President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, Excellencies. Thank you for inviting me to join you today with some reflections on China-U.S. relations, all the way from Timor-Leste, a small island of over 1 million people in Southeast Asia, soon to be a full member of ASEAN. We are already participating in all ASEAN meetings of heads of state and government. I thank ASEAN leaders for supporting us, welcoming us as one of them. Talking about the U.S. and China relationship for everyone was important through history, the European Union-China, the U.S.-China, the rest of Asia-China, for different reasons, going back to the upheavals of the 50s and 60s and 70s. China today is a global power, an economic and financial power. Needless to emphasize, that we all know. The important thing is, how can a rising China be an economic, financial superpower that helps maintain stability of the dollar, and helps maintain the stability of the U.S. economy and the economies of many other countries? But China also needs the U.S., needs Europe, needs the prosperity of all of us to continue to prosper, and to live peacefully. This is the new world of today, the new China.
I would advise my American friends... I have a great relationship with the U.S. I know the U.S. Congress inside and out. I lobbied the U.S. Congress forever, since I was in my early 20s. Still now, I have great admiration for the U.S. Congress, the US administration, politics, history, culture... but I cannot agree with its blind spot on China, just because China is no longer poor. China is a competitor. We might say, if someone in the USA... it is a rival. Yes, be the rival. But not a threat, or not an intentional threat. Maybe China is a threat to U.S. economic financial dominance. Yes, of course. China is financing U.S. debt, financing U.S. deficits.
So I would advise my friends in the U.S. to be extra cautious in dealing with Taiwan. China must be one of the most tolerant countries in the world, whereby a territory that belongs to them, and only because of a history of colonialism, of civil wars, occupations, that they lost control of that island, Taiwan. They have [PRC] normalized relations with the United States in the rest of the world. The U.S. continues to fuel massive amounts of weapons to Taiwan. It's almost like an external power would intervene in some of the crises over the world, with massive injection of weapons to one side. Of course, the Chinese profoundly resent that and it causes enormous friction.
And when President of the United States, Donald Trump, imposed a tariff war, totally irrational, on China, and then blamed China for everything related to the COVID pandemic, showing little sympathy for China… And in spite of all the Chinese face… of humiliation, of criticism, they continue their engagement with the rest of the world. China is present throughout Africa, is present in my country, present in all of Latin America and Europe, contributing to the well being of millions of our people. We don't see China as a threat. And we don't see the United States as a threat. China never invaded any country. The U.S. did for many different reasons, I will not enter into that. I just would hope that, please for the sake of our region, Asia, for the sake of the world, the U.S. and China normalize relations, engage in patient dialogue, set up mechanisms of regular consultation, to dissipate rumors and misinformation... And the two countries cooperate to fight diseases in the world, to end poverty in the world, to address challenges in education, in youth unemployment, in partnership, obviously with reorganizations with the UN system... This is what we want to see in the U.S. and China. This is what world leaders are supposed to do. This is what global powers are supposed to do—show responsibility, lesson tensions that negatively impact all of us. We do not wish to change, to choose sides in something that we consider as irrational. Choose between the U.S. and China? We Timor-Leste are a democracy. One of the best in the world, according to the economies and the Freedom House. We are rated number ten in the world in press freedom. But we don't judge China or any other country that does not follow or adhere to what we believe in about multiparty democracy. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me this time to share some concern on politics in our region, on security, peace, challenges and in our region, on the relationship between the two superpowers, China and the U.S. God bless you all.