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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Background Readout by Senior Administration Officials on President Obama's Meeting with Chinese President Hu

April 5, 2009

eNews Park Forest (ENEWSPF)
Written by Press Release
Source: whitehouse.gov
April 1, 2009

London, United Kingdom, (ENEWSPF) --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’ll just start
briefly by saying the President accepted an
invitation to visit China sometime in the later
half of this year. And we’ll go from there.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. Well,
this was the first time they met. They had spoken
on the phone for a couple times after the
election and inauguration. I’d say that the high
points were that they agreed on a
characterization of the relationship as a
positive – building a positive, cooperative and
comprehensive relationship for the 21st century.
As you know, there have been characterizations in
the past; this is the one that is agreed upon here.

They announced the establishment of the Strategic
and Economic Dialogue, which will be headed on
the U.S. side by Secretary Clinton and Secretary
Geithner. On the Chinese side, it will be headed
by Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Counselor Dai Bingguo.

They discussed a broad range of issues. I’ll just
list them at the outset and we’ll get into
greater depth as you wish. They discussed
bilateral relations, including military –
military-to-military relations. They discussed
the economy – domestic economy and the
international economy. They discussed a range of
international issues -- notably North Korea,
Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan. They also
discussed human rights in Tibet and Taiwan.
Climate change was also mentioned. Am I missing
anything? That’s, I think, the whole list. And we
can get into greater depth on these as you wish.

Q Did global currency come up at all?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was not raised.

Q The President has been talking about resetting
the relationship with Russia. How does he want to
approach China differently than the Bush
administration? Obviously one difference is the
Strategic and Economic Dialogue is different from
the Strategic Economic Dialogue established in
the Bush administration. Could you talk about the
differences with the Bush administration in the
approach, but also why did you decide to broaden out this dialogue in this way?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I’d rather
just characterize President Obama’s approach to
the relationship rather than getting into
comparisons. I mean, you are right that the
Strategic and Economic Dialogue is a new
mechanism, and that is one obvious point of
comparison than under President Bush. The
economic dialogue was at the Cabinet level with
Secretary Paulson whereas the political dialogue
was at a lower level. Now that has been raised.

I would say that President Obama’s approach on
China is marked by pragmatism, by a
non-ideological approach, a belief that this is a
critical relationship for addressing and
resolving global issues, starting with the
international economic and financial crisis, but
also things like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and
Afghanistan and climate change. The President
said that none of these issues are going to be
resolved if the U.S. and China don’t work
together. He recognized that China in the last
decade has greatly increased its own strength and
its own role in the world, and he looks to build
a relationship with China where China works
cooperatively with us to resolve these international issues.

If you go back 10 years, China was a much -- go
back to the beginning of the Bush administration,
China was a much smaller player on these issues
than it is now. So now the goal is to engage
China’s – China constructively to resolve these issues.

Q Could you go into a little more depth on the
North Korea subject, especially with regard to the missile launch plans?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I can say a
little more about our position and what we said.
In terms of the Chinese, you want to speak to the
Chinese. But we’re – the President made clear
we’re deeply concerned about the prospective
missile launch by the North Koreans. They call it
a satellite launch, but that’s a distinction, not
a difference; it’s the same technology. But this
is provocative to the region and contrary to U.N.
Security Council resolutions. And there will be a
reaction. There will be a reaction to it.

Q Can you say what the reaction is?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we -- there
are U.N. Security Council resolutions, so we -- I
expect that we will be talking in the U.N.
Security Council about how to respond.

We want to see the six-party talks continue, and
North Korea has been engaged in lots of actions
over the last few months that have prevented that
process from continuing. We’d like to see it continue.

Q Thank you.

Q This change to the Strategic and Economic
Dialogue, I think I understand what that means,
but I’m trying to decide how I would explain that
to my mom or, you know, my friends. Is there –
can you sort of maybe be really plain in what the
impact of doing something like that is, what it means?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the goal
of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue is to try
to sort of build a common approach on sort of the
major issues in the relationship. It’s about
communication at a high level. It’s not a
short-term problem-solving mechanism, like, for
example, the Joint Commission on Commerce and
Trade, which will continue, and it’s also the
highlight. But that is designed to address
specific concerns, specific problems in the commercial sector.

