The US-China Relationship

July 28, 2009by

How will the US-China relationship impact the rest of the world? In recent remarks President Obama indicated while the relationship is crucial to the 21st century world, it may depend in part on China’s ability to encourage its people to spend more, allow them to speak more freely, and work with others on preventing violence in the world.

President Obama said Monday that the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century.

Obama, opening a two-day summit between the two countries, said the U.S.-China relationship is as “important as any bilateral relationship in the world.”

“That reality must underpin our partnership,” Obama said.

While he said both countries must work together to end the global recession, he also pressed China to move toward a more consumption-driven economy.

“The current crisis has made it clear that the choices made within our borders reverberate across the global economy, and this is true not just of New York and Seattle, but Shanghai and Shenzhen as well,” Obama said.

He added that a more sustainable economic foundation will come from Americans saving more and Chinese spending more.

“Because just as China has benefited from substantial investment and profitable exports, China can also be an enormous market for American goods,” Obama said.

The president’s remarks kicked off the latest round of high-level discussions between leaders of two of the world’s largest economies. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton head the U.S. delegation, while China’s team is headed by Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

Qishan and Geithner both touted the country’s efforts to spur an economic recovery.

“Thanks to the policy measures adopted by the U.S. government, the U.S. financial markets are already stabilizing and its new economy is showing signs of dawning,” Qishan said Monday.

Geithner praised China for working with the United States “in blunting the force of the economic recession and beginning to restore confidence.”

But Geithner also said that China’s move away from an export-based economy to one based on consumption would be a “huge contribution” to a more stable and balanced world economy.

The talks will have an increased emphasis on the countries’ strategic ties. The discussions, regularly held twice a year, had been known as “Strategic Economic Dialogue,” but the title was changed this year to the “Strategic and Economic Dialogue.” Another new aspect is the inclusion of the secretary of State. During the Bush administration, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was the top U.S. official in the meetings.

Obama said Monday the two countries share mutual interests and must work together to stem climate change, stop nuclear weapon proliferation and confront extremists and other non-state threats.

“All of these issues are rooted in the fact that no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its own, nor effectively advance its interests in isolation,” he said. “It is this fundamental truth that compels us to cooperate.”

While Obama sought to find common ground on most issues, he also raised U.S. concerns with China on its human-rights record.

He said that the countries could begin a new push to end suffering in Darfur and the war in Sudan, which has economic ties with China.

Obama also urged China to allow free speech by its minorities.

“Just as we respect China’s ancient culture and remarkable achievements, we also strongly believe that the religion and culture of all peoples must be respected and protected, and that all people should be free to speak their minds,” Obama said. “That includes ethnic and religious minorities in China, as surely as it includes minorities within the United States.”

(via The Hill)