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Zhou Wenzhong
August 3, 2020

Zhou Wenzhong

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U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast

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In the years before the official establishment of U.S.-China relations in 1979, Zhou Wenzhong joined the Chinese Foreign Ministry to serve his country as an elite member of the diplomatic corps.

This Shanghai native has been through the ups and downs of political events between Washington and Beijing, from Deng Xiaoping's breakthrough visit to the United States in the late 1970s through the collision of a U.S. surveillance plane with a Chinese military jet off the coast of Hainan Island in 2001. From his beginnings as an interpreter for the Chinese ambassador to becoming ambassador to the United States himself in 2005, and later vice minister of foreign affairs, Ambassador Zhou offers an insider's view of how the Chinese government has dealt with the United States over the past four decades -- from the Cold War to today’s increased bilateral friction.

James Green:    Welcome to the U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast from Georgetown University. This podcast series explores diplomacy and dialogue between China and the United States during the four decades since normalization of relations in 1979. We'll hear from former ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, and White House advisors -- who will share how they shaped the course of the most complex relationship in international diplomacy today.
James Green:    I'm your host, James Green.
James Green:    Today on the podcast, we talk with Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong.
James Green:    When the official plaque went up for the first time on the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC on January 1, 1979, Zhou Wenzhong was a young interpreter and assistant to the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. A month after the inauguration of the new Chinese embassy, Zhou and his colleagues were busy handling the most important visit of a Chinese leader to the U.S. since the founding of the People's Republic on Oct 1, 1949. On that remarkable trip -- in '79 -- paramount leader Deng Xiaoping visited President Carter in the White House. Here's Carter telling his guest, Vice Premier Deng, about serving in the U.S. Navy in the Chinese port city of Qingdao as the Chinese civil war was ending with a Communist victory:
President Carter:    When I was in Tsingdao [Qingdao] in 1949, in April, the Chinese forces here surrounding the city, and the vice premier said he was in charge of those forces.
James Green:    The Deng visit was, for Zhou, the beginning of a successful career in the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Zhou spent the better part of three decades involved in and shaping the government-to-government interaction across the Pacific, including later as Chinese Ambassador in Washington and as Vice Minister in Beijing in charge of relations with the U.S. After retiring from the Foreign Ministry, Zhou continued to advance Chinese foreign policy goals by running the Boao Forum for Asia -- China's answer to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
James Green:    But we start with Amb Zhou's unusual opportunity to study overseas in the mid- 1970s, during the height of the Cultural Revolution, when most places of learning in China were still shuttered.
James Green:    Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, thank you so much for coming. So great to see you.
Zhou Wenzhong:    My pleasure.
James Green:    I just wanted to start, before getting to your time in the Foreign Ministry and, in United States as ambassador, how you got interested in the United States in the first place, and a little bit about your personal background and academic career, and then entering Foreign Ministry. Could you talk a little bit about that, where you're from?
Zhou Wenzhong:    I actually was a graduate of the Beijing Foreign Trade Institute. But then of course, I was sent to England to study for two years. So after I came back I was, recruited by foreign ministry. And then, so that's how I started, to be a Chinese diplomat.
James Green:    So at that time and what year, sorry, were you studying in England?
Zhou Wenzhong:    I started, '73 to '75.
James Green:    Wow. So in the middle of the Cultural Revolution-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes, yes.
James Green:    ... you went to England.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Right, right.
James Green:    And then were you required to then do government service as a kind of a fenpei, as a kind of work after getting your degree or your studies in England? Or was it your choice to decide what you wanted to do?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Oh, actually, I, before I was selected, to be, a student to go to England, I worked for the Diplomatic Service Bureau in Beijing.
James Green:    I see.
Zhou Wenzhong:    So I was actually, worked as, interpreter at the Sri Lanka Embassy.
James Green:    At the Sri Lankan Embassy?
Zhou Wenzhong:    In China.
James Green:    Wow. And you were an English interpreter, is that right?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Right, right.
James Green:    I see. Wow. And where are you from originally?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Orginally, I'm from Shanghai.
