Good evening everyone!
Thank you to the China National Tourism Administration for hosting tonight’s event.
It’s great to be here with my friends Secretary Pritzker, Vice Premier Wang, Chairman Li, Ambassador Cui, and Executive Director Craighead.
I also want to thank everyone for joining us tonight to celebrate the thing that perhaps brings our two countries and people together more than anything else — tourism!
According to a Chinese saying, reading 10,000 books is not as good as walking 10,000 miles. You need to get out and experience life directly.
It will open your eyes and help you realize that we’re all in this together. And over the past year, that’s just what people from our countries have been doing.
I tell everyone I meet how much I love serving as the United States Ambassador to China. I’ve been in Beijing for almost three years, and one of my greatest joys has been getting out and meeting as many people as I can.
When I first met with President Xi to present my credentials, I told him I planned to visit every province in China. And I did!
From Urumqi to Shanghai, from Lhasa to Xi’an, from Kunming to Lanzhou, I’ve experienced the full diversity of China. I’ve met students who are going to be future government leaders; I’ve met World War II veterans who fought shoulder to shoulder with the American Flying Tigers; I’ve met scientists and entrepreneurs who are going to help lead the next clean energy revolution.
My travels in China have filled me with hope. And they’ve helped underscore something I’ve felt all along — that people basically want the same thing.
We want a good job and to make ends meet. We want a good education for our kids. And we want a clean environment to live in and clean air to breath.
I believe the relationship between the United States and China is the most important in the world. And getting this relationship right is going to go a long way towards helping our people achieve these shared dreams.
Tourism and people-to-people exchanges are the best ways to build a great relationship.
As we close the Tourism Year, I encourage American and Chinese people to continue to visit one another’s countries, explore the majestic landscapes, learn about the cultures, and – most importantly – make personal connections. By doing so, you will help create a better world.