China, US have unique role to play for world peace: Locke

Updated: 2012-10-30 11:34

By Zhang Yuwei in New York (China Daily)

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China, US have unique role to play for world peace: Locke

A factory of Sany Heavy Industry Co Ltd, a high-profile Chinese investor in the US, on the outskirts of Shanghai. US Ambassador to China Gary Locke said Chinese investors make "important contributions" to the US economy. Darcy Holdorf / Reuters

China and the United States, the two largest economies in the world, have a "unique role to play" in ensuring peace and prosperity in the world, Gary Locke, US ambassador to China, said during a town hall event organized by the National Committee on US-China Relations on Monday.

"We have a shared interest in working together, not just for the good of our own people, but really the entire people of the Asia-Pacific region, and indeed all the people in the world," said Locke.

The event, which took place in Beijing, was webcast live to 60 venues across the US, although several on the East Coast had to be cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy.

Locke, the featured guest at this year's event, is described by Stephen Orlins, moderator and president of the Committee as "a man of many firsts" - the first Chinese-American to serve as ambassador to China, commerce secretary and governor (of Washington state).

Relations with China have been a hot topic in the US presidential race, and on Monday - just eight days before Election Day - Locke's presentation highlighted issues affecting the dynamics between the two economic superpowers, including trade and investment, and intellectual property.

Bringing the town hall event to local audiences, Orlins said, is intended to elevate discourse that, during the presidential campaign, "has lacked depth and nuance".

With the increasing economic interdependence between the two nations, Locke highlighted the vital role Chinese investments have played in the US economy.

"Chinese companies with operations in America are also making important contributions to US output and employment," he said.

"This trend is a very positive development for both China and the US because Chinese companies benefit from gaining access to the world's largest market, to a well-educated labor force and to the most modern management and corporate governance."

At least 37 US states are home to Chinese investment from China in various industries, including auto parts, information technology and services. All contribute to about 30,000 jobs in the country. Chinese investment to the US has reached $6.3 billion so far this year, the New York-based research firm Rhodium Group estimated.

"Foreign investment, including Chinese investment, is vital to our economic growth, job creation and productivity," Locke noted.

"Forty years ago, it would be difficult to imagine the interdependence that characterizes our nations today," he said, referring to 1972 when US President Richard Nixon visited China, an important step to normalizing ties between the two nations.

Locke said the trade between the two nations is more than a $1 billion of goods and services every day, in contrast to the annual bilateral trade of less than $100 million 40 years ago.

Today more than 700,000 American jobs depend on exports to China, he added.

Despite the economic interdependence, the two countries, also have disagreements and conflicts, Locke said, citing recent disputed trade cases brought by the US.

The past four years have seen more cases brought against China by the US to the World Trade Organization than the previous (Bush) administration in eight years, Locke noted.

"We are constantly pressing China to do even more," he said, urging China to create a "level-playing field" for American companies doing business in China.

He called on the two nations to cooperate more, and to be responsible not only for themselves, but for the entire world.

"The world is looking for leadership from the United States and China," he said. "It's my hope that 50 years from now the history books will talk about the great accomplishments we together made, not that we failed to act."