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Secretary Clinton in Beijing

May 24, 2010

Beijing, China

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. I want to thank State Councilor Dai and Vice-Premier Wang for their very warm hospitality. It is a pleasure for our entire delegation to be here in Beijing. And it is an honor to join my colleague, Secretary Geithner, and the many officials from across our government in representing the United States at this second round of the strategic and economic dialogue.

I first visited China in 1995, and I have been privileged to return since then. Every trip to China offers fresh insights and images of the dynamism of this country and its people, the pace of change, and the possibilities for the future. Back in 1995, trade between our two nations was measured in the tens of billions of dollars. Today it is counted in the hundreds of billions. Few people back then had cell phones, and almost no one had access to the Internet. Today China has the world’s largest mobile phone network, and more Internet users than any other country on earth.

In 1995, both our countries signed on to the Beijing platform for action to advance equality and opportunity for women. And while there is still much to do in both of our countries, I know that Chinese women have made real progress in education, health care, and employment. Hundreds of millions of men, women, and children have been lifted out of poverty. And China has flourished in so many ways. Freer trade and open markets have created jobs in both our countries, and given Chinese consumers access to new goods and to higher standards of living.

The United States welcomes China’s progress and its accomplishments. And by establishing patterns of cooperation, rather than competition between our two countries, we see the opportunity, as we have just heard from Vice-Premier Wang, for win-win solutions, rather than zero-sum rivalries, for we know that few global problems can be solved by the United States or China acting alone. And few can be solved without the United States and China working together.

With this in mind, I would like to read a few lines of a letter from President Obama that I will be personally handing to President Hu Jintao. President Obama wrote: “Our relationship with China is guided by the recognition that we live in an inter-connected world. One country’s success need not come at the expense of another. Our progress can be shared. Indeed, the United States welcomes China as a strong, prosperous, and successful member of the community of nations.”

Over the past 16 months, we have worked together to lay the foundation for that positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship that President Obama and President Hu have committed our nations to pursuing. We launched the strategic and economic dialogue last year in Washington, as the premier convening mechanism in our relationship. And this year we have assembled an even broader and deeper team, here in China, to address our growing agenda. We have built avenues of cooperation and identified areas of mutual interest.

Our job, moving forward, is to translate that common interest into common action and, in turn, to translate that action into results that improve the lives of our people, and contribute to global progress. Over the long term, these results are how our relationship will be measured.

We are conscious that meaningful progress against great global challenges is the work of years, not days. We know that this gathering, in and of itself, is a foundation for ongoing cooperation that has to take place every day at every level of our government. And so, we will blend urgency and persistence in pursuit of shared goals.

We have already begun to see progress on some of the key areas of common concern that we laid out in our first dialogue last year. But there is much work to be done.

First, on international security challenges, the United States and China have consulted closely on the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran concerns us all. And to address that threat, together we have pursued a dual-track approach of engagement and pressure, aimed at encouraging Iran’s leaders to change course. The draft resolution agreed to by all of our P-5+1 partners and circulated at the Security Council sends a clear message to the Iranian leadership: Live up to your obligation, or face growing isolation and consequences. As we continue to cooperate in New York, the burden is on Iran to demonstrate through its actions that it will uphold its responsibility.

North Korea is also a matter of urgent concern. Last year we worked together to pass and enforce a strong UN Security Council resolution in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear test. And today we face another serious challenge, provoked by the sinking of the South Korean ship. So we must work together, again, to address this challenge and advance our shared objectives for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. We asked North Korea to stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats and belligerence towards its neighbors, and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, and comply with international law.

Now, beyond these two pressing challenges there are other shared security concerns that I look forward to discussing, including the fight against violent extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, counter-piracy efforts, and deeper military-to-military cooperation.

Second, on climate and energy, we have built on the memorandum of understanding signed at the last round of the dialogues, collaborating on new, clean energy research, including a center. We have committed ourselves to an electrical vehicle initiative, and a renewable energy partnership, and more. At Copenhagen, for the first time, all major economies, including both the United States and China, made national commitments to curb carbon emissions and transparently report on their mitigation efforts. Now we must work to implement the Copenhagen accord with balanced commitments that are reflected in the ongoing negotiation.

