The two-day talks in Beijing, called the Strategic and Economic
Dialogue, will be an opportunity for the world's two biggest
economies to dial down tensions after months of bickering over a
host of issues, experts have said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
chair the U.S. delegation, with Vice Premier Wang Yang and top
diplomat Yang Jiechi leading the Chinese side.
President Xi Jinping said Sino-U.S. cooperation was of vital
importance to the global community.
"China-U.S. confrontation, to the two countries and the world, would
definitely be a disaster," he told the opening ceremony at a
government guesthouse in the west of the city.
"We should mutually respect and treat each other equally, and
respect the others sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect
each others choice on the path of development."
Escalating tensions between China and some countries in the South
China Sea and with Japan in the East China Sea as well as U.S.
charges over hacking and Internet spying have provoked ire on both
sides of the Pacific in recent months.
In a statement released as the discussions began, U.S. President
Barack Obama said the United States was committed to building a "new
model" of relations with China that is defined by cooperation and
the constructive management of differences.
"The United States welcomes the emergence of a stable, peaceful, and
prosperous China," Obama said. "We remain determined to ensure that
cooperation defines the overall relationship."
Despite deeply interconnected business ties and two-way trade worth
more than half a trillion dollars a year, Beijing and Washington
have deep differences over everything from human rights to the value
of the Chinese currency, the yuan.
Washington has begun to push for China to move to a market-driven
"We support China's efforts to allow the market to play a more
decisive role in the economy and rely more on household consumption
to drive China's economic growth. Moving to a market-determined
exchange rate will be a crucial step," Lew said at the opening
Critics say China artificially suppresses the value of the yuan to
protect its exporters, an accusation China has always denied.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said that China needed to find the
right speed in its financial reforms.
"If reforms go too fast, we could be bogged down in details and make
fatal mistakes in China's reforms and opening up. If it's too slow,
China's reform process could be affected and the United States ...
will put pressure (on China)," he added.
The annual talks, now in their fifth year, have yielded few
substantive agreements, in part because relations have grown more
complex with China's increasing military, diplomatic and economic
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Still, U.S. officials have underscored the importance of the
discussions to help ensure the relationship doesn't drift towards
Xi said both countries should strengthen cooperation in fighting
terror and speed up talks on a bilateral investment treaty to reach
an agreement at an early date.
The United States hopes the treaty will loosen Chinese restrictions
to allow for a more level playing field for U.S. companies in China.
Chinese officials say they hope it will help drive China's own
At the talks, Kerry will raise growing U.S. concerns over China's
"problematic behavior" in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said
Washington has not taken sides in any disputes but has been critical
of China's behavior in the potentially energy-rich South China Sea,
where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have
overlapping territorial claims with China.
Beijing, though, views the United States as encouraging Vietnam and
the Philippines to be more aggressive in the dispute, and of backing
its security ally Japan in a separate spat over uninhabited islands
in the East China Sea.
Kerry reiterated that the United States was not seeking to "contain"
"We welcome the emergence of a peaceful, stable, prosperous China
that contributes to the stability and development of the region, and
chooses to play a responsible role in world affairs," he said.
"We have a profound stake in each others success," Kerry added. "I
can tell you that we are determined to choose the path of peace and
prosperity and cooperation, and yes, even competition, but not
(Additional reporting by Kevin Yao; Writing by Ben Blanchard;
Editing by Dean Yates and Jeremy Laurence)
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