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Secretary of State Clinton Delivers Remarks at U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

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Monday, July 27, 2009; 11:46 AM

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Good morning and (speaking in Chinese).

I'm so pleased to see all of you here, so many members of our Cabinet. We are excited to begin this strategic and economic dialogue between the United States and China.

It is a privilege to open this inaugural meeting.

I'm especially pleased that Secretary Geithner and I have been able to welcome State Councilor Dai and Vice Premier Wang.

(APPLAUSE)

We are looking forward to resuming the very fruitful discussions that we've already had, both Secretary Geithner and myself, and particularly President Obama and President Hu Jintao.

This is both a culmination and a beginning.

It is a culmination of actions taken by our predecessors 30 years ago, when the United States and China established formal diplomatic relations.

What followed was a blossoming of Chinese economic growth and diplomatic engagement that has allowed our nations to reach this place of opportunity today.

But this dialogue also marks the beginning of an unprecedented effort to lay the foundation for a positive, cooperative and comprehensive U.S.-Chinese relationship in the 21st century.

That so many members of President Obama's Cabinet are here reflects our belief that a stronger relationship will yield rewards not only for our two nations but indeed for the world beyond.

We believe that, in the decades ahead, great countries will be defined less by their power to dominate or divide than by their capacity to solve problems.

It is this reality, that no country can solve today's challenges alone, that demands a new global architecture for progress.

Although past relations between the United States and China have been influenced by the idea of a balance of power among great nations, the fresh thinking of the 21st century moves us from a multi-polar world to a multi-partner world.

CLINTON: And it is our hope that this dialogue we initiate today will enable us to shape a common agenda.

We know that our nations face common global threats -- from the economic crisis to nonproliferation, climate change, clean energy, pandemic disease, global poverty, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond.

So to meet these threats, we must find common ground and work together in common purpose even as we may disagree on certain issues.

As we'll hear later from the president, the Obama administration is committed to broader engagement, using robust diplomacy and development, working with and beyond governments to solve regional and global problems.

When I was in China, in February, it was my first time back in almost a decade, and I was struck, as many visitors are, by the transformation that had taken place.

Driving on the Third Ring Road in Beijing, I felt like I was watching a movie in fast forward. From a few high-rise buildings on my last trip to a gleaming Olympic complex and corporate skyscrapers today. From millions of Flying Pigeon bicycles navigating the streets to cars of every model traversing modern thoroughfares. And for those traveling to Shanghai, an already cosmopolitan world city, soon to add the Shanghai Expo.

All are testaments to China's dynamism and growth, and the United States welcomes. We welcome China's role in promoting peace and stability in the Asian Pacific. Over the past 30 years, the United States has helped to foster security in the region, and that has been a critical factor in China's growth and an important strategic interest of our own.

In the future, we will remain actively engaged in promoting the security of Asia. When misunderstandings or disagreements arise we will work through them peacefully and through interactive dialogue.

This strategic and economic dialogue differs from past dialogues in scope, substance and approach. It is comprehensive by design, meant to enlist the full range of talents within our government and to include cross-cutting challenges that are neither bureaucratically neat, nor easily compartmentalized.

With this dialogue we are laying brick by brick the foundation of a stronger relationship, improving lines of communication, increasing understanding, setting priorities and creating a work plan.

CLINTON: Our agenda will focus on several areas.

First, as Secretary Geithner and Vice Premier Wang will certainly demonstrate, the economic recovery that is critical to both of us. This is a priority. We've taken aggressive action; so has the Chinese government.

Second, climate change and clean energy. As the world's two biggest emitters, we have to demonstrate to the developed and developing world alike that clean energy and economic growth go hand- in-hand.

We already have promising partnerships.

When I was in Beijing, I toured a geothermal plant that is a true U.S.-Chinese collaboration. General Electric has provided the high- tech equipment to produce heat and power with half the emission and far less water usage than the coal plants that are typically relied on. And Chinese businesses built the steam turbines that help to power the plant. And this plant saves costs and provides clean energy, including heat for the United States Embassy.

Third, security challenges. I just attended the ASEAN conference in Thailand where the North Korean regime's recent provocations were a subject of great concern. China and the United States both appreciate the dangers of escalating tensions and a prospective arms race in East Asia, and we both are going to work against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Already, we have cooperated very closely together. And we are grateful to the Chinese government and their leadership in establishing the six-party talks and its close cooperation with us in response to the North Korean missile launches.

We will also discuss our common concerns about the nuclear weapons capability of Iran and explore ways to address violent extremism and promote stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Fourth, we will talk about development, because we think, like diplomacy, it is an equally important pillar of American foreign policy.

We know that many of the world's threats emanate from poverty, social erosion and political instability and in turn contribute to them. So by addressing hunger, illiteracy, disease, economic marginalization from the bottom up, insisting on accountability and adherence to the rule of law, we believe we can widen opportunity and prosperity for more people in more places.

CLINTON: Now, none of these problems, even with our closer cooperation, will be easy to solve and results will not happen overnight. And we will not always see eye-to-eye. That is the case in certain instances concerning human rights, where the United States continues to be guided by the ideal of religious and other freedoms that must be respected.

Still, solutions to many of the global challenges today are within reach if we work together, where our interests intersect. And where we cannot, we will be honest with each other.

A well-known Chinese saying speaks of a sacred mountain in northern China, near Confucius' home. And it says, "When people are of one mind and heart, they can move Mount Tai."

And we cannot expect to be united on every issue at every turn, but we can be of one mind and heart on the need to find this common ground as we build a common and better future.

The Obama administration has embraced this dialogue with China early and energetically because we want to see it bring fruit. This is an issue of great importance to me as secretary of state. And I look forward to the discussions today and tomorrow and to the follow- up work that we will do together.

It is now my great honor to introduce Vice Premier Wang.

(APPLAUSE)

END


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