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High-level dialogue vital to ties
By Diao Ying and Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-12-06 08:29

Top officials from both sides of the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) expressed hope that the incoming Obama administration would continue the highest-level economic dialogue between China and the United States, as the semiannual mechanism ended its fifth two-day session on Friday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) meets with United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 5, 2008. [Xinhua] 

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao both congratulated US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for the "tremendous achievements" of the latest dialogue during their separate meetings with the special representative of US President George W. Bush, after the session ended at noon on Friday.

"Over the past two years, the five rounds of SED talks reached 189 agreements, with 40 alone during the fifth dialogue," Wen told Paulson and dozens of senior officials from both sides.

"The decision to establish the SED mechanism was indeed a visionary and productive one."

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At a later meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Hu told Paulson he hoped the two sides could summarize the experience from previous SED talks and "go on building a high-level dialogue mechanism".

Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, Paulson's counterpart at the talks, expressed a similar hope at a joint press conference, saying that China hoped to "continue the candid and pragmatic dialogue with the new US administration".

The US side echoed the suggestions.

"The SED mechanism has helped keep relations progressing and moving forward during tough times, and helped us manage tensions that inevitably occurred," Paulson told Hu.

The mechanism had been "especially useful" during the last few months as both sides tried to deal with the financial crisis, he said.

"The United States is now undergoing our own transition, and the US-China economic relationship will continue to be vital to the health of our two economies and the global economy," Paulson said in his closing remarks.

The fifth SED focused on cooperation in addressing the current global financial turmoil and in facing key energy and environmental challenges.

At the joint conference, Wang said the two countries were committed to tackling the current international financial maelstrom and that the most urgent task now is to stop the current crisis from turning into a global economic recession. Paulson said the US welcomed recent Chinese measures to strengthen domestic demand and maintain economic growth.

As the most important economic powers in the world, the two sides agreed to maintain close communication on macroeconomic policies, and remain committed to adopting policies that ensure the stability of financial markets.

The two countries signed the Eco-Partnership Framework on Thursday, after a related 10-year framework was signed in June in Washington during the previous SED session.

With financial reform reportedly a major concern for both sides, the two agreed this time on bond trading and increasing liquidity for foreign banks, which is expected to result in a further opening of China's financial services sector.

Another key area of discussion at this session of the SED was investment and trade. Both countries vowed to combat protectionism and push forward the Doha round of trade talks by trying to reach an agreement on modalities by the end of this year.

In another development, State Councilor Dai Bingguo will visit the United States from Dec 10 to 17 to co-chair the sixth China-US Strategic Dialogue with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Friday.

The dialogue was launched in August 2005 in accordance with the consensus of the two heads of state.