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Language, cultural exchange warm up Sino-US talk
Updated: 2009-07-28 05:59

WASHINGTON: The first round of China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue was warmed up as leaders from both countries employed each other's language and culture in their greetings and speeches on Monday.

Two representatives from each government jointly presided over the opening session at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D C, where Chinese President Hu Jintao (through his representative) and US President Barack Obama also delivered their messages to the historic event, respectively.

"Good morning and Zhongxin Huanying (Chinese pinyin for ' sincerely welcome you')," said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her opening remarks as a way to show her hospitality.

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Clinton will co-chair the "strategic track" of the dialogue with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, to address the economic recovery, climate change and clean energy as well as security challenges facing two countries.

She wrapped up her speech with a Chinese proverb "when people are of one mind and heart, they can move Mountain Tai," which is a sacred mountain in northern China near Confucius' home.

US Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, who will co-host the "Economic Track" of the dialogue with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, noted the need for the United States and China to act together amid the global economic crisis by citing in Chinese language a Chinese idiom "Taking the same boat through rain and wind."

The idiom was also printed in Chinese characters in his prepared statement.

In his address to the opening session, President Obama relaxed audience by quoting Yao Ming, a top Chinese basketball player who currently also stars American NBA.

"As a new president and also as a basketball fan, I have learned from the words of Yao Ming, who said,'No matter whether you are new or an old team member, you need time to adjust to one another,'" said the president. "Well, through the constructive meetings that we've already had, and through this dialogue, I'm confident that we will meet Yao's standard."

As his speech went towards the end, Obama cited an ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius as saying "a trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time."

"Our task is to forge a path to the future that we seek for our children -- to prevent mistrust or the inevitable differences of the moment from allowing that trail to be blocked by grass; to always be mindful of the journey that we are undertaking together, " he explained.

On China's side, State Councilor Dai stirred waves of applause and laughs across the session hall at the end of his speech when he said in English "yes, we can."

With the well-known slogan during President Obama's presidential campaign last year, he expressed confidence that China and the United States can establish the bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation for the 21st century.