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Talks take on global dimension
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Restoring global confidence and preventing the current financial crisis from spreading, especially to developing countries, are key tasks facing the world now, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan told top officials from China and US yesterday.

China hopes the US stabilizes its financial market to ensure the safety of its assets there; and Beijing would like to work with Washington to revive the health of the international financial system, Wang said at the opening ceremony of the fifth Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue, a two-day event that began in Beijing yesterday.

Initiated by President Hu Jintao and US President George W. Bush in late 2006, the SED mechanism brings together high-profile officials from the two major economies to foster direct engagement and work on critical issues of mutual interest to promote bilateral economic relations.

Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson greet each other at a signing ceremony during the Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing yesterday. [Yang Shizhong]

However, as the world faces unprecedented economic uncertainty, the ongoing SED session has expanded its remit to deal with the global risks.

"For the first time during an SED, the US and China will focus on how we can work together through international forums to strengthen the global economic system," said US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who leads the US delegation.

Wang said China has made important contributions to the global economy by keeping its economic growth steady, adopting pro-active fiscal and monetary policies, and raising domestic demand.

"We appreciate the responsible role China has played during the turmoil. We welcome China's active participation," Paulson said.

The current meeting will focus on the building blocks for an enduring US-China economic partnership, according to Paulson. Apart from managing macroeconomic risks and promoting balanced growth, the two sides will also work on open investment and trade policies, product and food safety, and energy and environment issues.

The US has strengths in energy and the environment while China has a huge demand for the technologies, so "the two countries need to work closely in these sectors," said Wang.

The two sides signed the 10-Year Framework at the last SED meeting held in June in Washington; and at this session, they signed seven deals on ecological partnership.

Wang said the two countries are against protectionism and said they hope the expected re-start of the Doha round of global trade talks to bear fruit.

The two sides expect to reach deliverables in five areas through this session, including electricity generation, transportation, clean water, clean air, and protecting wetlands and other natural areas, said Paulson.

This will be the final SED meeting for Paulson, who said: "We are committed to a strong finish, to having perhaps our most productive and cooperative session to date.

"We have learned that engagement works, that engagement can help achieve meaningful, tangible results that would not have been possible otherwise," he said.

The two sides also discussed the valuation of yuan. The US side acknowledged China's efforts to make the yuan more flexible against the dollar in the past three years since the Chinese currency was de-pegged from the greenback.

(China Daily December 5, 2008)

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