Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi praised U.S. domestic efforts in blocking protectionist legislation against China during the opening ceremony of the 18th Sino-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) on Tuesday.
She assured the American officials in attendance that China's door would stay wide open to the outside world.
During her speech, Wu extended her appreciation on behalf of China to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who all had jointly signed an objection letter to U.S. Congress leaders.
She also thanked the 1,028 American economists who had made a joint public statement voicing their opposition and to the executives of 105 American companies who wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress leaders.
"Some unharmonious notes have been heard in the Sino-U.S. trade ties this year, marked by a sharp rise in the number of congressional legislation against China, evident politicization of economic and trade issues, strengthened control on exports to China and the purpose exaggeration of China's food and product safety," Wu said.
These had seriously damaged the reputation of China-made products and the image of China, she said.
Wu urged both sides to be far-sighted, think strategically and facilitate consultation and collaboration. "Imposing restrictions on normal trade or resorting to protective measures will be only detrimental to the interests of both sides and helpless in resolving problems."
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez described the JCCT as an "important institution" in Sino-U.S. ties, adding that the one-day meeting and the upcoming Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) could give the world confidence that the United States and China were "both committed to openness".
"Our number one desired approach is dialogue. I believe that we have made it work. The best way to address our deficit is not by reducing imports. Protectionism is something we must avoid together," he said.
U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab echoed those sentiments by regarding dialogue as "the most effective" way to solving problems and to boosting the US-China relationship.
Chinese data showed that bilateral trade volume had rocketed from less than 2.5 billion U.S. dollars when China and the United States established diplomatic relations in the late 1970s to 262.68 billion dollars in 2006.
Wu had foreseen China to be the third largest importer to the United States this year only after Canada and Mexico. China has been the fastest-growing export market for the country for five straight years and in the first nine months, Chinese imports to America had exceeded 57 billion dollar.
"We have seen expanding common interests shared by China and the United States," Wu said. "The communication and cooperation between the two countries in trade, investment and finance have reached unprecedented levels."
One instance was the surging mutual investment. She said that the United States had invested nearly 55.4 billion dollars and set up 54,000 companies in China as of October. Similarly, China's investment in the United States approached nearly 3 billion dollars.
Wu brushed aside worries that China would narrow down the range of its opening-up policies, saying the country would not change its stance in expanding the use of foreign capital. "China's door has been and will be resolutely opened to the outside world," she said.
Facing a more complex international financial environment and the long-accumulated deep-rooted problems in the national economy, China must remain sober-minded and seek a healthy and balanced development through deepened reforms and in opening itself wider to the world.
The JCCT, formed in 1983, has served as a bilateral venue for China and the United States to address trade and market access issues. The two countries will soon begin the 3rd China-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue and the 5th Strategic Dialogue on Wednesday.