And on behalf of Secretary Steven Chu, I extend his regrets. He was unable to be with us, because he had to stay and work very urgently on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Third, on education, health, and development, tomorrow I will meet with State Councilor Lio to launch a new dialogue on educational and cultural exchanges that will deepen understanding and cooperation between our people. I am very pleased that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has joined us this year to expand cooperation on infectious diseases and other international health challenges. Our ambassador for global women’s issues, Melanne Verveer, is also here because we recognize that the roles and rights of women are central to many of the issues we face, including devising a global strategy for development that is both sustainable and effective.

The Obama Administration has worked to advance a long-term investment-driven approach to development. And Administrator Raj Shah is leading our efforts. We have elevated development as a core pillar of our foreign policy, and we seek to coordinate with China and other donors to meet country-led needs and to comply with internationally-agreed standards.

Finally, we have worked together and seen progress on promoting global economic recovery and growth. Secretary Geithner, Secretary Locke, Ambassador Kirk, Chairman Bernanke, and the rest of our economic team will be talking in greater depth about how we can develop a more balanced global economy that will produce prosperity that reaches further and deeper for both the Chinese and American people.

Now, our discussions in these few days are unlikely to solve the shared challenges we face. But they can and should provide a framework for delivering real results to our people. We will not agree on every issue. But we will discuss them openly, as between friends and partners. And that includes America’s commitment to universal human rights and dignity, and so much else that is on both Chinese and American minds.

There is a Chinese proverb that speaks of treading different paths that lead to the same destination. Our two nations have unique histories. China is home to an ancient civilization, as I saw in the Chinese Pavilion when I visited, with the scroll that has been made to come alive, showing life in this city 1,000 years ago. America is a young nation. But we know that our future, both our challenges and our opportunities, will be shared. We have traveled different paths, but that shared future is our common destination and responsibility. And, ultimately, that is what this dialogue is about.

So, again, let me thank State Councilor Dai and Vice-Premier Wang, and I look forward to our discussions in an open and candid exchange of views. Thank you very much.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    May 24, 2010 9:56 am

    She waited until the third to last paragraph, but Hillary did reiterate our commitment to universal human rights and, earlier, to equality for women. By drawing “then and now” comparisons between her first visit in 1995 and the current trip, I thought she was also inviting listeners to examine what has changed for the better — and what has not. Not everything we might have wanted her to say, but not a total whitewash.

    Or maybe I just need to whitewash everything my gal does to the very end! 😉

  2. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    May 24, 2010 10:02 am

    Even the New York Times noted that some of the topics Hilary raised “veered far from economics and security” : “Mrs. Clinton singled out Melanne Verveer, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for women’s issues, who is meeting with Chinese women’s groups to discuss their progress in women’s rights.”

    OK, end of whitewash

    • May 24, 2010 12:40 pm

      I don’t doubt Hillary’s personal commitment to human rights, I’ve just begun to question this administration’s approach to it.

      One of the things Obama is faced with going in to 2012 is the fact that prior to his election and immediately upon his inauguration he set impossibly high expectations- just look at his brilliant speech in Cairo- the problem is that raising people’s expectations almost makes it worse when you fail to meet or exceed those expectations. People got their hopes up and have had them dashed. As an example, a lot of Arabs in the Middle East have become disillusioned very quickly because now the Cairo speech, at least to them (based on things I have read in the Arab press) just seems like empty words. And that’s a real problem for Obama moving forward.

      And anyway, just ignore my rantings about China, you know I’m a total grump when it comes to anything having to do with them anyway ;).

  3. rachel permalink
    May 24, 2010 10:31 am

    I think part of the problem is that nothing Hillary says will be as powerful as what she said in 95 and people are probably gonna have to stop comparing then and now.

    • May 24, 2010 11:34 am

      Well, hopefully people realize she can’t really do that as SOS. The sense I get reading a lot of blogs and newsletters from human rights groups is that a lot of people on both the left and the right thought this administration would be stronger on human rights- and not just China but Sudan, Egypt, Honduras, Colombia, etc. and a lot of people are just really disappointed. At least Clinton *talks* about it but Obama never mentions it.

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