S&ED talks hit harmonious note

Updated: 2013-07-11 11:36

By Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily)

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S&ED talks hit harmonious note

US Secretary of State John Kerry listens as China's Vice-Premier Wang Yang delivers his opening remarks at the 5th annual China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington on Wednesday. Sun Chenbei / China Daily

The Dean Acheson Auditorium at the State Department in Washington was packed on Wednesday morning with senior Chinese and US officials as the two governments began round five of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).

US Vice-President Joe Biden kicked-off the opening session by expressing his condolences over the two Chinese students killed in the crash landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 last Saturday at the San Francisco International Airport.

Biden then described the S&ED as "essential" to bilateral relations, saying the two countries needed to build more trust between their peoples and governments.

"We don't have to agree on everything, but you have to trust," he said.

Biden said the bilateral relationship will continue to be a mix of competition and cooperation.

"Competition can be good for both of us and cooperation is essential," said Biden, who first visited China in 1986 as a young Senator.

Biden was followed by remarks from the four co-chairs - Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew - all of whom stressed the importance of expanding cooperation and managing differences.

Wang said the summit between President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama a month ago reached important consensus and pointed a clear direction for the two countries to build a new type of major country relationship.

"This round of dialogue is to turn the important consensus reached by the two heads of state into concrete achievements and to inject solid content into building the new type of major country relationship," said Wang, whose last trip to the US was 10 years ago.

The vice-premier said China is willing to discuss and listen to different voices and accept the correct ones, adding that many of the dialogues China has had with the US and other countries have benefitted the country's progress.

But he said that China will not accept those dialogues that intend to shake the country's fundamental system and harm its national interest.

State Councilor Yang said he hoped to further increase mutual understanding with the US. "At this round of S&ED, we hope to expand and deepen practical cooperation with the US side," he said.

Addressing issues of wide concern in the US, Yang, an ambassador to the US 10 years ago, said China will stay committed to reform and opening up, stick to the path of peaceful development and be a responsible player contributing to the building of the international system.

He expressed his satisfaction at the third Strategic Security Dialogue held on Tuesday, as well as the work done by the climate change working group and the cyber working group, both of which are new features to this year's dialogue.

Kerry, whose wife, Teresa, had taken ill on Sunday, was emotional in thanking people for their concerns over his wife's health.

He said while the S&ED is about cooperation on shared interest, it is also about addressing differences, speaking candidly about them, and trying to find ways to manage them.

"We will never agree on everything and we will have candid conversation on those issues where we don't see eye-to-eye, because that is absolutely the best way to constructively manage our differences and increase understanding," said Kerry, expressing his concern that there is a lack of understanding in China about the US' rebalancing to Asia strategy, which many Chinese see as a containment policy.

Danny Russel, who was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday as assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was among many senior US officials in the audience in the opening session. They also include about a dozen cabinet level officials from each side and military leaders such as Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the Headquarters of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, and Samuel Locklear III, commander of the Pacific Command.

The four co-chairs attended two small-scale talks Wednesday on climate change and energy security, in which the two countries announced five new initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution.

"There is renewed momentum between the US and China on climate change. Bilateral efforts between these two countries are essential, and this collaboration can inject additional vigor in tackling climate change around the world," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program of World Resources Institute.

A wide range of issues was discussed Wednesday afternoon on the strategic and economic tracks, which will continue on Thursday.

In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, US administration officials described the first-day talks as "candid" and "on a cooperative tone".

Officials also noted the sense of humor and easy, confident style of Vice-Premier Wang.


(China Daily USA 07/11/2013 page1)