‘Better angels’ still in wings

October 20, 2018

Cui Tiankai, at film screening is hopeful about Sino-US relations

The strained China-US relations need what Abraham Lincoln referred to as the touch “by the better angels of our nature”, and such “better angels” are still there, Beijing’s top envoy to Washington Cui Tiankai said Tuesday evening at the screening of a documentary film.

“Over the past year we have heard enough of trade war threats, assertions about
strategic rivalry, saber-rattling in the South China Sea and even unfounded accusations against Chinese students and scholars,” Ambassador Cui said in Washington.

“It looks as if rivalry and confrontation became the prevailing aspect for our path ahead, and people cannot but again call for the touch of ‘better angels’,” he said.

He said that sometimes people wonder if the angels have just vanished or if they are overshadowed by the dark side of human nature.

However, after seeing Better Angels, the latest documentary on China-US relations, Cui said he believed “the better angels are still there”.

“They are always there, rain or shine,” he said.

The documentary was written and directed by two-time Academy Award winner Malcolm Clarke and produced by William Mundell and Han Yi.

Five years in the making, the 90-minute film features compelling interviews with some of the world’s most celebrated thought leaders in the field of Sino-US relations: former US secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Madeleine Albright and former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd.

It also highlighted stories of ordinary people, like a former US Marine who teaches English and coaches American football in a Chinese school, a Chinese abacus teacher working in the United States, helping American students with arithmetic, and a Chinese entrepreneur who funded the Sino-US Friendship House in Muscatine, Iowa.

“From these ordinary men and women, we know why the China-US relationship is firmly grounded and why we should be confident in its future,” the ambassador said.

In poetic prose, Cui spoke highly of the part that the ordinary and great people of China and the US play in forging ahead the bilateral relations.

“When our relations are smooth sailing, they will be there injecting greater driving force; and when our relations are at a low ebb, it is also our people who will firmly support the bonds of friendship and turn the tide of China-US relations,” he said.

By the same token, over the past four decades, when China-US relations suffered setbacks, risked being strained, with their future cast into doubt, the people of the two countries would be there, “quietly but persistently”, doing their part, lifting it out of the quagmire and moving it forward, Cui said.

“Therefore, there is no reason why we should not stay optimistic and confident,” he said.

“I am convinced that the better angels in the documentary and among our two peoples will always come to guide us to a better path of the China-US relationship and move it forward for the benefit of our peoples and of the entire international community.”

Speaking at the screening event, producer William Mundell said the film is the untold story of the “true potential” of the US-China relationship.

“It’s about the wider benefits of US-China cooperation; it’s about the dark side of globalization for the Chinese people, and it’s about the common humanity that drives us together,” he said.

Contact the writer at huanxinzhao@chinadailyusa.com

China Daily

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