As the new century proceeds, it is imperative to “move towards a constructive strategic partnership” between China and the United States, Chinese President Jiang Zemin told a US newsman recently.
Jiang made the remark in an interview with Mike Wallace, 82-year-old anchorman of “60 Minutes,” a program for the Columbia Broadcasting System, in the seaside resort of Beidaihe, about 300 km east of Beijing, on August 15.
“I believe that whoever becomes the next president of the United States must try to improve Sino-US relations, for this is in the strategic interests of the whole world,” said Jiang.
There are some people in the United States who would not be happy to see the two countries become friends.
He said that it is possibly because of the economic power and leading edge in science and technology that the United States tends to overestimate itself and its position in the world, adding that there may be a touch of hegemonism in the position of the United States.
China is a country with a 5,000-year history and culture and more than 1.2 billion people, Jiang said, noting that “we have established a significant economic foundation and national strength over the past 20 years of reform and opening-up. So I am afraid that the United States simply cannot afford to look down on China.”
Jiang pointed out that the National Missile Defense and the Theatre Missile Defense programs the United States is bent on developing are not in the interest of world peace.
“The programs will create a world in which not all people are committed to the common cause of peace and development. It may be perceived by peace-loving people as a threat,” he said.
China is making progress on human rights, Jiang said, “I often ask myself how to ensure a happy life for and how to constantly improve the living standards of the 1.2 billion Chinese people.”
“First I joined the student movement fighting against Japanese imperialism,” Jiang recalled. "After World War II, we fought against the reactionary regime of the Kuomintang, because at that time there was no democracy and no freedom in the country.
“But ever since the People's Republic of China was founded, we've always been working to promote people's democracy in our country,” the Chinese President said.
Jiang went on to say, “We cannot allow those people, who all have ulterior motives, to overthrow the government using the pretext of democracy and freedom.”
Under China's Constitution and its laws, people have the freedom of religious belief. Jiang stressed that Falun Gong is a cult and that it is totally different from religion.
“I think China and the United States differ greatly in their values,” Jiang said.
“Every day, 52,000 babies are born in our country, which adds up to 20 million a year,” Jiang said. “So, it is indeed a very tough job to improve the living standards of the Chinese people,” he said.
Jiang said that the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people are unequivocal in their belief that the development of China is dependent on the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Jiang said that the policy of reform and opening-up initiated by Deng Xiaoping has been a great success, and added that although the theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, as advocated by Deng Xiaoping, does allow some people and certain areas to become prosperous before others, the ultimate objective is to achieve prosperity for all.
China has always attached great importance to spiritual civilization and moral integrity, he said.
“We want to learn what is advanced and progressive from the West, including its science and technology and its experience in managing the economy. Of course, what we learn must be combined with China's specific conditions,” he said.
It is exactly because China has been following these principles that the country has scored great achievements in the past few decades, he said.
People in the West hope that China will become a capitalist country, Jiang said, adding that “if capitalism prevails throughout the world, won't the world be a very dull place? I believe the world should be diverse and colorful.”
On China's political system, Jiang said the election systems of China and the United States could never be exactly the same because the historical traditions, levels of education, cultural and economic development and social systems of the two countries differ.
On the issue of press freedom in China, Jiang said that “we do have freedom of the press in China.”
He told the American newsman that China carries out the policy of “allowing one hundred different flowers to blossom and one hundred different schools of thoughts to contend.”
Jiang stressed that freedom of the press “should be subordinate to, serve and defend the interests of the nation and the public,” Jiang stressed. “I suppose it is the same in the West.”
“I think all countries and parties must have their own publications to publicize their ideas and propositions,” he said.
“The only thing I want to say is that in such a big country with a population of over 1.2 billion, the media does indeed play a very important role in shaping public opinion,” Jiang said.
“I think for both the Chinese media and Western media, one thing is very important, which is that they should never distort facts though they are free to have their own opinions,” Jiang said.
People in China pay great attention to the media, especially the People's Daily, Jiang noted, and if there is a factual error, people would take it for the truth.
He told the American reporter that “it is not like in your country where some people may sometimes make up stories at will and where it doesn't matter if you don't tell the whole truth.”
He said that he hoped people will learn a lot of useful information from the Internet.
However, on that point, he said that the Internet also sometimes contained unhealthy things, such as pornography, which does great harm to China's young people.
“We need to be selective, as you are in the United States,” Jiang said. “For instance, as far as I know, there is little US coverage of news in China.”
Jiang also told the anchorman that China continues to resolutely combat corruption.
The purposes and principles of the Chinese Communist Party are to serve the people, Jiang said, adding that in this process “we win the trust and confidence of our people.”
Jiang said that he thinks “corruption is a historical phenomenon in that it has happened in all countries, both in the past and the present.”
“In order to gradually eradicate corruption, we need to depend on our legal system, on our media and also on education,” Jiang said.