Toward a Deeper and Broader Relationship With China

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
Remarks With Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi
Beijing, China
February 21, 2009

FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to meet you. First of all, I want to once again welcome Secretary Clinton to China.

Just now, Secretary Clinton and I had an in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relations on a wide range of issues of mutual interest. The talks were constructive, and produced positive results.

Both the Secretary and I stated that we attached great importance to China-U.S. relations, and cherish the sincere desire to actively promote China-U.S. relations. China believes that, at a time when the international situation continues to undergo complex and profound changes, China and the United States, as the world's biggest developing country and biggest developed country, have broad, common interests and important common responsibilities on major issues that concern peace and development of mankind.

We should develop broader and deeper relations between the two countries in the new era. The two countries should work together and build a cooperative relationship of mutual benefit and win-win progress in a wide range of areas with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, at large. Both sides stressed that close dialogues and exchanges at the top and other levels between China and the United States, playing an irreplaceable role in advancing the bilateral relations.

The upcoming meeting between President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama during the G-20 London financial summit in early April will be of great significance. The two sides will make careful preparations for the meeting, and ensure its success.

The two sides believed that China and the United States should continue to strengthen dialogues on strategic, overarching, and long-term issues of mutual interest in a political, diplomatic, and economic fields. The two sides reached agreement, in principle, on the establishment of the China-U.S. strategic and economic dialogues mechanism, and will engage in further consultations to make detailed arrangement for the mechanism.

I have briefed Secretary Clinton on the recent development of the relations across the Taiwan Strait, and stated China's principled position on the Taiwan question. The Chinese side appreciates the fact that the U.S. side has reaffirmed on many occasions its position that it adheres to the One China policy abides by the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, and opposes Taiwan independence and Taiwan's membership in any international organization where statehood is required. China hopes that the United States will properly handle the Taiwan question with caution, and support the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

The two sides discussed the ongoing international financial crisis and agreed that, as the crisis is still unfolding and spreading, China and the United States should enhance coordination on macro- economic, and financial policies, jointly work for positive outcomes at the G-20 London financial summit, and reject trade and investment protectionism.

The two sides agreed that China and the United States should intensify exchanges in cooperation in economy and trade, law enforcement, science, education, culture, health, and other fields, continue to conduct counter-terrorism and non-proliferation consultations, and military-to-military exchanges, and continue to hold human rights dialogues on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

The two sides believed that cooperation in the fields of energy and the environment is playing an increasingly important role in the growth of bilateral relations. China and the United States will enhance such exchanges in cooperation on the basis of the China-U.S. 10-year energy and environment cooperation framework, including exchanges in cooperation in developing and utilizing clean energy, raising energy efficiency, and strengthening environmental protection.

The two sides also agreed to step up communication and consultation on climate change, make joint efforts in the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of key low-carbon technologies, and work with other projects concerned in meeting this global challenge together.

The two sides agreed to make joint efforts and work with other parties concerned for the success of the Copenhagen Conference.

The two sides also exchanged views on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, stability in south Asia, and other issues. The two sides believed that to maintain the Six-Party talks process, and facilitate proper settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, is crucial to the early realization of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and enduring peace and stability in northeast Asia.

The two sides expressed the hope that relevant countries in south Asia will continue to properly manage their differences through dialogue and cooperation, and uphold peace and stability in the region through common efforts.

The two sides maintained that the international nuclear non-proliferation regime should be upheld, and that the international community should make concerted efforts to properly resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations.

All in all, we had a good discussion, and reached broad agreement. I am convinced that, as long as both China and the United States approach this bilateral relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective, enhance dialogue exchange and cooperation, respect and accommodate each other's core interests, China-U.S. relations will make greater progress in the new era, and bring greater benefits to people of the two countries and the whole world. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Yang, for your warm welcome, and for such a productive meeting today.

I am excited to be back here in Beijing in the very guest house that my husband and I stayed in 1998. And I know that this is just the first of many trips to China that I will make, as secretary of state.

The foreign minister and I had a wide-ranging discussion that started from a simple premise: it is essential that the United States and China have a positive, cooperative relationship. Both of us are seeking ways to deepen and broaden that relationship, so we discussed matters of bilateral concern. But we also spent a great deal of time on the array of global problems that China and the United States face together, and that we can work together to solve.

This is not just desirable for our two countries. It is important for the global community, which is counting on China and the United States to collaborate, to pursue security, peace, and prosperity for all.

There is an acute and immediate need for this kind of collaboration in three key areas. First, the global economic crisis that hit us first and hit us deeply, and has also hit China. We have to look inward for solutions, but we must also look to each other to take a leadership role in designing and implementing a coordinated global response to stabilize the world's economy, and begin recovery.

To that end, I have invited the foreign minister to visit Washington during the week of March 9th, to work with us as both our countries prepare for the April G-20 summit in London.

