[These are President Carter’s remarks from a press conference on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in response to questions posed by Chinese new organizations.]
Xinhua: Since the founding of China in 1949, the U.S. and China have had a very complicated relationship. This relationship changed significantly after 1979 when you and Deng Xiaoping normalized the relationship between China and the U.S. Many suggest this is the most important bilateral relationship as well as the most difficult one in the world. President Xi Jinping talks about a new model of great power relationship. What do you think is this new model?
President Carter: Well I have met with president Xi Jinping now four times, more than any another American. I met with President Li Keqiang as well, and when I have been to China, almost every year since we normalized relations, the incumbent leaders have always made sure that I would meet with future leaders before they became anointed as president and as premier. So I was very pleased with the opportunity for me and my wife to meet with Xi jinping three times in private sessions where we could talk about the future, and he spelled out to me, in those four meetings, his ideas of what the new relationship should be–not trying to interfere with the previous leaders, but also just what his own personal ideas were, and I was very pleased at what he had to say. I do not know what he and President Obama decided, I was not there, and I haven’t had a full report on it, but I think that what Xi Jinping was saying, in his first and only meeting with President Obama, was he was telling Obama we want to make sure that the relationship that was established more than thirty years ago continues in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual understanding, and a search for common commitments, and an understanding of the differences that exist between our two countries, and acceptance of those differences. China has an ancient history, ours is fairly new. China is a different part of the world from the United States, China has different interests in other countries that what we have. China is an emerging political and economic nation, the United States is established. So we have many differences, but what I think Xi Jinping was telling Obama is, let’s understand these differences and build on them to create a stronger and more mutually respectful and better understanding between our two countries. Don’t let the differences come between us, let the differences be understood, and use them as the foundation for building a better future.