Despite the severe challenges facing China-U.S. relations today, China's consul general in San Francisco remains upbeat about future bilateral exchanges and healthy commerce between the two nations.
At a media briefing on Monday, Consul General Zhang Jianmin shared his observations about "how I feel about my job over the past year". In a nutshell, he said the "friendship between the two peoples enjoys a solid foundation; cooperation between two countries serves mutual interests, (and the) bilateral relationship faces severe challenges".
"We must work together for a better future," he said.
There is encouraging progress in trade and some other fields, said Zhang, citing the $760 billion trade volume last year between China and the United States, and the "all-time high of $38.16 billion" worth of American agricultural products exported to China.
Since China relaxed its COVID-related policies in March, Zhang said visa officers at the consulate "have barely had any weekend without working extra hours" in order to meet "strong demand for visas from U.S. companies to visit their clients in China".
For both sides, trade helps generate more jobs and improve people's well-being, said Zhang, adding that a U.S.-China Business Council report concluded that U.S. exports to China support 1 million American jobs.
And vice versa.
In 2022, approximately 710,000 electric vehicles rolled off the assembly line of Tesla's Gigafactory in Shanghai, which constitutes more than half of Tesla's global delivery. The electric-vehicle maker is projected to expand its operation in China in order to raise its annual output to 1 million vehicles.
In November, San Francisco will host the APEC Informal Leaders Meeting. China attaches great importance to economic cooperation in the region, said Zhang.
"China stands ready to make its contribution to the building of the Asia-Pacific community with a shared future," he said.
Zhang has spoken to elected officials, academics and businesspeople during his visits around the consular district, which includes Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Nevada.
"The overwhelming majority of the people we have met support friendly relations between our two peoples. They want the China-U.S. relationship to get better," said Zhang. "All these have given me a lot of confidence and strength. And there is much in common between our two peoples."
As for certain U.S. politicians' hostility toward China and portrayal of it as the "United States' greatest strategic competitor and its most consequential geopolitical challenge", Zhang said "their extremist fixation on a China threat have blinded themselves to (the) real China and deprived them of the pragmatism that has served our relationship so well in the past decades".
As a result, both sides suffer, and so does the rest of the world, said Zhang. He pointed out that among the numerous challenges, "one of the worst arises from the U.S. failure to honor commitments on the question of Taiwan".
"There is no greater internal affairs than to uphold one's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.
To bring the China-U.S. relationship back to the "healthy and stable track", Zhang said "action is needed".
As China pursues a Chinese path to modernization, it "will present the world with more opportunities for common progress. And of course, a healthy and stable China-U.S. relationship will be much desired and serve everyone's interest," he concluded.