hope to build a stronger and more stable relationship.
The career diplomat described the policy of stable and strong China-US ties as a bipartisan consensus in the United States over the past four decades. He said the two countries should build consensus and identify common ground.
He also hopes for continuity, such as continuing the military-to-military exchange, people-to-people ties and the more than 100 mechanisms for dialogues and coordination on bilateral and international issues.
He also called for creativity in the relationship, saying that many global challenges call for joint efforts by China and the US. He believes the two countries should show the world that they will be able to overcome the trap of great power rivalry.
“We should turn all these challenges into opportunities,” Cui said.
Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski fondly recalled the dinner he and his wife hosted for Deng during the visit, praising Deng as a man of great wisdom.
Brzezinski said China and the US have major responsibilities to consult on major global challenges.
Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping waves his famous 10-gallon cowboy hat during his visit to the US in 1979.