Ties with China important: US

Through November 2011, US merchandise exports to China totalled USD 94.2 billion, up 11.5 percent year-on-year.

Updated: Jan 19, 2012, 16:44 PM IST

Beijing: The US embassy in Beijing said on Thursday that the relationship between China and the US is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.

"We have demonstrated the depth and breadth of this relationship by the number of high-level visits, consultations on a range of pressing global issues, cooperative partnerships, and the sheer number of people who travelled between our two countries for tourism, work, and study," said US embassy press secretary Richard Buangan while briefing reporters on the development of bilateral ties in 2011.

The diplomat highlighted the frequency with which the Chinese and US heads of state met as a positive achievement in 2011, said Xinhua.

At the beginning of last year, President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to the US, where Hu and US President Barack Obama agreed to establish a partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, setting the tone for China-US ties.

"Following President Hu`s state visit, our leaders met several more times throughout 2011, each time re-committing themselves to the importance of this relationship and to broadening our engagement so that we do not lose sight of our shared vision for a better world for our children and grandchildren," Buangan said.

He told reporters that the embassy last year hosted no fewer than six Cabinet-level officials, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and dozens of members of the US Congress, "as a reflection of the importance that the US government places on our relationship".

The US embassy in Beijing is the second-largest US embassy in the world, according to the embassy`s press secretary.

Buangan said the two countries` trade relationship grew in 2011, with China`s "impressive" economic growth contributing to global economic recovery.

Through November 2011, US merchandise exports to China totalled USD 94.2 billion, up 11.5 percent year-on-year, according to the embassy.

"We welcome China`s continued economic growth because, as the facts show, a prosperous China is good for the US economy," Buangan said.

"It creates American jobs and it fuels worldwide economic growth," he added.

As Chinese become more and more prosperous, they are travelling to the US in record numbers.

"The Chinese demand for US visas is currently growing at a rate of 35 percent per year, and this growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future," Buangan said.

"Last December we processed our one millionth visa application, which makes us the second US diplomatic mission in the world to do so," said the diplomat.

US Department of Commerce figures estimate that the number of first-time Chinese travellers to the US will triple in the next five years.

"Our broad and multi-faceted engagement with China will continue in 2012 as we seek to increase people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation between our two countries," Buangan said.

"We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts to advance the common good of our people and the common interests of our two great nations," he said.

Buangan added that in spite of disagreements, the two sides are committed to working together "to tackle the broad range of complex issues that involve not just the future of our two countries, but indeed the entire world".

IANS