May 9 - The U.S. and China launch two days of talks emphasizing common ground as they prepare to discuss currency and human rights issues. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
The United States and China launch two days of talks Monday emphasizing common ground as they prepare to discuss irritants in their relations ranging from currencies to human rights. The annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue gives the world's two biggest economies a chance to manage, if not resolve, their often tense policy differences. Both sides pledged to use the talks to that end. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden SOUNDBITE: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, saying (English): "We are linked by our shared global responsibilities. We both serve as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. We are both Pacific powers. And for many of the world's pressing challenges, it is a simple fact, when the United States and China are not at the table, the solution to the problem is less possible than when we are at the stable." Biden also commented on human rights underscoring Washington's concern over a recent crackdown on dissent by Beijing. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, saying (English): "We have a vigorous disagreement in the area of human rights. We have noted our concerns about the recent crackdown in China, including attacks, arrest and disappearance of journalists, lawyers, bloggers and artists. And again, no relationship that is real can be built on a false foundation. Where we disagree, it is important to state it." During the opening ceremony, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan focused on what the two powers agree on. SOUNDBITE: Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, saying (English translation provided by China): "There are both complimentarities and clashes in our respective policies geared to ensure our recovery, However, we have far more shared interests and cooperation than differences and competition." Ahead of the talks, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said letting the yuan appreciate more rapidly would allow the Chinese to better control inflation. But when officials sat down with each other, he spoke of progress. SOUNDBITE: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, saying (English): "Overall, I believe we are making significant progress in strengthening our economic relationship. Over the past year, we seen very promising changes in the overall direction of Chinese economic policy towards a more flexible exchange rate, a growth strategy less reliant on exports, and better protection for US companies operating in or exporting to China." With the U.S. economy growing only modestly after the financial crisis, and Washington still reliant on selling its debt to China, both countries have a stake in keeping relations on an even keel to foster global recovery. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.