Chinese President seeks `common ground` with US

Hu Jintao acknowledges that "sensitive" issues persist between US and China.

Updated: Jan 17, 2011, 10:17 AM IST

Washington: Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday sought common ground with the US as he prepared to embark on a visit to Washington, though he acknowledged that "differences" and "sensitive" issues persist between the two countries.

In written responses to questions from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal published yesterday, Hu insisted that his country believes in the principle of peaceful co-existence, as he prepared to meet his counterpart Barack Obama at the White House next week.

"There is no denying that there are some differences and sensitive issues between us," Hu said.

But he asserted that "we both stand to gain from a sound China-US relationship, and lose from confrontation". To follow the path of peaceful development, he said, is a solemn commitment of the Chinese government and people to the international community.

"It is a policy that we will always adhere to. Specifically, it means that we will achieve national development by our hard and creative work, by reforming and improving our institutions, and by maintaining friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries," Hu said.

China, he said, has been committed to the independent foreign policy of peace as also to defending its territorial integrity and development interests.

"We stand for equality and mutual respect between countries. Like other countries in the world, China must uphold its own sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests," he said.

Hu said China has developed friendship and cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

"At the same time, we are willing to properly handle differences and disagreements in state-to-state relations in accordance with the basic norms governing international relations and the principle of mutual understanding, mutual accommodation, dialogue and consultation," he said.

He said the relations between China and other Asia-Pacific countries, including the US and its Asian neighbours, have grown steadily.

"Mutual trust between China and other countries in this region has deepened in our common response to tough challenges, and our cooperation has continuously expanded in our pursuit of mutual benefit and win-win outcomes.”

"At present, relations between China and other Asia-Pacific countries face unprecedented opportunities. China is ready to work with other countries to seize opportunities, meet challenges and promote peace and development in the region and beyond," said the Chinese President. Hu said since the beginning of the 21st century, thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, China-US relationship has on the whole enjoyed steady growth.

"Since President Obama took office, we have maintained close contact through exchange of visits, meetings, telephone conversations and letters. We agreed to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-US relationship for the 21st century and together, we instituted the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues mechanism," he said.

"Over the past two years, China and the US have carried out practical cooperation in a wide range of areas including economy and trade, energy, the environment, culture, counterterrorism and law enforcement," the Chinese President said.

The two countries have maintained close contact and coordination in dealing with major international and regional hotspot issues and addressing global challenges, such as climate change and the international financial crisis.

The strategic significance and global impact of China-US relations have been on the rise, he said.

Observing that China and the US have major influence in international affairs and shoulder important responsibilities in upholding world peace and promoting common development, he said under the new circumstances, the common interests of our two countries have been growing and areas of cooperation expanding.

"There is great potential for our mutually beneficial cooperation both in advancing Asia-Pacific regional cooperation and in improving global economic governance and promoting sustainable growth of the world economy; both in expanding cooperation in economy and trade and in strengthening cooperation in new areas like new energy sources, clean energy, infrastructure development and aviation and space; and both in fighting terrorism and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and in meeting challenges like natural disasters, food security and major communicable diseases," he said.

"We both stand to gain from a sound China-US relationship, and lose from confrontation. We should act in the fundamental interests of our two peoples and uphold the overall interests of world peace and development," Hu said.

He said that both the countries should rise up to challenges, remove disturbances, work for shared goals and promote continuous growth of our relations.

For which he suggested four points. "First, we should increase dialogue and contact and enhance strategic mutual trust. Second, we should abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality, view each other`s development in an objective and sensible way, respect each other`s choice of development path, and pursue common development through win-win cooperation," Hu said.

"Third, we should respect each other`s sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests and properly address each other`s major concerns.”

“And fourth, we should make constant efforts to expand our converging interests so that China and the US will be partners for cooperation in broader areas,” he said.