Friday February 21, 2020


April 4, 2013

The new Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, arrived in Washington on April 2. The former ambassador to the US, Zhang Yusui, returned to China on February 24. Cui Tiankai graduated from John Hopkins University. He is the former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and a career diplomat. He will serve as the 10th Chinese ambassador to the United States.

Since arriving in Washington, Ambassador Cui has already met with John Kerry, indicating the importance the new Secretary of State places on the US-China relationship. Cui Tiankai also held a press conference on Wednesday. During this press conference, he emphasized that the US-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, one that both sides have recognized the importance of. He also stated that he is committed to building a mutually beneficial relationship based on mutual respect.

When asked his opinion on the US-China trust, Cui said, “I think there is a growing mutual confidence between China and the United States-because we have worked together on so many issues….maybe the level of confidence is not as high as we would like to see, but it is certainly growing.” He cited North Korea as a key area for potential cooperation and convergence of interests between the US and China.

This press conference did not represent the first public statements Cui Tiankai has made about the US and China. Last year he published an article on the subject (link to full text below). In this article he argues that for the success of China’s overall foreign policy goals, it is important that the US and China create a bilateral relationship that emphasizes “cooperation not confrontation, win-win results not ‘zero-sum’ game, and healthy competition not malicious rivalry, namely, a new-type relationship between major countries.”

He further asserts that, “even the most pessimistic people have to recognize that the two sides have accumulated some strategic common understanding, a profound cooperation foundation and rich experience about how to get along with each other.” In support of this statement he claims that China and the US recognize the importance of cooperation for mutual benefit, have increased their avenues and frequency of communication and exchanges, and understand that the US and China are deeply intertwined.

Cui goes on to outline the problems that need to be addressed in the US-China Relationship. Among the issues cited are differences over core interests, the lack of strategic mutual trust, not being treated as an equal, trade relations, and actions in the Asia-Pacific. Despite the positive tone of the first section of his article, this section seems to place the bulk of the blame for the problems in the US-China relationship on the actions of the United States. Issues such as Taiwan, ‘China blaming’, and the US involvement in the Asia Pacific are criticized at length while the Chinese stances on these issues are defended.

It will be interesting to see if Cui Tiankai’s views on the U.S.-China relationship have changed over the past year. It is also important to note that words do not equal actions. How will these opinions be reflected in his Cui Tiankai’s actions as ambassador?

For more information about Ambassador Cui Tiankai, see the following news articles:

Xinhua– “New Chinese Ambassador arrives in Washington to assume office

Chinese Embassy website– “Ambassador Cui Tiankai Arrives in Washington DC

Chinese Embassy website– “China-US Relations in China’s Overall Diplomacy in the New Era

CCTV– “Cui Tiankai: China and US can work together

Washington Times– “Inside the Ring: New PRC ambassador

For Chinese language news on Ambassador Cui Tiankai, see the articles below:

China Network (中国广播网)– “美国国务卿克里会见中国新任驻美国大使崔天凯

China Daily (中国日报)– “中国驻美国大使崔天凯抵华盛顿履新

Baidu (百度)– “崔天凯

China Net (中国网)– “新任驻美大使崔天凯3日抵美履新 自喻”民意平衡者

Compiled and edited by Ariane Rosen