Liu, Kerry meet in DC

Updated: 2013-11-22 10:59

By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington (China Daily USA)

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China and the United States vowed to continue expanding their people-to-people exchanges in a bid to build a new model of major-country relationship, a consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama in an informal summit in Sunnylands, California, in early June.

Liu, Kerry meet in DC

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong meets with Vice-President Joe Biden in Washington on Wednesday, before meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Zhang Jun / Xinhua

Visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday renewed a Memorandum of Understanding on China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) on behalf of their respective governments.

The CPE was launched in 2010 by Liu and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shortly after Obama's trip to China in November 2009.

The ceremony at the State Department came after the CPE working groups reviewed progress over the past year and discussed future cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science and technology, sports and women's issues, according to a joint press release.

The working groups produced 75 joint outcomes for future cooperation. The two governments agreed to continue their collaboration under the "Youth and Innovation" theme into 2014.

Both Xi and Obama sent letters to show their support for the people-to-people exchange.

In his letter, Xi said that building a new model of major country relationship that features no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation calls for active support and broad participation of the peoples and various sectors in both nations.

"Over the years, people-to-people exchange has played a positive role in enhancing China-US relations and has become an important pillar for the growth of relations between our two countries," Xi said in the letter, read by Liu.

In the past more than three years, China and the US have made more than 100 major achievements in the fields of education, science and technology, culture, sports, youth and women's issues.

The 100,000 Strong Initiative announced by Obama in late 2009 to send 100,000 American students to China has helped some 68,000 Americans go to study abroad in China. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has also provided scholarships to some 10,000 Chinese students to purse PhD programs in the US while inviting more than 10,000 Americans to China for visits or studies.

The China-US Cultural Forum and the China-US High-Level Women Leaders' Dialogue have become stars in bilateral people-to-people exchanges. Traditional Chinese sports such as martial arts and health qigong have also started to win more Americans. The two countries have also cooperated in preventing breast cancer and the promotion of clean cooking stoves.

"It is fair to say that China-US people-to-people exchange now enjoys a strong foundation, greater substance, wider areas, more diverse participation and growing influence," Liu said.

She said people-to-people exchange will play an indispensable strategic role in building the new type of major-country relationship.

The vice premier proposed that the two sides need to seek common ground and put aside differences and learn from each other's civilizations. And she also called for more efforts to build trust and reduce suspicions and to further expand the horizon of people-to-people exchange.

Kerry also quoted Obama in his letter to the 4th CPE. "The Chinese and American peoples want a strong, cooperative relationship. And it is in our interest to work together to meet global challenges that we face," Kerry quoted Obama as saying.

Kerry, who took office in February, said that thanks to the CPE, American and Chinese citizens are learning from one another every single day.

"And astronomy students are coming together to discover new challenges and developments in both Western and Chinese space exploration. Playwrights are connecting virtually in order to stage theater performances, and live-stream them to cities in China and the United States simultaneously," he said.

"As President Obama put it in his letter, the world is looking to the United States and China to work together to solve pressing challenges. And there is great potential for athletic, cultural and scientific exchanges to help solve problems for the benefit of all," Kerry said.

He said by improving and expanding the ties between the people of the two countries, the CPE is providing critical gateways to important solutions.

"The president and I and our counterparts in China know that enabling people in countries to come together in pursuit of those goals will lead not only to greater understanding, but eventually to an even stronger partnership between our two countries," he said.

"And together, if we continue to do this, this relationship will become one of the great relationships of all time, and a game-changer for the planet," said Kerry.

Liu, the highest Chinese official visiting the US since the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, arrived in the US on Sunday.

In Chicago, the first leg of the trip, Liu visited a children's hospital, attended a forum on education and met local officials. In Washington on Wednesday, Liu met with Vice-President Joe Biden, who will visit China in early December. She also went to Capitol Hill to meet members of the Congressional Black Caucus. China is providing more scholarships to African-American students to study in China.

On Wednesday afternoon, Liu went to the US Department of Health and Human Services to witness the signing of an MOU on medical and public health cooperation by DHH Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Li Bin, China's Minister of Health and Family Planning Commission.

Liu will attend a number of events, including a cultural forum, in New York on Friday before flying to Ethiopia for a visit.

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