Speeches: The Strategic & Economic Dialogue / Consultation on People-to-People Exchange — Remarks at the Joint Banquet

SECRETARY LEW: Good evening, everyone. And on behalf of the U.S. delegation, I’d like to welcome Vice Premier Liu, Vice President[i] Wang, State Councilor Yang, all the members of the Chinese delegation, our U.S. colleagues, distinguished guests to the seventh U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. It’s an honor for us to host you here today in our nation’s capital.

Yesterday we had valuable discussions at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. I’ll also note that yesterday was an important holiday in China: the Dragon Boat Festival that celebrates one of China’s greatest poets, Qu Yuan. Though he predated them by nearly 2,000 years, he shared many of the admirable qualities of our forefathers. President Washington was a visionary, and soon after America’s independence, he was instrumental in getting a United States trade ship to sail for China – to China for the first time.

Today the economic ties between our two countries are deep. We are the two largest economies in the world. And when we move forward together in the spirit of admiration, cooperation, and respect, it benefits people everywhere.

Of course, a relationship between great powers will face challenges. And when we have a chance to discuss these differences in an open and candid way, we can find common ground and reach solutions for the common good.

In the early years of this new century, our two nations share a great responsibility: a responsibility to lift people out of poverty, usher in peace and stability, and protect our planet for future generations. And the United States and China are now poised to march into the future together as friends and partners.

In the spirit of that friendship and partnership, let me propose a toast. Example, George Washington once wrote, has a powerful influence. To Vice Premier Liu, Vice Premier Wang, State Councilor Yang, and the members of the Chinese delegation, and to all of my colleagues in the U.S. delegation, may our discussions over the next few days be the example that leads to a stronger relationship between our two countries and a more prosperous world. Ganbei.

SECRETARY KERRY: Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the State Department. We’re going to have consecutive flowing toasts here. We’re delighted to welcome you to the Ben Franklin Room. This is our primary entertainment room for the State Department, and we’re really delighted that so many of you have come to join us tonight and to join our distinguished delegation. Vice Premier Liu, thank you for being with us here. Vice Premier Wang, thank you very much, and State Councilor Yang.

Ben Franklin was a very interesting fellow, folks, and his huge interest in China – he called it the wisest of nations. And his huge interest in China brought him to study the cultivation of the (inaudible) silkworm, ship-building, candle-making, and home heating. And believe it or not, the Franklin stove was actually based on ideas about combustion from China. So you can see that intellectual property was a big deal several centuries ago, folks. (Laughter.)

This relationship is indeed if not the most consequential, certainly one of the most consequential relationships in the world today. It can possibly – and if done properly, we hope – define the 21st century. Represented here are two extraordinarily creative nations, nations of doers, nations of people who are always ready to honor the pursuit of education and always ready to push the curve of discovery. And indeed, all of China’s history is written in that, and all of the history of the United States is written in that.

It now falls on us at the dawn of this century to be in a position to make enormous choices of consequence that will impact all of the rest of the world. In counterterrorism, in global climate change, in global health, in infrastructure investment and development, in the development goals for 2015 and beyond, and in many other ways, what we can find as our cooperative path is going to do more to have an impact on other nations than perhaps any other choices any other nations make. That’s not an exaggeration and it is not said with any arrogance at all; it’s said with humility and with a sense of responsibility. And I think it’s fair to say that it is that sense of responsibility that has guided us in our conversations last night at Mount Vernon and today, and will guide us tomorrow, and particularly in the meeting that we will have with President Obama.

In a few short months, President Xi will make an historic visit to the United States for a state visit, and we have high expectations that that visit can help us to define this road ahead. We have cooperated quite extraordinarily on climate change. And as I mentioned this morning, only three or four years ago it was unthinkable that China and the United States would actually be sitting, cooperating, and working together to deal with it rather than divided as we were over Kyoto, over Copenhagen, over hopeless numbers of conference of parties through the years. Now we are partners leading the world in an effort to get a successful agreement out of Paris.

On Ebola, China stepped up in an unprecedented way and joined us in helping to prevent the million of people that were predicted to die by January of last year because we all took a risk and went in and made a difference. On infrastructure, we are now talking about partnering together on development issues in Africa and elsewhere.

So indeed, we have huge opportunities, even as we are honest enough to acknowledge to each other, yes, we also have some differences. Today we talked as honestly and directly as you can about those with a clear determination by all of us to build on the vision expressed by President Xi for a Chinese dream, and of course, a vision that has been expressed since the Great Depression in our country for the American dream. If we can meld those dreams and do the things that China and the United States are capable of, then I am confident that the history we write of this century will be one that is worthy and that we can be proud of.

So I ask everybody to join me in drinking to prosperity, to peace, and to partnership between China and the United States. Ganbei. So please enjoy. We’ll have some wonderful piano entertainment a little later. We’re privileged to have a wonderful pianist here, and I hope everybody will enjoy the dinner. Thank you.

[i] Premier

Human Rights