James Green:    thank you. Wonderful. So then you came back, you entered their Foreign Ministry-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes.
James Green:    ... and I wanted to start by your first tour in the United States, which I think was in the late '70s, early 1980s. Is that correct?
Zhou Wenzhong:     actually I started working at the Chinese embassy, in, in Washington D.C., working for the ambassador at that time at Cai Zhengming.
James Green:    Yeah. So I was going to ask, that was your first trip to the United States? You had studied in England?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes, yes.
James Green:    And then your first job was to be the kind of personal secretary or assistant to the Ambassador?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Assistant to the Ambassador.
James Green:    So that's in the Chinese-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Actually, a translator.
James Green:    ... A translator, I see.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah, yeah.
James Green:    So, was there another person who was also the assistant or you were the assistant and the translator both?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Both.
James Green:    I see. So a pretty, a pretty big job. And so, what do you remember? It was right around the time of Normalization in 1979. What was your recollection of that time of working in, what I think was, must have been the old Chinese Embassy, which I know is still your property.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Right, that's right.
James Green:    What, what, what do you remember about that time and your interaction with the State Department or US officials from the late 1970s?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Before the Normalization of course, China was represented there by the office. We have an office in Washington and you have an office-
James Green:    A liaison office.
Zhou Wenzhong:    ... liaison office in Beijing, so they say liaison office. But, on the other hand, the staff of the liaison office were entitled to the treatment for diplomats.
James Green:    Good point. Which means diplomatic protections of people who were there.
James Green:    And so on January 1st, 1979, what did the Chinese Liaison Office and then the Chinese Embassy do to commemorate that, or was there any changing of plaques or of your physical...
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah, there was a, there was a changing of plaques, yeah.
James Green:    And did you guys have a ceremony for that, or just one day ....?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah, there was a brief ceremony, yes.
James Green:    And then you were there during, President Reagan's election. That is the election between Carter and Reagan. As a foreign diplomat posted there, you were serving the ambassador. What do you recall as the job of the embassy during a US presidential election? As for that time, that first time that a, US, sorry, a Chinese Embassy was operating in the middle of a US election. What do you recall that the embassy was reporting back about what was happening in the US election cycle?
Zhou Wenzhong:    You know, it's what, we tried to do was to help people in United States to have a better understanding of China.
Zhou Wenzhong:    And of course, to work, to resolve problems, and, sort of, that were there to be resolved. And, I think this is a, not easy job. It's a big challenge for you and for us, because, for one thing, you know, the relationship was not a very friendly one. A very hostile one actually.
Zhou Wenzhong:    And, so the perception of China for a long time was an enemy or a communist country. So I think our job is to help people to perceive China in a correct way, in a way that is mutually beneficial and true to, to the, to reality.
James Green:    And so for that early time then in the 70s and early 1980s, I assume your ambassador traveled around different parts of the US to get that message out? Is that true?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes.
James Green:    So he didn't only stay in Washington. Do you have any recollection of any specific trip that you went on that you thought, Oh, you went to Iowa or to Alabama or someplace and you thought, "Oh, that's kind of an interesting place." Do you have any recollection of those, of any trips outside of Washington D.C. that stick in your mind from that time?
Zhou Wenzhong:    I actually wrote memories, wrote a memoir, recollecting, you know, those, years, working as the ambassador's assistant and then working as the Minister of the Embassy and then me, myself, working as the ambassador. So, we tried to reach out as much as we can. So we traveled a lot. The ambassador, I mean the, first ambassador Cai Zhengming, traveled very extensively. So I've traveled with him, I mean to, to many, many different places. And, we found actually at a level, grassroots level, people were friendly. They wanted to, have a good relationship, but they're, they do not understand China very well.
James Green:    So, there was a critical part of the job was just explaining China to the American public and to the American press?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes.
James Green:    I wonder on the, telling people in Beijing about what was happening in Washington, again with this election that was a change in administration, from the Democrat Jimmy Carter to the Republican Ronald Reagan, did you feel that you had to explain American politics to your colleagues back here in Beijing?
