US, China to shape 21st century: Obama

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama said today that the relationship between the United States and China will shape the history of the 21st century.

Obama, speaking at the start of two days of high-level talks between the two countries, said Washington and Beijing needed to forge closer ties to address a host of challenges from lifting the global economy out of a deep recession to nuclear proliferation.

Vice Premier Wang Qishan, China’s top economic policy-maker, said his country’s attempt to create a more open economy would help US recovery efforts and lead to stronger bilateral ties. China intends to make further changes to open its economy, which, he said, is stabilizing thanks to aggressive action in Beijing.

The discussions in Washington represent the continuation of a dialogue begun by the Bush administration, which focused on economic tensions between the two nations. Obama chose to expand the talks to include foreign policy issues as well as economic disputes.

Top officials from both countries have called the relationship crucial to solving many of the world’s crises. The Obama administration hopes the talks can set the groundwork for cooperation on climate change, lifting the world economy out of turmoil and addressing nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran.

Obama said he was under “no illusions that the United States and China will agree on every issue,” but he said closer cooperation in important areas was critical for the world.