|Former US president Jimmy Carter was in Shanghai yesterday to commemorate one of the most important acts of his term in office: the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States.|
Former US president Jimmy Carter was in Shanghai yesterday to commemorate one of the most important acts of his term in office: the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States.
The scene was the Jinjiang Hotel on Maoming Road, where a ground-breaking communique was signed in 1972, paving the way for the declaration of Sino-US diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979.
Carter was there yesterday for the opening ceremony of a photo show celebrating the 30th anniversary of the historic event. After the ceremony, Carter met with Chinese scholars and discussed the common values shared by Chinese and Americans.
But a lot of the day was spent reminiscing. During a talk before the photo show event, Carter told Mayor Han Zheng that when he first visited Shanghai as a naval officer six decades ago, he found the streets dominated by bicycles and pedestrians.
During this trip, he said, he was impressed by the "incredible changes" and told Han how his wife, Rosalynn, "contributed a lot to Shanghai's economy" during her shopping excursions.
Carter also mentioned W. Michael Blumenthal, who was his treasury secretary and wrote a book praising Shanghai as a safe haven for Jews escaping Nazi persecution during World War II.
More to the point for this visit, he told Chinese scholars how he advanced the relationship that began with former US presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and said he did what they were not prepared to do.
The joint communique signed at the Jinjiang Hotel in 1972 after then-President Richard Nixon met with Premier Zhou Enlai declared that it was in the interest of all nations for the US and China to work toward normalized relations. Carter completed the act seven years later.
"In those days, it was politically unpopular to form a relationship with a communist country," Carter said.
During his time in office, Carter said he held secret discussions with Deng Xiaoping, the father of China's reform and opening drive, due to the political environment back then.
The former president said he went on to develop a friendship with Deng, who he noted had a great sense of humor.
As for present-day relations, Carter said both countries should cooperate to address global challenges like climate change and the financial crisis.
"In the past 30 years, there were sometimes difficulties, but most of the time there was harmony," he said. "I hope in the future we can see mutual respect and a growing partnership between our two countries."
"I have no doubt that the next 30 years will bring you more significant beneficial changes than the last 30 years. And I believe 300 years from now, you will still book back upon what happened on January 1, 1979, with gratitude."
Carter said President-elect Barack Obama told him to express his best wishes to the people of China and extend to Chinese leaders his commitment that he will work in harmony with China and improve the relationship between the two countries.
In his roundtable discussion with Chinese scholars, Carter said he firmly believes China and the US share many common cultural values.
"We're all committed to better lives for our people," he said. "We've all committed to the proposition that all people are equal and should be treated equally. We're all concerned about the growing difference in the quality of life between very rich people in our countries and very poor people. We want to narrow the gap so that everyone has a better life...''
The photo exhibition will run until the end of the month at the Shanghai Library.
Carter came to China last Sunday to take part in events marking the diplomatic anniversary.
He arrived in Shanghai on Thursday and flew back to the US yesterday afternoon.
(Shanghai Daily January 17, 2009)