Zhou Wenzhong:    I think, you know, your embassy and our embassy are doing the same thing, you know, to help, the government and people, you know, in your country or in our country to have a, a right to perception of what's happening. And, we, avoid as much as we can to take sides, because that's domestic politics and, so particularly in years of a general election. So it's a very sensitive issue. So our job is to, report back. So it was all about what is going on, and it was all about.
James Green:    You came to the US at a time when, after 1978, '79, Deng Xiaoping was launching kind of reform and opening. So Chinese foreign and domestic policies were changing. As a Chinese diplomat, how did that kind of change your role, did you feel like on the ground in United States?
Zhou Wenzhong:    China and United States are not the same you know, now. If you compare, what we sort of, are confronted with now, with the things that we were confronted with then, the world has changed a lot. But, there have been things which will not changed. So I think, what we need is a mutually beneficial cooperation, and that is the only right option for you and for, for the United States. And, neither country has taken advantage of the other, because, you know, I think I want to make this point because there are people in the United States who were saying that China took advantage of the United States, and I think that's not true.
Zhou Wenzhong:    And, opening up an integration represents the right direction in our relationship, and neither China nor the United States can move ahead without the other. So I think this is very, very sort of, important. And, and a conflict and a confrontation, will lead nowhere, and neither country can move the other in the, sort of, one's own image. So this is also very important. and yeah.
James Green:    Talking on that, I wonder, I mean, I guess I should, for our younger listeners who might not have been around in the Cold War, could you just talk a little bit about the, Sino-Soviet split and then the reconciliation between China and Soviet union and how US-China relations fit into the Cold War at that time? From the United States' point of view, we had a longtime struggle with the Soviet Union and, and that that ended when the Berlin Wall came down. But trying to play an important role in that kind of a triangle, as a diplomat on the ground in Washington in the late 70s and early 1980s, the Cold War was, I don't want to say on everyone's mind, but it was a very important fact of foreign policy.
James Green:    How -- you had mentioned in your remarks just now, the need for understanding on the other side. How did you feel that your job as a diplomat or, or your ambassador's job, Amb Cai, was changed or influenced by being, in the middle of a Cold War at the time that our two countries were normalizing relations?
Zhou Wenzhong:    You know, Cold War ended, and that's a very important historical accomplishment. Because no one could benefit from the confrontation. And the world is moving in the direction of multi-polar, in a multi-polar direction. And, you know, the former Soviet Union, sort of was, was, trying to develop a hegemony and, China could not tolerate that. So that's why China and the Soviet Union, I mean the relationship, broke up. Yeah. But, now of course that Russia is no longer what the former Soviet Union used to be, yeah. So it's a multipolar world and the relations between China and Russia are getting better and better.
Zhou Wenzhong:    So, so we hope, you know, people will understand, you know, what we have as a multipolar world, and what the we need is a peaceful and a stable work situation. But that will not be easy. Yes.
James Green:    It's an interesting historical context. Thank you for that, ambassador Zhou. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that change over in the Chinese view from the Cold War, which was such a defining part of foreign policy for both of our countries in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s and '90s, until this view of multi-polarity. You've been around for a very long time through a lot of that. How did, how did you think the Chinese position changed from the Cold War being the defining moment of international relations, to how the Chinese government sees things now, which is multi-polarity as the main, kind of, definition of where foreign relations are? Can you talk just a little bit about how that switch, I don't want to say happened, but that thinking from the Cold War being the defining characteristic of international relations to where we are today, which is the Chinese view that their multi-polarity is the driving force of explaining how countries interact with each other.
Zhou Wenzhong:    The Cold War, actually, was a war between the two camps. At that time, the world was divided into two camps, ideologically, in ideological terms. But, this, was no longer, is no longer the case. And, so the former Soviet Union eventually broke up, because of it's overreach. Yeah. It, overreached itself. But I think that the United States should not follow the suit, because what, you know, the administration should realize that the world is getting more and more multi-polarized. And, what we need this cooperation, consultation. There are problems, but our problems can only be resolved through peaceful, consultation and, negotiations. No one should try to, order others about, yeah.