The second key area is clean energy and climate change. The minister and I agreed that, based on the good progress that has already been made, the United States and China will build an important partnership to develop and deploy clean energy technologies designed to speed our transformation to low-carbon economies. These technologies are essential, both to spur sustainable economic growth in our countries, and to contain the increasingly urgent problem of global climate change. Areas for useful cooperation include: renewable energy, the capture and storage of CO2 from coal plants, and energy efficiency in our buildings.

We also agreed that we share a common interest in working to promote a successful agreement that climate change talks be held in Copenhagen in December of 2009. We will hold regular consultations between senior officials in our governments on all elements of this broad collaboration.

Third, we discussed a wide range of security issues. China has already contributed in positive ways, as the chair of the Six-Party talks, and in its participation in international peacekeeping efforts. And our two countries, I am happy to say, will resume mid-level military-to-military discussions later this month.

We also look forward to further improved relations across the Taiwan Strait. And we agreed to work together on the best way forward to combat extremism and promote stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan; to prevent Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons program; to advance the global counter-terrorism mission; and to pursue arms control and disarmament and stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction. On these issues, we share a common interest, and we should look increasingly to act in concert.

The United States and China also need to work together to make progress on other issues of great importance to the international community, such as Burma and Sudan. As we move forward, it will be important to have a clear and comprehensive framework for dialogue.

Mr. Yang and I, therefore, agreed in principle, on the broad structure of a high-level strategic and economic dialogue with two tracks. The strategic track will cover a broad range of political, security, and global issues, and the economic track will cover a broad range of financial and economic issues. Secretary Geithner and I will both be fully engaged in this dialogue, which will take further shape in the weeks to come.

In engaging China on a broad range of challenges, we will have frank discussions on issues where we have disagreements, including human rights, Tibet, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. The promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of our global foreign policy, and something we discussed candidly with the Chinese leadership.

There is no doubt that world events have given us a full and formidable agenda. And as we tackle it, the United States is committed to pursuing a positive, cooperative relationship with China, one that we believe is important for the future peace, progress, and prosperity for both countries and for the world.

Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) With CCTV - I have two questions to Madame Secretary.

In your speech at the Asia Society last week, you said how essential it is for China and the United States to have a positive and cooperative relationship. I wonder if you can further elaborate on the China policy of the Obama administration. And do you think you can tell us who will be the next U.S. ambassador to China?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are committed to a positive, cooperative relationship. We had a very good beginning today in our discussions. I will be seeing the president and the premier and the state councilor later, as well, to discuss in greater detail some of the issues we raised, and some additional ones.

But the Obama administration wants very much to work with China on the range of issues that Minister Yang and I discussed. And Minister Yang and I will have further discussions when he comes to Washington in March. And our presidents will be meeting when they are together in London for the G-20 summit.

And when we have an announcement about our next ambassador, we will certainly make it.

MODERATOR: Next question to Arshad Mohammed of Reuters.

QUESTION: Arshad Mohammed of Reuters. Secretary Clinton, in 1995, here in Beijing you gave a speech which, at the time, was regarded as the strongest criticism of China's human rights record by a visiting foreign dignitary. It made you something of a hero, both to Chinese human rights activists and their families, as well as in the international human rights community.

Yesterday you told us that, while you would raise human rights, it could not be allowed to interfere with other priorities, like the financial crisis, and climate change, and security issues like North Korea.

How do you answer critics who have already responded to yesterday's comments, suggesting that they are a betrayal of the stand that you took in 1995, and that, as a practical matter, they undermine such leverage, as the United States may have with China on human rights?

And, Foreign Minister Yang, what was your response to Secretary Clinton's remarks of yesterday? Do they strike you as perhaps a more pragmatic and mature approach on the part of the United States to human rights in China?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I have said, the promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of U.S. global foreign policy. I have raised the issue on every stop on this trip, and have done so here, in my conversations with the foreign minister. Our candid discussions are part of our approach, and human rights is part of our comprehensive agenda.

At least as important in building respect for and making progress on human rights are the efforts of civil society institutions, NGOs, women's groups, academic institutions, and we support those efforts. And I have highlighted their good work in each capital I have visited, and I will do so here, as well, tomorrow.

FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) In my talks with Secretary Clinton today, we covered a wide range of areas, including human rights. I said that, given our differences in history, social system, and culture, it is only natural that our two countries may have some different views on human rights.

But I also said that it is the commitment of the Chinese government to continue to engage in human rights dialogues with the United States on the basis of equality and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, to increase our mutual understanding, narrow differences, and work together to advance the cause of human rights. Though these days it's a bit chilly in Beijing, but I have confidence that you will see the biggest number of smiling faces here.

It is provided for in China's constitution that the state respects and protects human rights. The Chinese government attaches great importance to ensuring the basic human rights of its people, and their freedom of religious belief. We are ready to engage in exchanges and contacts with all other countries to promote human rights. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Next question to Mark Lander from The New York Times.

