Saturday, April 4, 2009

United States, China Agree to Enhanced Strategic, Economic Talks

The United States and China have agreed to actively seek improvements in U.S.-China relations and address global issues of common interest, President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao say.

The two presidents met and discussed enhanced relations on the sidelines of the G20 Financial Summit in London April 1.

In a joint statement issued by the White House after their meeting, the presidents said they "agreed to work together to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive U.S.-China relationship for the 21st century and to maintain and strengthen exchanges at all levels." Hu invited Obama to visit China later in 2009, an invitation Obama accepted.

The two countries also agreed to update the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue created in 2006. Under the new arrangement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton - who is in London with the president - and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo will lead the strategic track of the Dialogue, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan will direct the economic track of the Dialogue, representing their presidents, the White House said.

The two groups will begin meeting in Washington later this summer. In addition, the two countries will continue to advance cooperation on economic issues and foreign trade through the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. The United States and China also agreed to resume a dialogue on human rights as soon as possible.

WORKING TOWARD SECURITY, STABILITY

The United States and China have agreed to work together for the settlement of conflicts and a reduction of tensions that have contributed to global and regional instability. Specifically, Obama and Hu agreed to continue to work through the Six-Party Talks - which include Russia, North Korea, South Korea and Japan - to end the threat of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

Negotiations in the Six-Party process have been directed at getting North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons development program through a series of incentives that include recognition by the United States and a final peace agreement to formally end the Korean War. The United States already has removed North Korea from its State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

But North Korean officials announced it will launch a long-range rocket April 4-8 to carry a satellite into space, though allies believe it is simply a test of an advanced Taepodong-2 three-stage missile. That type of missile has a potential striking range of more than 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers), which effectively puts it in the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii, Australia and Eastern Europe.

A missile launch by North Korea would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution that forbids North Korea from further nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches.

China and the United States have agreed to share a commitment to military-to-military relations and work for improvement. U.S. Admiral Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, will visit China in April to attend events marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese navy, which is part of the People's Liberation Army.

The visit comes at a critical time, after a U.S. Navy ship and five Chinese ships had a confrontation in March about 75 miles (121 kilometers) off Hainan Island, south of the Chinese mainland in the South China Sea. One of the Chinese ships came within approximately 25 feet (7.5 meters) of the American ship, according to the Pentagon.

Obama and Hu also agreed to work closely on the Iranian nuclear weapons development program, Sudan humanitarian issues, and the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

DEEPER ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Obama and Hu called for deeper cooperation "to intensify coordination and cooperation on global economic and financial issues." They pledged to work closely in addressing challenges that confront the global economy and financial system, including stricter regulatory and supervisory standards.

"The presidents agreed on the need for sweeping changes in the governance structure of international financial institutions," the White House statement said.

"Such changes were needed so that these organizations better reflect the growing weight of dynamic emerging market economies in the global system," Obama said.

Both presidents said fiscal stimulus measures each have taken to jump-start their economies are also playing a stabilizing role for the global economy.

Obama said that once the economic recovery is established, "the United States will act to cut the U.S. fiscal deficit in half and bring the deficit down to a level that is sustainable."