James Green:    On the issue of cooperation, one of the main things that our two countries were working on in the 1990s, and I would like to move forward to your time as the Minister Counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Washington in the mid and late 1990s, one of the things our two countries were working on was non-proliferation and stemming the flow of technology that could help weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. I'd worked for a short time for Jeff Bader when he was at The White House in the Clinton administration, both when Jiang Zemin came to Washington, and when president Clinton came here on his 10 day trip. Could you just talk a little bit, from your point of view, as the person at the Embassy dealing with the United States, what you recall about non-proliferation as an issue between our two countries and then on your work on setting up these high level visits and why they were important from the Chinese point of view.
Zhou Wenzhong:    I was the Minister of the Embassy at the time. I think the, the perception of China, sort of, evolved, gradually. Or rather, changed from administration to administration. depending on your policy toward China, and depending on the public opinions, yeah, about China. China was perceived as a, as a, as a, ally. Or then, perceived as a friend or partner, or then perceived by, the Obama, Obama administration as a rival as well as a partner.
Zhou Wenzhong:    And now China is being perceived as a rival, a hundred percent rival, yeah. All across the, the horizon. So this is a very, worrisome develop-change. Yeah. And, I hope, China will be, will be perceived as rightly, and China, actually, our leader, has made it very clear.
Zhou Wenzhong:    China doesn't want to challenge anyone. China, you know, does not want to replace anyone, yeah. And, so we have this, I think we, what we need to, try to, you know, help you to, to, to make it right is, you know, we should develop mutual trust.
James Green:    As the foreign ministry was really the, the pointy end of the spear in establishing diplomatic relations as it should be. And on our side, the State Department and The White House. as our bilateral relationship has grown, there are lots of different agencies involved and we had a range of different dialogues to kind of do that. I guess I would just ask, as someone who's been in the system, maybe moving into your time as Vice Minister here in Beijing, you know, Foreign Affairs handling United States, how did you find working with all of the different agencies on the Chinese side?
James Green:    I will say as someone on the US side who's worked in the White House, in the State Department and the US Trade Representative Office, are -- consolidating our position was not always easy and working with our Chinese counterparts. Sometimes our internal negotiations were more difficult than our negotiations with the Chinese side. But I wonder from your point of view, as someone who worked in the foreign ministry, which was the lead on all of these things, and then working all the way through to being Vice Minister, and there were a lot of different agencies involved, how did you see that job, say when you were Vice Minister of coordinating the Chinese government's side and interacting with the United States?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah, yeah. It used to be three joint committees between China and United States. And you know, there was a lead agency for each of the three joint committees. So, so that's a very good, sort of, structure for, for quite some time. But unfortunately they stopped working. So that's a problem. What we have, you know, now in our relationship, and of course, very soon they will sign the first phase of agreement on 15th. And the two teams, you know, on our side, led by Vice Premier, Liu He, and on your side, by the, the White House advisor Kudlow. And then of course, the - Lighthizer.
Zhou Wenzhong:    But the structure is still not very clear. So there are other things. So who, what kind of, structure we should have, you know, to, to, to, to fill, fill the, in the, you know, the sort of the space left by the three joint committees? Yeah.
James Green:    Could you talk -- thank you for bringing that up. One of the reasons I wanted to do this project was to not forget what these commissions were like and how to, work out a bilateral relationship across a range of different issues. Could you just mention one of the committed committees that you had noted and who was the lead on the Chinese side and how you saw that, that progress?
Zhou Wenzhong:    So there was, there was a commerce committee, Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade, and the foreign, the, the Ministry of Commerce, was the - used to be the lead agency. And there was another one that is a Culture and Science Joint Committee. And, so the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology, they played a very important role. A leading role, yeah. But, they were no longer there. Well, that's a, that's a very worrisome problem.
James Green:    Right?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:    Well, one of the hopes, as I said with this project is, we'll, by talking to Americans and Chinese, we'll have some historical memory about how we used to do this.
Zhou Wenzhong:    I think they, some people, advocating decoupling.
Zhou Wenzhong:    So I don't know whether this is part of the decoupling. I hope the administration, the President, will not accept the suggestions by those who were advocating decoupling.
