Respect our path, China tells U.S.
Chinese leaders called on their US counterparts to deepen mutual trust and to respect the nation's right to follow its own development agenda, as annual bilateral talks started in Beijing yesterday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said bilateral co-operation was crucial to solving global problems.
Both countries appeared to make an effort not to let the latest developments in the saga of blind activist Chen Guangcheng overshadow the Strategic and Economic Dialogue and to keep its focus on trade and economic issues, such as Chinese currency reform.
Chen, who recently escaped government-imposed house arrest, said yesterday that he had changed his mind and wanted to go to the United States instead of staying in China.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the talks, President Hu Jintao called for co-operation and warned that any worsening of relations posed 'grave' risks to the world.
'Given the different national conditions, it is impossible for China and the United States to see eye to eye on every issue,' Hu said.
'We should approach our differences in the correct way and respect and accommodate each other's interests and concerns. We should properly manage differences through dialogue and by improving mutual understanding.'
Vice-Premier Wang Qishan said both countries faced their own difficulties in dealing with the effects of the global financial crisis, and it was important for both to fix their own problems.
'Every family has a story that is difficult to read,' he said. 'Under the existing circumstances, China and [the] US should get their own things done properly.'
Chinese leaders gave Sino-US ties a positive assessment but also called for America to respect China's sovereignty and abide by international-relations norms.
'The fundamental way to managing state-to-state relations is to abide by the basic norms governing international relations, namely, to respect each other's sovereignty, core interests and choice of social system and development path,' said State Councillor Dai Bingguo .
He said nothing could push the two countries towards confrontation, but added that they would face difficulties in boosting ties.
Clinton said the US would raise human rights concerns during the talks, but placed more stress on the importance of bilateral co-operation.
She said the US was committed to building a co-operative partnership with China, and called for Beijing's help in easing global tensions over Iran and North Korea.
'I think it is fair to say that China and the US cannot solve all the problems of the world. But without our co-operation, it is doubtful any problems can be solved,' she said.
Shi Yinhong, a US affairs expert at Renmin University, said the Chinese leaders' remarks were a subtle expression of Beijing's frustration over Chen's case.
'The US has previously said it respects China's right to choose its development path. But the incidents ... have raised serious concerns about whether the US is becoming more disrespectful of China and increasingly meddling in China's domestic problems,' he said.
Commerce Minister Chen Deming urged the US to remove restrictions on hi-tech exports.
'Mr [Timothy] Geithner [America's treasury secretary] has said the US has started relaxing the restriction, but it seems that some restrictions have been strengthened recently,' Chen said.