- Barack Obama - China - human rights - US economy - USA
AFP - The United States and China pledged to work together on a raft of issues from climate change to free trade to Iran as they set the stage for an era of closer cooperation.
The mood was upbeat as the Pacific powers wrapped up two days of in-depth talks Tuesday, with top Chinese officials playing at a news conference with a basketball signed by hoops-loving President Barack Obama.
But even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that the dialogue was more about ideas than specifics, with the two sides mostly agreeing to hold more talks on a broad swath of issues.
"Laying this groundwork may not deliver a lot of concrete achievements immediately, but every step on this path to create confidence and understanding is a very good investment," Clinton told reporters.
The world's largest developed and developing nations have had sometimes prickly ties, with a series of military standoffs in recent months and long-running feuds over China's human rights record.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the two countries were committed to working together to revive the ailing global economy, and would firmly resist protectionism in the process.
Geithner said China had agreed to longstanding US economic concerns, with the two nations agreeing to treat foreign-owned firms operating in their markets equally to domestic companies in awarding government contracts.
He said China also promised it would work to boost domestic demand, making consumption a bigger slice of a giant economy fueled by a flood of manufactured exports.
"The most important thing we achieved today was to agree on this broad framework for policies and reform... to help lay the foundation for a more sustainable, more balanced global recovery," Geithner said.
Geithner's remarks were echoed by China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who said the two countries "will strengthen cooperation to jointly build a strong financial system" to ensure "stability in the two countries and the world at large."
China is the largest creditor to the heavily indebted United States and Chinese officials in recent months have worried aloud about the security of Beijing's more than 800 billion dollars invested in US Treasury bonds.
Clinton said she raised concerns about China's human rights record including recent ethnic violence in Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.
"Human rights is absolutely integral to the Strategic and Economic Dialogue," Clinton said. "It is a part of our policy, not only with China, but with other countries."
The Obama administration has pursued a careful line on human rights with China, criticizing many of its practices while also pledging to be respectful of Chinese culture.
Wang Guangya, China's vice foreign minister, thanked the United States for its "moderate" stance on Xinjiang.
Dozens of Uighurs held a noisy protest, chanting "Shame on China!", outside the White House as a motorcade of Chinese delegates arrived for the talks' finale.
The dialogue marks the broadening of US-China talks started under former president George W. Bush, which focused on economic affairs.
Obama, addressing the opening on Monday, said that the US-China relationship was "as important as any" in the world and vowed that he would pursue "cooperation, not confrontation" as Beijing's clout grows.
US media reported this week that China's robust economy is on track to overtake Japan as the world's second-largest, perhaps by the end of 2009.
Meanwhile, during their two-day talks, the United States and China said they discussed a raft of global issues, including in-depth consultations on North Korea.
Clinton said that the two countries saw eye-to-eye on Iran, fearing a "destabilizing" arms race in the region if the Islamic republic develops nuclear weapons.
The two nations -- by far the biggest emitters of carbon blamed for global warming -- also signed a memorandum putting the fight against climate change at the heart of their ties.
While short on specifics, the two sides said they would put in place a committee on environmental cooperation aimed at smoothing the rocky path toward a new global treaty on climate change in Copenhagen in December.