James Green:    And what this, this is a word that's only entered the US usage for the last maybe year and a half. What do you see as what decoupling means?
Zhou Wenzhong:    I don't know, because it has not been defined, what do they mean by decoupling, yeah.
James Green:    And what's the word that the Chinese side uses for decoupling?
Zhou Wenzhong:    tuogou.
James Green:    Touguo. To pull off, I guess?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Huh? Cut off.
James Green:    Yeah, cut off. Yeah. On one of the kind of most fractious times in our relationship, you were in the middle of it all. I spoke to our ambassador here at the time when I was here. Joe Prueher, who was an Admiral during the EP-3 incident in which our two planes collided over Hainan Island. I believe you were the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:     a challenging time that uh-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes.
James Green:    ... that both sides managed without conflict.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:    Could you just talk about your recollection of that and, from the Chinese point of view, what you were trying to accomplish in avoiding conflict or avoiding escalation?
Zhou Wenzhong:    This is a very unfortunate incident and, United States, you know, we want you to apologize, and, they didn't want to use the word, to apologize. And they argued that that was too formal. And, so what they could do was to say, sorry. And then we insisted that, you should also say sorry to the Chinese people, not just to the members of, members of the family of the different- of the pilot. You should say sorry to Chinese people and also to his comrades in arms. Yeah.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Eventually they accepted. And, also they, said very, very, very sorry. Yeah. It's not -- because both sides realized, you know, it's a problem which needs to be resolved. Otherwise, the relations, will, will, will not to be able to move ahead. Yeah.
James Green:    At that time, the Bush administration had only been in office a couple of months. It was April, 2001. So they'd been in power for about three months.
James Green:    Was it frustrating from the Chinese point of view that it didn't seem like there was anyone in charge, or is that not what you remember?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Because we were watching, because, after he took off his, he, the President, once phrased China as a strategic economic rival. So we were watching what does that mean? And what he was about to do. Well, of course, they came this, an, sort of incident. But the incident was resolved, in a way, with not a very, ... we accepted because we wanted a relationship to continue. But, it's not very satisfactory as far as we are concerned because, you know, they did not apologize formally, yeah.
James Green:    And just for background, the two planes collided, the American plane landed on Hainan Island and the Chinese plane and pilot were lost. And so the apology that you're talking about is the damage to the plane and also the loss of life for the Chinese pilot-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).
James Green:    ... who was killed. A couple of months after that, the 9/11 attacks happened-and that kind of changed the Bush administration's foreign policy away-as you had said from this potentially hardening view of trying to, to focusing on the global war on terror, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
James Green:    I was working at, here at the embassy and then in Washington, both at the White House and the State Department during that time. How do you think, 9/11 changed US-China relations or how does, how is it viewed here in Beijing? how this, this global incident changed bilateral relations?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah. Terrorism is a common enemy for all countries, and we support the US in its efforts, anti-terrorist efforts. And, so at that time that was the number one priority, yeah, for you and for us. And China was affected too, yeah. In terms of terrorism, yeah.
James Green:    That kind of changed all parts of US foreign policy that we're still, still adjusting to this day. I wonder, and I know we're short on time, I wonder if I could just move to your time as ambassador to United States.
James Green:    You served as ambassador to Australia and then to United States. As ambassador to China, you had access to generally speaking, a Deputy Secretary of State, is that right? Or the secretary of state, depending on the issue, if the issue was kind of urgent in terms of who you were allowed to see on the US side, is that right?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).
James Green:    How did you see your job different in say, Australia versus United States or how, how did you had been with US so many times and you knew that the United States really well. How did you see the main thing that you were supposed to be doing or your main task as ambassador during that time, which was the end of the Bush administration, beginning of the Obama administration, is that correct?
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes, I think, the job is to make sure that there will be a smooth transition. You know, of course some of that there was US domestic politics. So we are very clear about it. But, we also-
James Green:    By clear, you're meaning not interfering in US domestic politics?
Zhou Wenzhong:    I mean, China was, they, they, they, they are perception of China are not quite the same.
