Monday, September 14, 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Lauds Strength of U.S.-China Relationship

Two countries can "chart a brighter course" for the world, Clinton says

By Bridget Hunter

Washington - Citing "a new era in China-U.S. relations," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, to Washington September 10.

The secretary, speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce dinner honoring Wu, underscored the importance of the U.S.-China relationship not just bilaterally but globally.

"The relationship between our two countries has the potential to chart a brighter course, not just for our own nations and peoples, but indeed for the entire world," Clinton said. "We are two of the world's three largest economies, two of the world's largest populations, two of the world's largest militaries, the world's largest consumers of energy and producers of carbon emissions. For these reasons and so many more, our respective priorities and policies have a global impact, and therefore we have a responsibility to ourselves and others to work as effectively as we can to meet the threats and seize the opportunities of the 21st century." (See transcript)

The secretary was joined at the dinner by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, an American of Chinese descent and former governor of Washington state. (See "President Obama Nominates Chinese American to Commerce Post")


In her speech, Clinton highlighted several areas of U.S.-China collaboration.

The Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the first round of which was held in Washington in July, marked the largest gathering yet of top officials from both nations. "We had very productive exchanges on issues ranging from the global economic crisis to climate change to poverty and disease to the security threats that confront us. And already, we are seeing the results of those meetings," Clinton said. (See "U.S., China Share Goals at Strategic and Economic Dialogue")

On climate change, both nations are working together on clean-energy initiatives, scientific research, development of "green" jobs, and laying the groundwork for a productive U.N. climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. The secretary cited a bilateral memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment. (See fact sheet)

Both nations are committed to enhancing peace and security in Northeast Asia, particularly through mitigating the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program, the secretary said, adding, "Our envoy to North Korea, Steven Bosworth, just returned from China, where he met with Chinese leaders to work on increasing stability in Northeast Asia by resuming the Six-Party Talks and implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874." (See "United States Weighing North Korean Offer of Bilateral Talks")

Clinton also cited ongoing work to address the global threats of pandemic disease (particularly the H1N1 virus), poverty and terrorism.

But an effective partnership must go beyond governments, the secretary said, because "there is a limit to what governments can accomplish on their own." She called for partnerships "that stretch across sectors, that engage the full range of talent in our countries - from the expertise of our scholars and scientists to the creative energy of our young people and the adventurous spirit of our entrepreneurs."

The business community will be especially important as both nations seek to strengthen their economic ties and speed up the global economic recovery. Clinton pointed to the upcoming Shanghai Expo as an opportunity to "showcase American innovation and culture to the more than 70 million visitors that China expects to welcome." (See "United States Breaks Ground on Pavilion for Shanghai World Expo")

"In any endeavor that holds promise for the future," the secretary concluded, "we should think about the children whom we love ... and ask ourselves: Are we making the decisions that will give each of them a better future, a more peaceful, prosperous, secure world, a world where our children can breathe the air and drink the water, where they can pursue their own futures if they are well educated and healthy, where they have a chance to really make the most of their own lives?

"That is what is at the core of our relationship between China and the United States - a hope and a commitment to that kind of future."