The China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) is to some extent equivalent to making an official commitment twice a year by the two countries to open their domestic markets to each other.
The world would lose its groundwork for economic openness if China and the US, as the world's largest developing and developed country respectively, shut their doors to each other.
In this sense, the two countries should carry on the high-level economic dialogue, and more importantly, should reach a consensus on some key issues through the mechanism.
The successful conclusion of the two-day fourth round of the SED in Annapolis, Maryland, last Wednesday, has made it possible for the momentum of economic globalization to continue.
That is why US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who co-chaired the dialogue with Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, made a statement, saying that it does not matter if the US and China do not always agree with each other on economic issues, and even if they sometimes stand far apart on some issues. On the contrary, he believed, what does count is continuous dialogue between the two countries, because that would help keep the world's most important and most complicated bilateral relations stable.
The dialogue mechanism, initiated by President Hu Jintao and US President George W Bush in 2006, is not expected to change even in the post-Paulson era, no matter whether a Democrat or a Republican assumes the US presidency.
Different from the previous ones, the fourth round of the dialogue was conducted under the background of a weak dollar policy the US has continuously maintained. Thus, throughout the dialogue the concern from the Chinese side over the weak dollar overweighed the US demand for Beijing to marketize its RMB exchange rate and revalue the yuan.
A member of the Chinese delegation, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, accused the US of letting devaluation of the dollar stay, saying such a policy had fuelled the prices of crude oil and other bulk commodities to rocket. This, he said, has provoked global inflation and harmed developing countries.
Now the key issue facing China and the US is not the former deliberately keeping its RMB exchange rate low, but that the two countries should work together to deal with the global inflation crisis induced by the weak dollar. Another thorny task China and the US have encountered is how to overcome waves of economic conservatism that has gained ground.
This was pointed out in a straightforward way by Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, who led the Chinese delegation to the US as special representative of President Hu Jintao, in an impromptu speech on the evening of last Wednesday.