Byline: Sean Lengell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Obama administration hosted top Chinese officials Monday for the start of two days of talks Washington hopes will steady China's confidence in the dollar and restore some balance to the lopsided U.S. trade deficit with Beijing.
Public dialogue on both sides centered on the countries' special bond as two of the world's economic superpowers - sidestepping contentious issues of currency, trade and the growing U.S. budget deficit.
The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world, President Obama said during the summit's opening ceremonies at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center three blocks from the White House. That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, striving to ease the fears of Chinese investors who have acquired hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. debt, said the administration is determined to ensure the U.S. economy remains among the world's strongest.
We have taken steps to repair our financial system and strengthen financial regulation, he said. Savings are up and our external deficit has fallen, and we are committed to .. reducing the federal deficit to a sustainable level by 2013
Mr. Geithner's promise to place the deficit on a sustainable path appears consistent with the administration's May budget, when it promised to slash the deficit from $1.8 trillion to $512 billion by 2013.
Mr. Geithner, who studied in China as a college student, also said China can play a major role in reinvigorating global economic growth by continuing to encourage more consumption at home and exporting less.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also spoke at the summit's kickoff, said the United States and China should be collaborators - not competitors - on economic and strategic fronts.
Although past relations between the United States and China have been influenced by the idea of a balance of power among great nations, the fresh thinking of the 21st century can move us from a multipolar world to a multipartner world, she said.
China also accentuated the positive. Chinese President Hu Jintao, who isn't attending the summit but submitted a statement read at the opening, said the two countries shoulder important responsibilities on a host of major issues concerning peace and development of mankind.
Mr. Geithner and about a dozen Obama Cabinet-level officials met privately Monday afternoon with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and his top economic advisers. The American delegation included Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, White House chief economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag.
The summit concludes Tuesday with talks focusing on trade and investment. …