Today, President Obama made a few remarks on the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue and the importance such talks can have on further positive development of the relationship between the American and Chinese people. Here is an excerpt:
Last summer, I was proud to welcome many of you to the White House as our two countries launched this Strategic and Economic Dialogue. I want to thank President Hu, Vice Premier Wang, State Councilor Dai, and the entire Chinese delegation for their hospitality in hosting this year’s meeting.
As I said when we began this dialogue, the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world. Together, we set out to build a positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship, and we pledged to cooperate to advance our shared interests. That is what we have done.
As two of the world’s largest economies, we have worked together, and with our G-20 partners, to sustain the global economic recovery. During my visit to China last fall, we forged clean energy partnerships, and at Copenhagen we made important commitments to confront climate change.
Over the next two days, our two countries have the opportunity to deepen our cooperation even further and advance the prosperity, health and security of our people. Together, we can promote economic growth that is balanced and sustained and trade that is free and fair. We can work to fulfill the commitments we made at Copenhagen. We can address pressing regional and global security challenges, including strengthening the global nonproliferation regime to ensure the rights and responsibilities of all nations. We need to improve communication between our militaries, which promotes mutual understanding and confidence.
Our two nations may not always agree on every issue, but this dialogue also allows us to communicate and understand one another better. This includes America’s abiding commitment to those human rights that are universal and to the dignity of all people. Indeed, we welcome our human rights dialogue with China, which we began this month and which I look forward to continuing.
Across all these areas, our relationship with China is guided by the recognition that we live in an interconnected world. As I said during my visit to China while standing beside President Hu in the Great Hall where you gather today, one country’s success need not come at the expense of another. Our progress can be shared. Indeed, the United States welcomes China as a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations.
A truly comprehensive relationship, however, cannot be between governments alone. It must also be between our people. That is why my visit to China included a discussion with young men and women in Shanghai, and it is why we are working to deepen the ties between Americans and Chinese through educational and cultural exchanges.
As you meet in Beijing, the people of Shanghai are hosting the World Expo, which reflects the strength and creativity of China and its people. There, at the USA Pavilion, the United States is proud to showcase the spirit that has always defined our country, including our belief that we can join with other nations to build a better life for our children.
This is the spirit that brings our countries together in Beijing and the spirit that must guide our work as we deepen our positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship. Thank you for participating in this Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and we look forward to welcoming you to the United States for our meeting next year and to continuing our progress.
Overall I thought Obama’s remark to be short, sweet, and straight to the point. I want to point out however one particular passage about human rights. Recently the U.S. and China has partcipated in a renewed round of human rights talk. The talks allegedly focused on discussions of freedom of religion, rule of law, rights of dissidents, etc.
I agree with Obama that talks that focus on “human rights that are universal and to the dignity of all people” would be helpful. But does anyone really believe the purpose of these talks is actually to enlighten Chinese leaders, or that American government officials offer a fountain of such wisdom? If the “human rights” espouced by American leaders are truly “universal,” why are there so few takers – when the good stuffs are available for free – around the world? My personal take is that these talks are a total waste of time – more to placate American ideological vanity than anything else. Ordinary Chinese people do not need the help of U.S. bureaucrats to lecture to Chinese leaders about what “human rights” Chinese people need.
As for Obama’s remark that the relationship between China and U.S. in the end can only be as strong as that between peoples of China and America, I completely agree. And in that context, I am a little troubled and disappointed at the progress made thus far. My gut feeling is that the people in China today are much more open-minded and understand more about the American way of life than the other way around. Part of the reason is the American media. Despite so-called freedom of the press, America’s press have not managed to try to reach out to understand China’s experiences and to translate that experience to the American people. Instead most journalists seem to prefer staying ignorant about China or actually enjoy smearing China.
Still the future looks bright. Those who want to learn more about the Chinese experience – I’d advise going to live in China for a while. If you live there 2-3 years, learn the Chinese language, mingle with average Chinese, and travel throughout China – you can come back as a real ambassador who can deepen the bonds between the Amercan and Chinese people. However, don’t say I didn’t warn you: you may have your work cut out for you upon your return when you see how myopic, vain, distorted the views of some Americans can be!