We have long said we want a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, and that view has not changed. A constructive relationship means that we are honest and candid not only about our shared interests, but also about the issues that divide us. We need not just endless reaffirmations of our respective interests, but concrete outcomes that truly benefit our peoples.
From a U.S. perspective, we have made too little progress. For years, the Chinese leadership has urged us to focus on areas of cooperation while setting aside our differences, and for years, the United States had agreed to that approach in the expectation that, over time, we would address our concerns as well. But the Chinese leadership has exploited this approach. Often it has insisted we sweep differences under the table as a prerequisite for engagement. Sometimes it made promises to address our concerns yet failed to follow up. As a result, our relationship has delivered fewer and fewer of the results that matter to the American people.
At the same time, the relationship became increasingly imbalanced. An example is unequal access for U.S. companies, journalists, diplomats, and even civil society. As an open society, the United States has welcomed Chinese companies into our markets to sell products to American consumers, to invest and bid on projects, and to raise capital. We have welcomed Chinese students and researchers into our universities and laboratories, where they have acquired knowledge to modernize and develop China’s economy. While U.S. journalists face restrictions on reporting and even entering China, Chinese state media workers have long enjoyed open access in the United States. PRC diplomats have open access to American society, while our diplomats in China are required to navigate a state approval system for even the most basic engagements with the Chinese people.