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US treasury chief starts China visit
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner arrived in Beijing Sunday afternoon, hoping to steer a closer relationship with China under the new U.S. era.

This is Geithner's first visit to the country since taking office in January, though he studied Mandarin at Beijing universities in the 1980s.

Geithner is also the first U.S. cabinet member to visit Beijing since Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama first met in April and agreed on building a "positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship for the 21st century."

"We have an obligation to make sure that as we fix the crisis, we are putting in place a better foundation for a more balanced and sustained world recovery," Geithner said before his departure.

Geither is expected to meet with Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice Premier Wang Qishan, as well as deliver a speech at the Peking University.

Geithner and Chinese leaders will discuss how to "strengthen U.S.-China economic ties to promote stable, balanced and sustained economic growth in the two nations," said the U.S. Treasury Department in a statement.

"Geithner comes to pave the way for the first China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington D.C. this summer," according to the Chinese diplomatic source.

The new dialogue mechanism came out of the Hu-Obama meeting in London. Its strategic track will be chaired by Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while its economic track will be chaired by Wang and Geithner, as special representatives of their respective presidents.

Geithner's was the latest in a spate of visits by U.S. officials to China this week.

The first visitor was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who arrived at the financial hub of Shanghai last Sunday before touring the country's capital Beijing and northern metropolis of Tianjin.

Her week-long visit marked a trend that analysts said "was driven by a positive momentum between the two government."

"It signified that amid the global economic downturn, the U.S. legislature is putting aside some ideological differences and working with the Obama administration for a stronger China relationship," said Yuan Peng, director of America Studies of China Institute for Contemporary International Relations.

Following Pelosi's suit, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations John Kerry came to China to seek cooperation on climate change.

Democratic Representative Rick Larsen and Republican Representative Mark Kirk, the co-chairs of the congressional US-China Working Group, also came to China to discuss issues related to pulling the world economy out of its slump.

China and the United States are also keeping close communication on hot-button issues.

On Monday, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration had discussions with China's special representative for Darfur Liu Guijin,agreeing to better resolve the Sudan Darfur issue.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg is leading a U.S. delegation to Asia to consult regional players on how to respond to Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s latest nuclear test. Steinberg will visit China this week, together with U.S. envoy to the six-party talks Stephen Bosworth.

"All these visits highlight the greater attention the United States has paid to China, which is playing an increasingly important part in the facing the economic slump, nuclear challenge and climate threat," Yuan said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2009)

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