Remarks at the Opening Session of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)—May 9, 2011. Remarks attributed to Secretary of State Clinton, Treasury Secretary Geithner, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Quishan and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. We are delighted to welcome you here to the Department of the Interior, a department that deals with the beautiful landscape and nature of our country along with the national parks that have been established. It’s a very historic building, which is appropriate for the third round of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. And it is such an honor to host Vice Premier Wang, State Councilor Dai, and the entire Chinese delegation on behalf of Secretary Geithner and myself. I am very pleased that we are joined by so many officials and experts from throughout both the United States Government and the Government of China, and we are delighted that we will shortly be joined by Vice President Biden, and I know President Obama is looking forward to meeting with the leadership of our two governmental teams later today.

The Strategic and Economic Dialogue is the premier forum in a bilateral relationship that is as important and complex as any in the world. Since we first gathered in Washington back in 2009, the depth and breadth of our discussions and the participation across our two governments have grown significantly.

Through these meetings and the conversations that take place within them, both the informal conversations like the ones we had last night over dinner at the Blair House and the formal meetings, we seek to build a stronger foundation of mutual trust and respect. This is an opportunity for each of us to form habits of cooperation that will help us work together more effectively to meet our shared regional and global challenges and also to weather disagreements when they arise. It is a chance to expand the areas where we cooperate and to narrow the areas where we diverge, while both of us holding firm to our values and interests.

Now more than ever, with two years of Dialogues behind us, success depends on our ability to translate good words into concrete actions on the issues that matter most to our people. So as we begin this third round, we will keep that goal in clear focus.

Our work really begins with our commitment to better understanding one another, to building trust between each other, and to working to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation. We all know that fears and misperceptions linger on both sides of the Pacific. I will be very open about that. Some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States. Some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China’s growth. We reject both those views. We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. The fact is that a thriving America is good for China and a thriving China is good for America. But to work together, we need to be able to understand each other’s intentions and interests. And we must demystify long-term plans and aspirations.

That is why, for example, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and I have spoken often about the importance of developing more sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency and familiarity. So I am very pleased that for the first time, senior military officials from both sides will participate in this Dialogue. They will join civilian counterparts to discuss how we can reduce the dangerous risks of misunderstanding and miscalculation. In particular, I would like to thank Deputy Chief of the PLA General Ma for being with us for these important discussions.

We are also working to build greater understanding and trust between our citizens and to foster stronger ties between our students, our businesses, and our communities, expanding on the consultations that were held here in Washington last month. That includes the 100,000 Strong program. This is a program to boost educational exchanges and to create new links between entrepreneurs and investors. I’m looking forward to lunching with business leaders from both of our countries. We’re also emphasizing programs to connect women leaders and a new initiative to bring together state and provincial officials. And of course, we want to continue our strong people-to-people diplomacy. Building mutual trust and respect will help us to solve shared problems. We both have a great stake in curbing climate change and charting a clean and secure energy future. We both care about promoting responsible and sustainable development around the world, and we both are committed to stopping the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons.

China and the United States face a wide range of common regional and global challenges. How our two countries work together to meet those challenges will help define the trajectory, not only of our relationship going forward, but the future peace, prosperity, and progress of the world. Whether it’s the global financial crisis, or the upheaval in the Middle East, recent history has underscored the link between our economies and global security and stability. And that intersection is at the heart of our dialogue. So we will be discussing the need to work together to rebalance the global economy and assure strong, sustained future growth.

There are some very important international security issues we will be discussing. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States and China came together to enact tough sanctions on Iran, and now we are working to implement them. Our two countries share a vital interest in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and that includes the complete denuclearization of the peninsula. So we continue to urge North Korea to take concrete actions to improve relations with South Korea and to refrain from further provocations, and we want to see North Korea take irreversible steps to fulfill its international obligations toward denuclearization.

Now, like any two great nations – in fact, I would argue like any two people – we have our differences. And like friends, we discuss those differences honestly and forthrightly. We will be continuing the discussion of the recent U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue just held in Beijing. We have made very clear, publicly and privately, our concern about human rights. We worry about the impact on our domestic politics and on the politics and the stability in China and the region. We see reports of people, including public interest lawyers, writers, artists, and others, who are detained or disappeared. And we know over the long arch of history that societies that work toward respecting human rights are going to be more prosperous, stable, and successful. That has certainly been proven time and time again, but most particularly in the last months.

