Trust is fuel powering U.S.-China ties: U.S. ambassador

07:47, June 22, 2010      

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After working in Beijing for 10 months, U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said in Hong Kong Monday that trust was very important and was the fuel that powered the U. S.-China relations.

"Sometimes the tank is full, (and) sometimes it draws down. When it draws down like what happened early this year, the relations become sort of rocky," said Huntsman, who was invited by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce as one of its 150th anniversary speakers.

Huntsman, who became U.S. Ambassador to China in August last year, gave five observations on the U.S.-China relations.

Firstly, the mandarin-speaking U.S. diplomat said there were a lot less dramas in the U.S.-China relations than many people might imagine despite the occasional alarmist headlines.

"If you view the U.S.-China relations with a distance, you get the sense that the wheel is coming off the bus. But when in the middle of the relations, you would get less drama," he said.

"There is more respect ... (and) the ability to communicate on the very very sensitive issues. I don't have a panic button, no restart button. The relations have ups and downs, but overall relations are strong, stable and resilient," Huntsman said.

Secondly, he said there are areas of difference but there are many more areas of convergence and what unites us is a lot more important than what divides the U.S. and China.

"Our success is increasingly tied to identifying our shared interests and to working towards practical solutions," said the 50- year-old diplomat.

Thirdly, Huntsman said the two nations were not seeking to " impose our world views on one another" or "to remake one another."

The U.S. and China would seek to understand each other better, to continue dialogues and to improve future prospects, he said.

Fourthly, Huntsman said while hot political issues often grab public attention, the foundation of the U.S.-China relations was largely commerce and trade.

Back in 1974 and 1975, two-way annual trade between the U.S. and China was somewhere between 500 million U.S. dollars to 1 billion U.S. dollars, but this year the U.S.-China trade would reach 400 billion U.S. dollars, making it the world's largest commercial relations, according to Huntsman.

Even in the sensitive areas of imbalance, it began to narrow, he said. In 2000, China was the 11th largest export market of the U.S. while it was the third largest now.

Fifth, Huntsman said long-term U.S.-China relationship should be based on investment in the next generation and real trust would be earned by people-to-people interactions.

Huntsman reminded people of being realistic on the expectations over the U.S.-China relations. "It would never be a 100-percent paradise, nor a cold-war staredown. It would probably be something in between," he added.

Asked to comment on China's move to allow more flexibility in its yuan exchange rate, Huntsman responded carefully.

"I think it's a genuine attempt by China to address its exchange rate mechanism by providing greater flexibility. I know they have given great thoughts and consideration on going forward, knowing that any economic transition that results in stronger consumption, will at some point have to deal with the currency issue," he said.



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