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The Dean Acheson Auditorium of the Department of State was packed on Wednesday morning with senior Chinese and US officials as the two governments kick off the fifth round of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).
US Vice-President Joe Biden kicked off the opening ceremony by expressing his condolence to the two Chinese high school students killed in the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash on Saturday at the San Francisco International Airport.
He described the S&ED as "essential" to bilateral relations and called for more trust building between the two countries.
"We don't have to agree on everything, we have to trust," he said, adding that competition is good and cooperation is essential.
The speech by Biden and four co-chairs, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, have all emphasized the importance to boost cooperation and also manage differences.
Wang said the summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama a month ago reached important consensus and has pointed a clear direction for the two countries to build a new type of major country relationship.
"This round of dialogue is to turn the important consensus reached by the two heads of state into concrete achievements and to inject solid content into building the new type of major country relationship," Wang said.
The vice-premier said China is willing to conduct dialogues and listen to different voices and accept the correct ones, adding that many of the dialogues China had with the US and other countries have benefitted the country's progress.
But he said that China will not accept those voices that will shake China's fundamental system and harm its national interest.
Danny Russel, who was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday as the new assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was among many senior US officials in the audience. The public schedule of senior State Department officials on Wednesday show that most of them are involved in the S&ED.
These include both more than a dozen cabinet level officials from each side as well as some military leaders, including Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, and Samuel Locklear III, commander of the Pacific Command.
On Tuesday, China and the US also discussed issues regarding UN peacekeeping.