China is acknowledging, but playing down, its disputes with the United States, saying the two countries should cooperate based on shared interests. The comments come ahead of President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington next week.
At a wide-ranging news conference Wednesday, Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai stressed that China believes its relationship with the United States is one of the most important in the world.
Cui says the China-U.S. relationship has become, in his words, "more strategic in terms of substance and more important in terms of global impact"” He says despite frictions and differences, Sino-American cooperation has always been guided by common interests.
He says China shares "broad common interests and goals" with the United States on Korean peninsula issues, and repeated calls to restart talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
Cui says Korea will certainly be on the agenda when President Hu Jintao meets President Obama at the White House next week. He says they also will discuss economic cooperation to help the world cope with the global financial crisis.
He also indicated that Beijing is concerned about the U.S. dollar, by saying China would welcome a U.S. statement of assurance on the security of Chinese dollar holdings. China holds about a $1 trillion dollars in U.S. Treasury securities. A weak dollar reduces the value of those holdings.
The vice minister noted that human rights is one area of disagreement - especially regarding the case of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Cui says the two countries have different priorities in upholding and protecting human rights, and face different national circumstances.
He also downplayed reports of Chinese concerns about the U.S. presence in Asia. He credited the stability and strong economic growth in the region to decades of stable relations between Beijing and Washington, and China’s economic reforms.
Cui says China respects and understands U.S. interests in the region, but also hopes Washington will fully respect and understand Beijing’s interests.
With a week to go before President Hu is to visit the White House, Cui says details of the trip are still being hammered out. But he said the Chinese leader will give a speech on Sino-American relations when he is in the United States, although an exact time and location have not yet been determined.