Strategic Track Plenary Session of the Strategic and Economic Dialogues
Secretary of State
(In progress) for the warm welcome and hospitality that our entire delegation has enjoyed here in Beijing. As both Secretary Geithner and I reported to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao earlier today, this forward session of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue has proven the worth of our sustained, intense collaboration. And I especially wish to thank our Chinese hosts and the broad cross-section of participants in the strategic track. We have covered a lot of ground in the course of this 4th Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and I thank all of my colleagues for the work that they have done in the previous year in preparation for these meetings.
I want to emphasize a point that I made in a recent speech in the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, and I have been very honored that a number of my Chinese counterparts and colleagues have referenced it, because it is important to note that together we are trying to do something unprecedented – to write a new answer to the age old question: What happens when an established power and rising power meet?
We have examples in history that do not offer a good answer to that question. But I must report to you that for the United States, we see this as an opportunity, not a threat. We look at the expanding trade and investment between our economies, the ongoing consultations between our governments exemplified by the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the 11 meetings that our two presidents have held, the reciprocal visits of our vice-presidents, the connections between our peoples, the opening of a military-to-military dialogue, and in so many ways we are now two nations thoroughly and inescapably intertwined. I think that is positive news. I certainly make a point to saying that for the United States, because none of us can afford to keep looking at the world through old lenses.
Whether it’s the legacy of imperialism, the Cold War, or balance of power politics, zero-sum thinking will lead to negative-sum results. Instead, we need to build a resilient relationship that allows both of our countries to thrive without unhealthy competition, rivalry, or conflict, while leading our national, regional, and global responsibilities.
As we look to the future, we know that there will be continuing differences. That is to be expected; but through this ongoing, intensive consultation, we will work to remove misunderstanding, mistrust, and miscalculation. Where we have differences we will try to work them through, and even in the course of the last four years, I have been privileged to see an evolution in thinking on my side, and I hope the same is true on the Chinese side.
I particularly want to thank State Councilor Dai for the very constructive role that he has played. Before I actually took the oath of office as Secretary of State but after the President had nominated me, State Councilor Dai, through my mutual friend, Dr. Henry Kissinger, who was part of the great opening of 40 years ago, and now at the age of 89 remains an elder statesman of considerable influence, told me that I would have a very special opportunity to meet State Councilor Dai and that perhaps I would have the chance to work with him as well. Those words have proven to be prophetic.
So I am pleased that the councilor and I had the chance in numerous small meetings to discuss a full range of our most urgent, shared challenges. We have become able to talk about everything. And whether it is dealing with the new leadership in Pyongyang and ensuring the security and stability of the Korean Peninsula or our efforts to work together to prevent Iran from firing a nuclear weapon or to try to deal with the regional challenges of Sudan and South Sudan or the difficult situation in Syria. We have made progress in many areas. We are still working on a number of others, but these four hotspots represent the level of our consultation and efforts together. We are also working in the Asia Pacific to make sure that both China and the United States are strengthening regional institutions and universal norms. In the plenary today, we will hear from several of our representatives on specific issues, but overall, I have to report to our colleagues that this fourth dialogue has proven to be especially rich and useful.
I will ask Special Envoy Todd Stern to speak about our mutual interest in combating climate change and developing clean energy. In this room just yesterday, we were looking at cookstoves because China has joined the Global Alliance on Clean Cookstoves, and China is a leader in this area. And it is no simple or small problem, because it affects the health of people, and it affects the environment, and I was very encouraged by the commitment of China to help us deal with this issue. Ambassador Locke and Under Secretary Miller will discuss ongoing efforts to strengthen bilateral ties.
I just came from the third consultation on people-to-people exchanges with Madam Liu, and it was uplifting and extremely encouraging. Our efforts to bring about more exchanges between students and scholars, between academics, sports figures, media, artists, every aspect of our two societies is moving forward.
And what was especially touching to me was we had two students – one, a young American man, the other a young Chinese woman. The young American man is studying here on a Fulbright scholarship, and he stood and gave his presentation in Mandarin. And I’m told, by those who speak it, that he did a good job. And the young Chinese woman stood and in English described her studying in New York and what that had meant to her. It is that kind of exchange which may appear to be small and limited that if nurtured can create the people-to-people understanding that will sustain our relationship going forward.
And as we discuss all of the issues that affect both the Chinese and the American people, we will do so in a spirit of openness and candor. We appreciate the Chinese side’s issues where we and you do not always see the same situation in the same way, but we are working to make sure that none of that misperception or difference of opinion is allowed to interfere with the complex and comprehensive relationship. And on our side, we know we have disagreements on issues as well, human rights, between race in all of our dialogues is one we are continuing to work on. But as our mechanism grows stronger, as our engagement intensifies and sustains, the more confident we become, because we can speak freely on critical issues without endangering the future of the relationship.
So although this fourth round is the last for Councilor Dai and myself, I hope that all of you who will continue working on behalf of the Chinese and American Government will institutionalize our cooperation, will make sure that we don’t lose any ground, but that we continue to build toward that future we both see. Our collaboration will remain important. I sincerely believe the future of the 21st century depends on our getting this as right as we can. So with that, I thank you, State Councilor, for your leadership and your vision that has led us to four successful Strategic and Economic Dialogues.