This dialogue mechanism I think is more about
trying to have more in-depth discussions on both
the political and economic side so we understand
each other’s way of thinking better and build
over the long term serious solutions to problems.
When we have the meeting, we’re not going to come
out of the meeting, I suspect, and say here’s how
we resolved this or that issue. It’s more of a
long-term process, and the strategic issues will
include global issues, like – you know, we still
have to work out an agenda on it, so I don’t want
to get ahead of the agenda. But it will include
global issues as well as regional points of tension.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just say a
few words. You know, the leaders started – the
President started today by acknowledging how
important our economic interactions have become,
both in terms of trade and investment, and saying
that they want that to be an important part of
our relationship and for it to grow in a healthy
way. And so the Strategic Economic Dialogue
portion is a way to talk about how we can make
sure that happens. And if there are subjects that
have to do with our respective roles in the
international financial system, then we can discuss those.

So it’s really a forum in which, at a very high
level, one can take a longer-term perspective and
make sure that together we’re taking the leadership role that we want to have.

Q I guess I’m just trying to understand, because
I would presume with a nation as strategically
important as China – obviously the Secretary of
State, the Secretary of the Treasury is going to
have a pipeline with their counterparts and be in
discussions, visit with them, meetings with them
all the time. So why do you -- what is important
about this particular mechanism?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: One thing that’s
important about it is you get uninterrupted time,
and much longer time than you would in the course
of a simple bilateral visit, where you might get
a 45-minute meeting or a one-hour meeting in
which you can go over an enormous array of issues.

This is -- again, we haven’t worked out the exact
agenda yet, but this will be presumably a day or
two. So it will be much more in depth. There also
will be a cross-cutting character to the
discussions. There will be people from different
agencies, many different agencies on both sides
in the room. You need to understand, the Chinese
system is quite stovepiped -- different agencies
have difficulty talking to each other. It’s not
that easy on our side, but it’s almost impossible
on the Chinese side. And this is a mechanism
that’s designed to break down those barriers, get
a lot of different people from different agencies in the room.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And having
everyone together has an advantage for us, as
well, that, you know, we can consider the
different aspects of our relationship with China
in a holistic way. Certainly as we can see in
this crisis, economic issues affect our security
interests and security issues affect our economic
interests. So this is a way to have a
comprehensive dialogue with them where you’re not
separating necessarily the two sides -- you can
really take a broad look at all the things that
we want to try to accomplish together.

Q So forgive me if this is a dumb question, but
this is sort of -- this is like - as you said,
this is a one- or two-day thing that you do over,
you know, repeated intervals over time?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It is expected to
be annual, and the first meeting will be in
Washington. We’re still working on the dates.

Q Okay. Broad range, maybe?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Broad range. I
would say summer is a rough target. But we’ve
still got to clear some calendars on both sides.

Q Great.

Q I just quickly want to follow up on Hans’s
question about the global currency. You said that
issue didn’t come up. But did the issue of
currencies in general come up? That seems to be an issue that always comes up –

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it didn’t
come up. I’d be happy to go through -- on the
economic side they talked about the relationship,
the trade and investment relationship and the
importance of building on that. They talked about
the G20, and both expressed a mutually expressed
satisfaction that each side has been taking
stimulus action. They both talked about the
importance of improving the regulatory system in
the world and that that was important to both countries.

They spoke about the need to strengthen the
resource base of the International Monetary Fund
and to see that the World Bank and multilateral
development banks would have the resources to lend, as well.

So the discussion was more in the context of the
G20 set of issues that are being discussed.

Q What about the imbalances between the two
countries and the fact that China has this huge surplus and the United States –

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Really the focus
was on the fact that we had things in common,
that our economies had both slowed, that we are
both in the process of implementing very
significant stimulus plans. Each side explained
what they were doing and the goals they had in
mind, and just expressing the importance that we,
together, stimulate our economies and get growth going.

Q Thank you.

Q What was the discussion surrounding Sudan? Can
you also explain what they talked about in terms
of human rights in Tibet and Taiwan?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the
President expressed his concern about the
humanitarian situation in Darfur, and the –
Khartoum’s decision to expel the NGOs, so that,
you know, that innocent people should not be
bearing the consequences of what Khartoum is
doing and that we should find ways to get the
NGOs back and to get assistance to people who need it.

Q And did the President -- did President Hu make
any representations or agreements on that point?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He made
representations exactly on those lines, yes.

Q I’m talking about President Hu.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, President Hu.
I’d rather not get into what the Chinese said. I
think that’s really up to the Chinese to characterize what they said.

Q And could you also talk about the human rights issue in Tibet?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Tibet was
discussed. The President made clear that we’re
going to not only talk about things on which we
agree, but also things on which we disagree, that
we care deeply about human rights and
(inaudible). And he made clear our concerns about
human rights in Tibet and our hope that China
would make progress and (inaudible).

Q The Chinese naval mooning episode, where the
two ships came awfully close last month, was that discussed at all?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:
Military-to-military relations were discussed and
President Obama referred to the episode, yes.

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