James Green:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:    The two administrations.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, the change here came partly from the domestic politics partly from the -- what they see China, their perception of China, yeah. So our job is to make sure that, their perception is would be acceptable, at least-
James Green:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Zhou Wenzhong:    ... by, by, by, by China and workable also, in sort of, in terms of, day to day running of the relationship, uh.
James Green:    One of the aspects that I recall and I was working in policy planning at the time-at the state department was the maintenance and expansion in some ways of the strategic economic dialogue to the strategic and economic dialogue that is including on the US side-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah, yeah, yeah
James Green:    ... the Department of Treasury-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah, yeah, yeah.
James Green:    ... and the Department of State.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:    And on the Chinese side-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:    combating in the foreign ministry.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Right.
James Green:     I, I don't think I'd be betraying any secrets to say that was challenging on the US side-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:    ... as two ministries tried to work together. on the Chinese side, my perception was there was a welcoming of expanding, the discussion and the number of agencies involved.
James Green:    But maybe you could just talk a little bit about how at the beginning of the Obama administration, you saw the strategic and economic dialogue and kind of what, what the Chinese side saw as the benefit of that.
Zhou Wenzhong:    And the background is that the three joint committees stopped functioning. And I think maybe one reason is that, the three joint committees were committees at the level of ministries and the level of your departments.
Zhou Wenzhong:    And, so it's difficult for one ministry to try to negotiate things with other ministries and also the same thing is true of your side. It would difficult for one, one department to try to negotiate with other departments. Then, Zoellick [Paulson] came up with this idea, that is to set up a Strategic Economic and Trade Commission, which would be led by him and on our side by one of the Vice Premiers, at the level of State Council. So it's a more authoritative, you know, structure.
Zhou Wenzhong:    And so it's easier for the, Strategic Economic and Trade Committee to try to talk to one another, more authoritatively. And to, you know, after the meeting, then they will try to have things done by departments involved under the leadership of the presiding, Vice Premier and on your side by, by Zoellick [Paulson].
Zhou Wenzhong:    Because he has the trust. I'll, I'll be President.
James Green:    And on the Chinese side, the importance of the State Council as opposed to a minister is, is what, why is that important on the Chinese side?
Zhou Wenzhong:    State Council is at the top. And the different ministries need to report to the State Council. So there of course they need to take, take orders.
James Green:    And so being able to tell more than one ministry what to do is just critically important as a way to work on issues that expanded beyond one, one ministry.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah. And ministers are all members of that of the-
James Green:    Of the State Council.
Zhou Wenzhong:    ... yeah, yeah. I mean also members, some, some of the ministry of the selected the way they took part in the strategic, Joint Strategic and Economic Committee meeting.
James Green:     I just wanted to conclude - ambassador, you've been very generous with your time. you were the Secretary General of the Boao Forum for-
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yes, eight years.
James Green:    For eight years, for a very long time.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Yeah.
James Green:    I just wonder if you could talk a little bit about maybe China's role in the world and how you saw that job as a continuation of your foreign ministry career.
Zhou Wenzhong:    Boao Forum is a non, governmental organization. so, next year they will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of that, organization. And, now it has a board of 19 members. The current chairman of the board is the former Secretary General of United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, yeah. And, the purpose of that, forum is to, the members are all, commercial entities.
Zhou Wenzhong:    They are different, you know, from different countries, mostly from Asia. And it will, it was attended every year by some 2000 members -- some 2000, sort of, different, people from the, from, from the, economic commercial, you know front. So the, their leader, would be invited. The Chinese leaders would be invited to, the annual opening ceremony and deliver a speech. And then, the Chinese government would invite a number of foreign leaders to attend the opening ceremony. So when I was there for the eight years, so we had the pleasure and honor to have the President and the Premier to open the, our for for quite a few times, yeah.
James Green:    Well, Ambassador Zhou, thank you so much for your time; congratulations on an incredible career. I really appreciate your time today.
Zhou Wenzhong:    My pleasure. Wish you a great success.
James Green:     Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong -- speaking with me from Beijing. You’ve been listening to the U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast from Georgetown University. I’m your host, James Green.