So this dialogue offers us a forum to have these candid discussions while continuing to focus on where we are going to cooperate effectively. As my friend State Councilor Dai knows, I am fond of finding Chinese sayings and proverbs, and I used one that has, for me, been the real inspiration for our participation back in 2009, that China and the United States are like people in the same boat, and we have to row in the same direction to get anywhere. Well, there’s also wise Chinese expression that says, “When confronted by mountains, one finds a way through. When blocked by a river, one finds a way to bridge to the other side.” Well, we are here to keep building those bridges, and we are not doing this alone. We are part of a web of institutions and relationships across the Asia Pacific and the world.

The United States is practicing what we call forward deployed diplomacy. We’re expanding our presence in people, programs, and high-level engagement. We’ve renewed our bonds with our allies. We broaden our involvement with multilateral institutions. And the first time ever this year, President Obama will participate in the East Asia Summit. So we have a lot of work ahead of us, both bilaterally and regionally and globally, and we have a lot to cover in a short time.

So again, I am delighted to welcome all of you here to express my confidence in this relationship and in the importance of this dialogue. And it is now my great honor to invite Vice Premier Wang to address you.

Vice Premier. (Applause.)

VICE PREMIER WANG: (Via interpreter) Secretary Clinton, Secretary Geithner, dear colleagues, we are gathered here today for the third round of China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogues. On behalf of the Chinese delegation, I would like to express sincere thanks to the U.S. side for the (inaudible) arrangements. President Hu Jintao attaches great importance to the S&EDs. He asked me and State Councilor Dai Bingguo to convey his greetings to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Clinton, Secretary Geithner, and all those who work for the S&EDs on the U.S. side.

President Hu Jintao highly appreciates the important role of the S&EDs in deepening understanding; enhancing strategic, mutual trust; and strengthening communication and cooperation between our two countries at bilateral, regional, and global levels. He hopes that both the Chinese and U.S. sides will make the most of this round of dialogues to have in-depth exchange of views on ways to further enhance strategic, mutual trust, and deepen practical cooperation. He looks forward to the implementation of the agreement he reached with President Obama and the advancement of the U.S. – of the China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Dear colleagues, last January, President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to the United States. It was a historic visit which achieved great success. With vision and foresight, the two presidents opened a new page in China-U.S. relations. Over the past 32 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the United States, China-U.S. relations have kept moving forward despite twists and turns. Our two countries differ in history, culture, development stage, resources, endowment, and national circumstances, but we are highly interdependent and mutually complementary economically.

China and the United States are each other’s second largest trading partner. The United States is China’s second largest export market. And China is the fastest growing export market for the United States. Together, China and the United States account for one third of the world’s GDP and one fifth of global trade. China-U.S. relationship has far exceeded the bilateral scope and has acquired growing global significance. We are witnessing profound and complex changes in the world economic landscape, changes that are driven by globalization. At present, we still face many uncertainties while we are striving to tackle global economic recession and sustain economic recovery. Against such a backdrop, economic and social development in China and the United States face both common challenges and opportunities of cooperation.

Now, there are both complementarities and clashes in our respective policies geared to ensure economic recovery. However, we have far more shared interests and cooperation than differences and competition. Both sides must, therefore, make better use of the S&EDs as an overarching framework for the examination of long-term and strategic issues, and take forward steps to advance the sound development of China-U.S. economic relations.

Dear colleagues, the past and the present have proven, and the future will prove, that nothing can hold back the trend of China-U.S. cooperation. We have confidence in that. Our confidence comes from the broad, common interests between our two countries, the shared aspirations of our two peoples, as well as from historical and philosophical reflections. One action is better than 1,000 words. Let us use that opportunity brought by the current round of the S&EDs to earnestly implement the important agreement reached between our two presidents, and deepen our cooperation in economic, trade, investment, financial infrastructure, and other fields in an all-around way. By so doing, we will contribute to the strong, sustainable and balanced growth of not only our two economies, but also the world economy. I wish the third round of the S&EDs great success.

Thank you. Now, I would like to invite Secretary Geithner to address you. (Applause.)

SECRETARY GEITHNER: I want to start by joining Secretary Clinton and my U.S. colleagues in welcoming the Chinese delegation. Vice Premier Wang and Councilor Dai, it’s good to see you again in Washington.

When the Strategic and Economic Dialogue first met in Washington two years ago, President Obama said the United States and China share mutual interests; if we advance those interests through cooperation, our people will benefit and the world will be better off because our ability to partner with each other is a prerequisite for progress on many of the most pressing global challenges.

