Remarks at Banquet for Vice Premier Wang, State Councilor Dai and the Chinese delegation

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner
Washington, DC
May 9, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening, everyone. Good evening and welcome to the Benjamin Franklin Room here in the State Department. I am delighted that Secretary Geithner and I have the great privilege of once again hosting the third Strategic and Economic Dialogue here in Washington. A few weeks ago in this very room, I had the privilege of sitting and talking with Dr. Henry Kissinger, my esteemed predecessor and a good friend to many of us here. He spoke of the early days of the U.S.-China diplomatic relationship going back 40 years now. And he discussed many of the challenges that his generation of diplomats on both sides had to overcome.

Tonight, I cannot help but marvel at how far we have come together. These have been decades of unprecedented growth and progress for China. It has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and has helped to drive global prosperity. The United States has welcomed China’s growth and we have benefited from it. Today, our economies are entwined and so are our futures. Relations are far broader and deeper than even Dr. Kissinger and his colleagues could have imagined all those years ago.

This change has brought with it our own new challenges. History teaches that often, the rise of new powers ushers in periods of conflict and uncertainty. And during our Strategic Dialogue today, State Councilor Dai and I and our colleagues discussed the concerns that people in both of our countries feel about the other. But in the 21st century, it does not make sense to apply the zero-sum 19th century theories of how major powers interact. Indeed, we are moving through unchartered territory and we need new ways of understanding the shifting dynamics of the international landscape and our own bilateral relationship.

Deng Xiaoping once described China’s process of reform and modernization as being like a person crossing a river by feeling his way over the stones. That is a good description of the way forward that we must chart together. We know it won’t be easy and there will certainly be times when both our countries stumble on the unexpected stones. But if we continue building the habits of cooperation and respect that this dialogue represents, and if we learn to trust one another and better understand each other’s intentions, then I am confident we will not let those slippery stones trip us up and derail our progress. We are very pleased at the habits of cooperation and understanding that have already been developed, and we greatly appreciated the successful visit by President Hu Jintao this past January and the agreements that he and President Obama have made to deepen our relationship to make it one that is positive, cooperative, and comprehensive.

So to all of my American colleagues, members of the Cabinet, and other leaders of our government, thank you for your work on behalf of this dialogue. And to our Chinese colleagues and partners, thank you for making this long journey – not only the journey you made by the airplane that brought you here, but the journey that we are making together to build a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

Please enjoy the evening, and now let me ask Secretary Geithner to make a few remarks.

SECRETARY GEITHNER: Good evening and welcome. I begin with the traditional Chinese welcome, a traditional Chinese welcome. Bear with me. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius said (in Chinese). (Applause.) It’s not over yet. Vice Premier Wang and State Councilor Dai and distinguished members of the Chinese delegation, a warm welcome to the United States. (Applause.)

I first went to China about 30 years ago to study Chinese. I went to Beijing. I studied for the summer at Beida Beijing Dàxué. And at that time, that was an exceptional thing. It was a rare thing for an American to have the privilege of traveling and studying China, and rare as well for Chinese to have the experience of studying in the United States. And of course, that is no longer a rare thing.

And if there is one fundamental basis for confidence in this relationship today, the future of this relationship, it is in the reality that today, thousands and thousands of Americans are studying in China, and thousands and thousands of Chinese have the experience of learning more about the United States. And there is no basis for negotiation, there is no basis for partnership, there is no basis for accommodation without both countries making the kind of sustained investment you need to understand the interests and intentions and values and traditions of the other country.

We’ve made a lot of progress the last two years. If you find it hard to appreciate how hard this is to do, or hard to appreciate the importance of the progress we have achieved, just think back to the breakdown in cooperation during the Great Depression that turned a severe financial crisis into a global catastrophe. And the record of cooperation we have built with China in this period of crisis was decisive in helping lift the world out of the fires of crisis and into a period now where we can say the world is growing again.

So I end with a toast. We’ll do a virtual toast.


SECRETARY GEITHNER: To the future success of the U.S.-China strategic and economic partnership, to a stronger global economy, and a more peaceful world. Cheers. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Cheers. Cheers, my friend. Cheers.

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PRN: 2011/718