Remarks At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dinner Honoring His Excellency Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Washington, DC
September 10, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And it is a real pleasure to join you this evening in welcoming Chairman Wu here to Washington. Mr. Chairman, I hope you feel as welcome in our capital city as I did in Beijing earlier this year on my first overseas trip as Secretary of State.

I want to thank Tom and the Chamber and all of the sponsors for hosting this dinner. The range of people and organizations represented here tonight is a testament to the scope and scale of the relationship between China and the United States and its enduring impact across industries, institutions, and borders. We are joined by representatives of business community, the non-profit world, cultural organizations, think tanks, as well as the Congress and the Administration. And I’m delighted to be here with my colleague, the Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke.

The relationship between our two countries has the potential to chart a brighter course, not just for our own nations and peoples, but indeed for the entire world. We are two of the world’s three largest economies, two of the world’s largest populations, two of the world’s largest militaries, the world’s largest consumers of energy and producers of carbon emissions. For these reasons and so many more, our respective priorities and policies have a global impact, and therefore we have a responsibility to ourselves and others to work as effectively as we can to meet the threats and seize the opportunities of the 21st century.

As Tom said, we have begun a groundbreaking Strategic and Economic Dialogue between our two countries. This is an effort to seek new avenues for collaboration, to find solutions together to common problems we face. Secretary Geithner and I were honored to co-host the first round here in Washington a little over a month ago, and the results exceeded our expectations. This was the largest gathering ever of top leaders from our two countries. Most of my colleagues in the Cabinet met with their counterparts in the Chinese Government. We got to know each other better through hours spent in consultation and negotiations. We had very productive exchanges on issues ranging from the global economic crisis to climate change to poverty and disease to the security threats that confront us. And already, we are seeing the results of those meetings.

President Obama and I believe we are entering a new era in China-U.S. relations. Building a strong relationship with China is a central goal of the Obama Administration and a personal priority of mine. We embraced the idea of an expanded dialogue with China early in the Administration because we wanted to build upon it as much as possible in the months and years ahead, to yield the most meaningful results and to build an even stronger foundation for future cooperation. I am very pleased that President Obama will be visiting China in November. We know that together we bear heavy responsibilities on our shoulders. We have to work to forge a new global architecture of cooperation. We have to deepen and broaden our partnership, mutual respect and shared responsibility.

We believe that through more open and honest discussion, we can strengthen not only our economic ties and accelerate the global recovery, but we can do more to strengthen that intangible of trust and of confidence that must exist between our two great countries and their leaders. (Applause.)

There are so many issues that we have to address. I just want to mention a couple. One is climate change. When I was in Beijing last winter, I visited a geothermal plant that brought together U.S. and Chinese businesses and scientists in partnership to provide clean energy and green jobs. We believe that this is the kind of investment and collaboration that is good for China, it’s good for America, and it is good for our planet. So we are cooperating more closely on other clean energy initiatives as well, including the agreement you signed this week, Mr. Chairman, with the Arizona company First Solar to develop the largest solar farm in the world. In July, during our Strategic and Economic Dialogue, our nations completed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance our cooperation on climate change, energy, and the environment. We believe that this is essential to establishing a very positive tone leading in to the Copenhagen conference in December.

We are also committed to working with China and other partners to bring peace and stability to the world’s hot spots. Our envoy to North Korea, Steven Bosworth, just returned from China, where he met with Chinese leaders to work on increasing stability in Northeast Asia by resuming the Six-Party Talks and implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874. We seek to work with China to urge Iran to live up to its international obligations. And there are many other urgent global threats that demand our joint attention, from nonproliferation to pandemic disease, particularly the H1N1 virus, to reducing poverty – and I have said publicly and privately about China and to Chinese leaders, we admire the extraordinary progress that China has made in the last 30 years in reducing poverty in China and giving tens of millions of Chinese people the chance to have a better future. And I am pleased to announce that the United States and China will be conducting joint talks on counterterrorism this fall.

Now, we will not see eye-to-eye on every issue. We have different histories, different experiences, different perspectives. But we must seek to talk honestly and openly even when agreement is not possible. And we are committed to doing so. In July, we had a very full and frank discussion about human rights, and we agreed to hold the next round of our Human Rights Dialogue before the end of the year, and to reconvene the U.S.-China Legal Experts Dialogue. We know that this is an important part of our engagement with China.

Now, Chairman Wu is China’s chief lawmaker. I am a former lawmaker. We both know that governments are essential to solving global problems. But there is a limit to what governments can accomplish on their own. That’s why we need partnerships beyond government that stretch across sectors, that engage the full range of talent in our countries – from the expertise of our scholars and scientists to the creative energy of our young people and the adventurous spirit of our entrepreneurs.

Business and industry will continue to play a critical role in building a stronger U.S.-China relationship. Individual joint ventures, purchase agreements, and two-way investments have increased bilateral trade by more than 400 percent just in the past decade alone. And I could not stand before any audience of this importance without mentioning the U.S. pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. (Applause.) Now, some of you know that this is a particular passion of mine, and it’s not only because I want to go back to Shanghai to open it, but it’s because this pavilion will showcase American innovation and culture to the more than 70 million visitors that China expects to welcome to the Expo. I want to thank Tom and the Chamber for the help that you have provided as we have raised the money to have a first-class pavilion that will showcase our country. It is not too late to contribute. (Laughter and applause.)

So we will be moving forward with our partnership at all levels. But the most telling measures of our progress may be less tangible than a geothermal plant or even a pavilion. We are not merely looking to address current concerns. We intend to lay the groundwork for a new pattern of cooperation, a new forum for discussion, a new structure for engagement that will allow us to work together far into the future.

This is an issue that really goes to the heart of why any of us are here tonight. Yes, those in business have to plan to be successful, to be profitable, to make sure that the products stand the test of time. Those of in government, we need to produce results for the people we represent. Chairman Wu and I know that even though we have very different political systems, at the end of the day, we are judged in the same way. Have we made life better for the people that we represent and serve?

I like to think, as I told State Councilor Dai during a wonderful dinner we had at the very beginning of our Strategic and Economic Dialogue, that in any important relationship, in any endeavor that holds promise for the future, we should think about the children whom we love, our own children, and in State Councilor Dai’s case, a very new grandchild, and almost have the pictures of those children in front of us and ask ourselves: Are we making the decisions that will give each of them a better future, a more peaceful, prosperous, secure world, a world where our children can breathe the air and drink the water, where they can pursue their own futures if they are well educated and healthy, where they have a chance to really make the most of their own lives?

That is what is at the core of our relationship between China and the United State – a hope and a commitment to that kind of future. Thank you all very much, and thank you, Chairman Wu. (Applause.)

PRN: 2009/894