Mon, November 16, 2009
China > China & World > US president Obama's first Asia tour

Obama upbeat about Sino-U.S. ties, pins hope on younger generation

2009-11-16 13:09:22 GMT2009-11-16 21:09:22 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SHANGHAI, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said here Monday the U.S.-China cooperation enables both countries to be more prosperous and more secure and that young people are the best ambassadors.

Obama had a dialogue with 500-strong Chinese college students Monday afternoon in the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, a highlighted activity in the first stop of his four-day maiden trip to China since taking office in January.

He covered a wide range of topics, notably the outlook of Sino-U.S. cooperation and youth exchanges between the two countries, while delivering opening remarks and answering questions from the students and Chinese Internet users.

Obama said China is a nation that encompasses both a rich history and a belief in the promises of the future and that the same can be said of the relationship between the two countries. The Shanghai Communique signed 37 years ago opened the door to a new chapter of engagement between the governments and the people of the two countries, he said.

"Today we have a positive, constructive and comprehensive relationship that opens the door to partnership on the key global issues of our time: economic recovery, development of clean energy, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and the surge of climate change, and the promotion of peace and security in Asia and around the globe," Obama said.

"We have seen what is possible when we build on our mutual interests and engage on the basis of mutual respect."

The success of that engagement depends on understanding, on sustaining an open dialogue and learning about one another and from one another, he said.

"Our relationship has not been without disagreement and difficulties. But the notion that we must be adversaries is not predestined," Obama said, noting that the two countries "share much in common" while they are "different in certain ways."

He said one country's success need not come at the expense of another.

"That is why the United States insists we do not seek to contain China's rise; on the contrary, we welcome China as a strong and prosperous and successful member of the community of nations, a China that draws on the rights, strengths and creativity of individual Chinese like you," Obama said to the students.

Obama announced in his speech that the United States would further expand its youth exchanges with China by increasing the number of students studying in China to 100,000.

"These exchanges mark a clear commitment to build ties among our people, as surely as you will help us determine the destiny of the 21st century," he said.

He said young people in China and U.S. are the best ambassadors and that cooperation between the countries should go beyond the governments.

"I believe strongly that cooperation must grow beyond our government. It must be rooted in our people, in the studies we share, in the business we do, in the knowledge that we gain, and even in the sports we play, and these bridges must be built by men and women just like you, and your counterparts in America," Obama said.

"I am absolutely confident that America has no better ambassadors to offer than our young people, for they just like you are filled with talent, energy and optimism about the history that is yet to be written.

"So let this be the next step in the steady pursuit of cooperation between our two nations and the world," Obama said.

"If there is one thing we can take from today's dialogue, I hope that it is a commitment to continue this dialogue going forward," Obama said in his speech.

Obama said while answering a question of a student that it is vital for the U.S. and China to strengthen cooperation in dealing with the global challenge of climate change.

"There are very few global challenges that can be solved unless China and the United States agree," he said.

As the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China should assume the responsibility to curb greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

"Unless both of our countries are willing to take critical steps in dealing with this issue, we will not be able to resolve it," Obama said.

Obama called on world leaders to strike a deal at the Copenhagen conference in December during which they would possibly make differentiated commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

China should not take the same obligations as the United States since it has a much larger population fighting poverty, Obama said.

When asked by a netizen from Taiwan on the U.S. stance on Taiwan issues, Obama said his administration would continue to fully support the one-China policy and would be very pleased to see the improving cross-Strait relationship.

"I have been clear in the past the United States supports a one-China policy. We do not want to change that policy or approach...I am very pleased with the reduction of tensions and improvement of the cross-Strait relations," he said.

Obama noted it was his "deep desire and hope" that he would continue to see great improvement between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in resolving issues.

Economic and commercial ties were helping to lower a lot of tensions, he said.

Obama said economic recovery, climate change and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons would be the main topics in his upcoming talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in the capital Beijing. The development of clean energy and the promotion of peace and security in Asia would also on the list of their talks, he said.

After meeting with officials and students in Shanghai, Obama touched down in Beijing later Monday afternoon to continue his China tour. He was greeted at the airport by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice and National Security Advisor James Jones also arrived in Beijing on Monday afternoon.

During his stay in Beijing, Obama is to exchange views with Chinese leaders on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common concern, and visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, two of China's most cherished heritage sites.

China is one leg of Obama's Asian tour, following his visit to Japan and Singapore. He is set to leave Beijing for the Republic of Korea Wednesday afternoon.

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