Relations go beyond bilateral concerns, president tells Chinese embassy staff President Hu Jintao yesterday described the Sino-US relationship as one of the most important in the world, and one that transcended the concerns of the two countries. 'It has been proven that in the new international background, the importance of Sino-US relations has not declined but elevated,' Mr Hu said. 'Our commonly shared strategic interests have not shrunk but expanded. Sino-US relations have already risen beyond bilateral ties. I believe that as long as we take a high-level and long-term strategic view in dealing with Sino-US relations, to mutually respect, treat equally, increase communication and co-operate in a mutually beneficial way, Sino-US relations will definitely have a brighter future.' Mr Hu made the comments on Tuesday, the first day of his US tour, in a 20-minute address to about 200 overseas Chinese and embassy staff in Seattle. Mainland leaders usually make such an address during overseas visit and they have become a platform to voice their positions on foreign policy. Tuesday's event was restricted to mainland, Hong Kong and overseas Chinese media. After the speech, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the US and China would have to work together on a number of global issues, including countering the spread of terrorism, proliferation of nuclear weapons and combating threats to public health. Richard Baum, a political science professor who specialises in Chinese politics at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Mr Hu's remarks appeared to be a direct response to a request last September from US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who called on China to be a responsible stakeholder in world affairs. 'Up until recently, Sino-US relations have all been bilateral in nature,' Professor Baum said. 'But now we're in the World Trade Organisation together and facing epidemics such as the bird flu, so there is a lot of multilateral involvement now with the United States.' He said he was not surprised by the president's remarks. 'His speech, to me, sounded very predictable and not very exciting. Obviously, he's coming to accentuate the position and not for a showdown with President Bush,' Professor Baum said. Mr Hu spoke in broad terms about his mission to the US, saying only that he would discuss the development of Sino-US relations and some international issues with President George W. Bush when they met today in Washington. President Hu also gave a brief report on the progress of economic growth on the mainland, citing more than a dozen figures on the economy in the speech that was delivered from memory. Mr Hu also thanked the audience for letters he received from 32 Chinese organisations ahead of his visit. He ended the speech with one last encouraging statement: 'The motherland will always be a shield for Chinese sons and daughters.'