Zhou Wenzhong was appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for the People's Republic of China to the United States in 2005.
He is a native of Jiangsu Province. After studying in England, he joined the Department of Translation and Interpretation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1975.
The Honorable Zhou Wenzhong at Cleveland's City Club
He served as attaché and third secretary in the Chinese embassy in Washington, then returned to the Department of Translation and Interpretation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rising to serve as its division chief. In 1987, he was named consul general for China's consulate in San Francisco and was appointed ambassador to Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda in 1990.
Zhou returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993 as deputy director of the Department of American Affairs. He then served as consul general in Los Angeles in 1994 and as minister-counselor of the Chinese embassy in 1995.
Zhou served as ambassador to Australia from 1998 to 2001, then returned as assistant minister in charge of American and Latin American affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Wenzhong spoke about the increasing dependence of China and the US in a globalized economy. He said, "Any economic problem in one country not only affects the other country but also the world economy."
China's economy is growing at about 11% which Wenzhong said offered opportunities for the rest of the world including the US. China's "most important task", according to Wenzhong is macroeconomic efforts to insure and control rapid economic growth.
Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong address a question from the audience
They plan on "reigning in" fast growth by balancing consumption and investment and balancing domestic and external demands.
Wenzhong stated that China is America's 2nd largest trading partner and the US is the biggest source of investment in China. He spoke of the "interdependent, mutually beneficial, win-win" relationship between the two economies.
Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong and attorney Margaret Wong
When asked about China taking away American jobs he responded that US unemployment rate is the lowest in history and that while some manufacturing jobs are gone, new service jobs have been created. This demonstrates the "International Division of Labor." He also said that even China is finding lower labor rates in other countries now and hopes that the US "always moves up" by "inventing and producing newer, better products."
He spoke against the fact that the US Congress has introduced 50 bills regarding trade with China. "Such bills are of great concern to China. Trade protectionism or politicizing should never be an option." and added, "China takes US trade concerns very seriously."
He praised Ohio as the first state to have a sister relationship with a Chinese province - back in 1979. China is now Ohio's 4th largest trade partner and over 1,000 Chinese students attend Ohio State University.
He also announced, to applause, the designation of Cleveland State University as a Confucius Institute which gets CSU grants funds for Chinese language and other courseware.
Zhou Wenzhong and Cleveland Council of World Affairs President & CEO Mark Santo at a press briefing after the City Club speech.
When asked about the Tibet situation, Ambassador Wenzhong said that in 1959 Tibet was a slave economy of 1 million people. Now the slavery has been abolished and over 2.5 million live there. He said there are more monks by proportion in Tibet than clergy in the US.
As part of their program for a "harmonious society", Wenzhong spoke of striking a "good balance between interests of the collective - the state - and the interests of the individual."
When asked about the quality of air for the athletes at the Olympic Games in Beijing, Zhou said it was "being addressed" and that the "air quality is getting better" and they will "take measures to improve it especially during the Olympics."
Slovenian Consul Dr. Zvone Zigon and Immigration Attorney Margaret W. Wong after Zhou's speech
When I asked the Ambassador what people would learn about China from the Olympics he responded that they will learn that China is "a country that loves peace, progress and development for everyone." He said that the Olympics is a sporting event and not a political occasion for people to express their political views."