QUESTION: A question for both Foreign Minister Yang and Secretary Clinton. In the last 15 years, China and the United States have developed an economic symbiosis, based on a high level of savings in China and a high level of spending in the United States. The economic crisis has raised questions about whether this relationship is sustainable. And I wonder whether it is time for a fundamental rethinking of the economic relationship between China and the U.S., and how might we go about doing that.

And then, one additional question for the foreign minister, China has invested much of these excess savings in U.S. government securities over the past few years. Has the U.S. housing and financial crisis caused the Chinese to reassess your faith in the U.S. as a place to invest the money of the Chinese people, and are you looking for alternatives?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mark, I think that what you have seen in both the United States and China is an effort to deal with the internal economic crisis that we each face.

Obviously, in our own country, under President Obama's leadership, we have passed a very large stimulus: $790 billion. We have passed the TARP funding that is now being utilized to try to stabilize our banks, and get them lending again. The President has just announced a $75 billion housing support plan.

So, the United States is taking very significant steps to stabilize our economy. And China has done similarly, internally, with its own stimulus package. So, both of our countries recognize that we have to act internally and externally. That is why the Foreign Minister and I discussed the G-20 summit, where we hope that there will be agreements about a new international financial system that will provide supervision, particularly for cross-border capital flows. There is a lot of work that we are going to undertake together.

But I think it is also fair to say that as we look into the future, after we recover from this economic crisis -- and I have every confidence that we will -- that China will continue to develop its own internal demand. As the Chinese people want more and more, in terms of consumer goods -- the Minister and I were talking about how so many Chinese families now have more and more appliances -- that will create greater room for internal demand in China.

And I think it would also be fair to say that many Americans have now come to terms with the fact that saving might be a good habit to acquire. So, I am confident that there will be a balanced approach from both of our countries and, working together with the European Union and Japan and other G-20 nations, that we will move forward.

And I appreciate greatly the Chinese government's continuing confidence in the United States treasuries. I think that is a well-grounded confidence. We have every reason to believe that the United States and China will recover, and that, together, we will help to lead the global recovery.

FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) Well, I want to first thank Secretary Clinton for inviting me to visit the United States in March. I look forward to visiting your country in March to exchange views with you on China-U.S. relations, and major international and regional issues, and, in particular, make further thoughtful arrangements for the meeting between our presidents in April.

It is my view that the door to China-U.S. relations be opened. The growth of business ties between us has brought real benefits to both peoples of the two countries, in particular the mid and low-income households.

We appreciate the massive steps taken by the U.S. government in boosting economic growth and overcoming the financial crisis. We believe that the American people are a people with creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, and we believe that, by working together, we will be able to tide over this financial crisis.

Turning to the Chinese economy, it is true that the Chinese economy now faces severe challenges brought about by the international financial crisis. In response to the challenge, we have adopted a series of targeted measures. For instance, including, among others, the investment program with a value of $4 trillion RMB yuan, aimed at boosting domestic demand.

I think the implementation of this massive program will also create favorable conditions for other countries to take part in the development in China. We have the confidence to maintain the steady and fairly fast growth of the Chinese economy, and maintain the growth rate of the Chinese economy at about eight percent this year. This, in itself, will be our biggest contribution to the international efforts in meeting the financial crisis challenge, and overcoming the economic difficulties.

It is true that China has used some of its foreign exchange reserves to buy the U.S. treasury bonds. In making use of our foreign exchange reserves, we want to insure the safety of the reserves, the good value of them, and also the liquidity of the forex (foreign exchange) reserves. We will make further determinations about the ways and means we will use in using our foreign exchange reserves, in accordance with the principles that I just laid out.

I want to emphasize here that facts speak louder than words. The fact is, China and the United States have conducted good cooperation, and we are ready to continue to work with the U.S. side.

QUESTION: (Via translator.) With Peoples Daily. Foreign Minister Yang, it has been over a month since the new U.S. administration came into office. How do you see the China-U.S. relations during the new U.S. administration?

FOREIGN MINISTER YANG: (Via interpreter.) Well, I think, with our joint efforts, the relationship between China and the Obama administration of the United States has already got off to a good start.

We appreciate the statements from the new U.S. government that the United States wants to build a more constructive and positive relationship with China. President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama discussed this by phone and other means, and they reached a lot of important agreement.

I believe that China-U.S. relations will move forward, will continue to move forward, in a sound and steady way. And the two countries will continue to work together in building and developing a relationship of mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win progress in a broader range of areas.

We highly appreciate that Secretary Clinton took time out of her busy schedule to pay a visit to China. And I think, with joint efforts, our talks have produced positive results.

Well, Madame Secretary, we very warmly welcome you here, back in Beijing. I think particularly people who are working here at this villa in Diaoyutai they are thrilled to see you back here in 10 years. The last time you were here, this building was not built yet. So we hope that you will come back often in the future, and you will be able to see the changes taking place here, even if you just come to Diaoyutai.

The visit President Clinton and you paid to China in 1998 was a very important visit, and you both made very important contributions to advancing the China-U.S. ties. Thank you.

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PRN: 2009/T1-23