The top US labour official expressed hope yesterday that the US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue would continue after a new president was chosen in January. 'With the ending of this administration and the election of a new one, regardless as to who is going to be elected president, we hope that this important framework for discussion will be continued,' US Secretary of Labour Elaine Chao told students at Shanghai's Jiaotong University. Ms Chao, who was visiting China as leader of the US government delegation to the Olympics closing ceremony, was positive on bilateral ties with no mention of issues such as the yuan value and human rights. 'The relationship between our two countries will only grow,' she said. 'And invariably, there will be ups, there will be downs, but that's why we need to communicate.' The talks were set up by President Hu Jintao and US President George W. Bush in 2006 to better manage the countries' economic relationship. They meet twice a year, and the next, possibly last, meeting is in December in Beijing. A Chinese academic said the dialogue had proved its worth, though it had not solved all the problems. 'Whether the dialogue will continue, this is a key question ... It's difficult to predict now,' said Xiao Lian , head of the Centre for US Economic Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 'But no matter which party will govern, enhancing bilateral co-operation will be a consensus.' Ms Chao replaced US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who cancelled plans to attend the closing ceremony over the Georgia crisis. Mr Bush was at the opening ceremony.