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 Opening Statement by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. at the May 2007 Meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue


5/22/2007

HP-414 

Washington, DC – Good morning.  It is with great pleasure that I welcome Vice Premier Wu and your colleagues to Washington, and the second meeting of the Strategic Economic Dialogue.

Your visit is historically unprecedented. Never before have so many Ministers from China gathered in one place in the United States. The number of senior officials who are focusing their time and attention on this effort is a demonstration of our shared and on-going commitment to the vision and purpose of this dialogue.   We both recognize how critical it is for our countries that we get our long-term economic relationship right.

When President Bush and President Hu created the SED last August, their leadership set us on a course that led to our inaugural December meeting in Beijing, has continued through a series of meetings among Chinese and U.S. officials since then, to this Washington gathering, and will continue after we leave here.   An open, honest economic relationship between our two countries is pivotal to the future of the global economy.  The SED is a forum to manage that relationship on a long-term strategic basis, for our mutual benefit, and to work towards near-term agreements that build confidence on both sides. 

Our task is not an easy one. We must address the immediate concerns that are impacting our industries and citizens and simultaneously identify tomorrow's issues.  We must maintain a partnership, and engage in this process to solve what may seem unsolvable. We conduct our talks under the wary eyes of politicians, business leaders and workers in both of our countries.

We both face challenges of domestic protectionism and questions about the merits of trade and globalization.  There is a growing skepticism in each country about the others' intentions.   Unfortunately, in America this is manifesting itself as anti-China sentiment as China becomes a symbol of the real and imagined downside of global competition.  That argument is fueled by the evidence of persistent trade and financial imbalances.  China has its own opposition, with its own set of arguments.  The purpose of this on-going dialogue is to have candid discussions and find ways to ease, rather than increase, these tensions.

A look back demonstrates, of course, that increasing our ties has benefited both our people.  China's presence in the global economy has raised living standards in China and fueled growth around the world.   Ten years ago, China was an outsider in the global marketplace; other countries set the rules and China was expected to abide by them. Now, China is a member of the WTO, a dynamic economic force and a model for other developing countries. China is able to help lead and define the rules.  Neither America nor China can shrink from the role we have carved for ourselves in the world.  We both must exercise leadership, in positive and productive ways.  I have no doubt that our proud, strong countries can fulfill this responsibility.

The United States is supportive of a stable and prosperous China.  We are not afraid of the competition. We welcome it, because competition makes us stronger.  It is therefore in our interest to support China's continuing efforts to open its economy.  As I have said before, our policy disagreements are not about the direction of change, but about the pace of change. Americans have many virtues ---we are a hard-working, innovative people---but we are also impatient.   Even the notion of a "dialogue" may seem too passive for America's action-oriented ethic.  It is up to us, over these two days and in the work that follows, to show that words are precursors to action.

The SED allows us to look forward, together, and define our future bilateral economic relationship. We are creating a roadmap for the future.  So, welcome again, Madame Wu, distinguished Ministers and colleagues.  Let's get to work.

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