WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Monday opened two days of U.S.-China talks by positioning the relationship as the most important to the world, while prodding America’s largest creditor to advance its environmental, human rights and nuclear policies.
“The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world,” Obama told an audience for the “U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue” in Washington. “That really must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility that together we bear.”
Obama also will travel to China later this year.
On Monday, he acknowledged China’s role in helping contain the effects of the U.S. economic crisis.
“The current crisis has made it clear that the choices made within our borders reverberate across the global economy,” the president said. “As Americans save more and Chinese are able to spend more, we can put growth on a more sustainable foundation. Because just as China has benefited from substantial investment and profitable exports, China can also be an enormous market for American goods.”
Obama acknowledged wariness on both sides – fears of a too-powerful China, or of America seeking to limit China’s rise – but said neither he nor President Hu Jintao sees things in those terms.
“I have no illusion that the United States and China will agree on every issue, nor choose to see the world in the same way,” Obama said, but he urged dialogue and candor.
The two-day talks in Washington are part of a series of rotating meetings between top economic and foreign policy officials from both governments that began in the Bush administration.