Now we have worked carefully and deliberately since then to demonstrate that basic truth, and our economies are stronger today because of the commitment of President Obama and President Hu to deepen our economic relationship even as we each confront significant economic challenges at home. I want to compliment Vice Premier Wang for his leadership in this joint effort. He is a tough and forceful defender of China’s interests. He focuses on the practical and the achievable. And he recognizes that China’s economic success depends on a growing world economy and a strong relationship with the United States.

When President Obama and President Hu launched the Strategic and Economic in London of April – in April of 2009, the world economy was in the grip of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today, thanks in no small part to the actions of the United States and China, we have put out the worst of the financial fires and the world economy is growing again. And because of the success of the cooperative strategy we launched together with the G-20, world trade is now expanding rapidly, companies around the world are investing in hiring, and fears of deflation have receded.

But of course, we still face very significant though very different economic challenges at home. In the United States, even after a year and a half of positive economic growth and more than 2 million private sector jobs created, unemployment is still very high and we still have a lot of work to do here in repairing the damage caused by our crisis. Our challenge in the United States is to strengthen the foundations for future economic growth, and this requires a sustained effort to improve education, to strengthen incentives for innovation and investment, even as we put in place the long-term fiscal reforms that will force us once again to live within our means as a nation.

In China, building on the remarkable reforms of the last 30 years, the challenge is to lay a foundation for a new growth model driven more by domestic demand with a flexible exchange rate that moves in response to market forces with a more open, market-based economy and a more developed and diversified financial system.

The reforms we must both pursue to meet these very different challenges are not in conflict, and the strengths of our economies are still largely complementary. And we each recognize that our ability to work together is important to the overall health and stability of the global economy.

As President Obama said, no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its own nor effectively advance its interests in isolation. There’s a Chinese saying that reflects this same vision. In Chinese, it reads – (in Chinese). In English, roughly, for share fortunes together, meet challenges together. We are making progress and I am confident we will continue to do so.

Thank you. Councilor Dai. (Applause.)

STATE COUNCILOR DAI: Thank you. (Via interpreter) Dear friends, just now I heard from my colleagues said all that I have to say, so I would be brief.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is a great pleasure for me to join you at the third round of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogues here in Washington. We meet at a unique point in the history of China-U.S. relations, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Ping Pong Diplomacy and of Dr. Kissinger’s secret visit to China. Forty years ago, the desire of the Chinese and American people for friendly interactions, together with the decisiveness and the courage of our political leaders, produced an unstoppable force of history. It pushed open the door of engagement between our two countries that had remained shut for over 20 years. Since then, no force in the world has ever had the power to close that door again.

Today, as we review the past and look ahead to a better future of China-U.S. relations, we cannot but pay high tribute to those icebreakers, pioneers, and the builders of China-U.S. relations. More importantly, we shall learn from their foresight and the pioneering spirit because we have to bring China-U.S. relations forward.

The China-U.S. relationship, too, is at an extremely important point in history. President Hu Jintao and President Obama met in Washington this past January, a time when we have just entered the second decade of the 21st century. Together, the two presidents decided to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, charting a clear course for the future of China-U.S. relations. History will show that the decision they made is a historic one that accords with the tide of history and serves the benefit of the people of China, the United States, and the world.

Admittedly, it is no easy task to make this major decision a living reality and turn commitment into real actions, as we may face all sorts of difficulties, obstacles, and interference on the way ahead. I’m confident, however, that so long as both sides grasp the right trend of the world and of China-U.S. relations in the 21st century, stick to the directions set by our presidents with resolution, and never waver in our determination to overcome whatever difficulty is coming our way, we will blaze a new path of major country relations featuring mutual to respect, harmonious coexistence, and a win-win cooperation so that our people and our future generations will live in the sunshine of lasting peace, friendship, and cooperation.

I’m standing here addressing you as a 70-year-old man. I may not look that old. Actually, I’ve turned 70, an age when I should have gone home and enjoyed the company of my children and my grandchildren. Why then am I still flying across the Pacific and sitting in round after round of candid and heart-to-heart dialogues with my American partners? I’m doing this to implement the consensus of our presidents for the achievement of one lofty goal – to make our two countries and the peoples forever good friends and good partners, and to enable our children and children’s children to live in peace and happiness. Could we ever let them down? The answer is no, a definite no. If we do, we would be failing our duty and that would be unforgiveable.

Dear friends, the people of China and the United States live in the same global village – you on the West side, we on the East. I welcome more American friends to visit China, to see and feel for yourselves the friendship of the Chinese people and the importance of China-U.S. relations. You may also learn firsthand the enormous progress China has made in various fronts, including in human rights, and get to know what is a real China.

To conclude, I wish this round of dialogues full success. Thank you. (Applause.)