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Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Remarks at U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue Opening Session,” May 3, 2012

Full text of Secretary of State Clinton's remarks at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue Opening Session.
May 3, 2012

Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and I know that both Secretary Geithner and I greatly appreciate all the work done by both of our delegations and the months of preparation for this meeting. I’ve read readings from President Obama and a letter from him expressing how important the Strategic and Economic Dialogue is to the U.S.-China relationship and how important this relationship is to the United States. 

As President Obama says, the United States remains committed to building a cooperative partnership based on mutual benefit and mutual respect. Since we launched this dialogue three years ago, high-ranking officials from both our governments have criss-crossed the Pacific dozens of times. Our relationship has grown closer and more consequential, and the web of connections that link our nations is increasing. 

As a result, this dialogue is even more necessary today than it was when it began, and the eyes of the world are once again upon us. The Chinese people and the American people looking for us to work together for their benefit, and the international community looking to us to work together for the world’s benefit; in today’s world, no global player can afford to treat geopolitics as a zero-sum game, so we are working to build a relationship that allows both of our countries to flourish without unhealthy competition or conflict, while at the same time meeting our responsibilities to our people and to the international community. 

We both know that we have to get this right because so much depends upon it. We also both know that our countries have become thoroughly, inescapably interdependent. As President Obama and I have said many times, the United States believes that a thriving China is good for America, and a thriving America is good for China. So we have a strong interest in China’s continued economic growth and if China’s rising capabilities means that we have an increasingly able and engaged partner in solving the threats we face to both regional and global security, that is all good. 

Now, having said that, we understand too that building a cooperative, resilient, mutually beneficial relationship is not easy. That’s why this dialogue is so critical as well as the Strategic Security Dialogue that took place here yesterday. We are discussing how the talks are opening economic activity to advance prosperity, support innovation, and improve the lives of people, how to promote greater military transparency to avoid misunderstandings, to build trust and maintain mutual stability, how to tackle some of the world’s most urgent crises from climate change to proliferation. 

The United States welcomes China’s increased engagement on the highest priority regional and global issues, and in our strategic track, we will be discussing these. For example, on Iran, the United States and China share the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And we had a productive first meeting as members of the P-5+1 in Istanbul, and are looking forward to the next meeting in Baghdad because we both understand it is critical to keep pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations, to negotiate seriously, and prove that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. 

In Syria, we are absolutely committed to end the brutal violence against civilians, and therefore, it is essential that the international community work together to hold the regime and the others involved in violence accountable, because regrettably, the Security Council on which we both serve as current members is at stake. 

Regarding North Korea, the missile launch seems to suggest that Pyongyang actually used improved relations with the outside world not a goal, but as a threat. And we recognize the role that China is playing and are continuing to work together to make it clear to North Korea that strength and security will come from prioritizing the needs of its people, not from further provocation. 

In Sudan and South Sudan, China and the United States are working together. In fact, with me today is the U.S. special envoy to Sudan who is in regular contact with the Chinese special representative for Africa. And I’m pleased that China and the United States joined with a unified international community just hours ago to support a strong UN security resolution that provides unambiguous support for the African Union roadmap. 

Our countries are addressing everything from cyber security to the changes and reforms going on in Burma to piracy and so much else, because we know that we are working to better the lives of our people and a better future for all humanity. Now of course, as part of our dialogue, the United States raises the importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms because we believe that all governments do have to answer to citizens’ aspirations for dignity and the rule of law, and that no nation can or should deny those rights. 

As President Obama said this week, a China that protects the rights of all its citizens will be a stronger and more prosperous nation, and of course, a stronger partner on behalf of our common goals. The conversations we have here in Beijing reflect how much the U.S.-China relationship has grown in the 40 years since President Nixon came to China. Then, we had hardly any ties to speak of; now, we work together. I think it’s fair to say China and the United States cannot solve all the problems of the world, but without our cooperation, it is doubtful any problem can be solved. And so we are working as we go forward with our dialogue, seeking opportunities for engagement, building ties that are not only between governments but family, friends, entrepreneurs, students, scholars, artists, and so much else. 

Tomorrow, I will attend the annual meeting of U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchanges, and we will discuss the progress we’re making, including for our 100000 Strong Education Initiative that will increase significantly the numbers and diversity of American students studying in China. 

So I wish to thank our hosts for their gracious hospitality once again, and pledge that we will continue to work together in a true spirit of partnership and mutual respect for the mutual benefit of our two nations. Thank you very much.