Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew,
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi
At the U.S.-China Press Statements
Great Hall of the People
Secretary Lew: Thank you. I’d like to thank Vice Premier Wang Yang, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and the Chinese delegation for hosting us at this year’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue, as well as my colleague, John Kerry, and all of our teams for their participation. It is an important event.
The past two days have been marked by a constructive and candid discussion reflecting the full range of issues that we face in our bilateral relationship. This bilateral relationship between the economies together account for over one-third of global GDP as a cornerstone of the global economy. And it’s imperative that we continue to strengthen and build it.
I saw on CNN this morning that as we meet, Chinese students around the country are sitting for their college entrance exams, the gaokao. The exams are the culmination of years of hard work and reflect the aspirations of Chinese students seeking to better their lives and expand their opportunities. Our responsibility as public officials is to create the conditions that help people achieve their aspirations, including by expanding economic opportunities through our bilateral relationship. And that is, Vice Premier, is the test by which we should judge the value of the S&ED.
In eight years of this dialogue, we’ve worked hard and I’m confident that we’ve passed the test. The S&ED has produced significant results over these past eight years. But just like the students who excel in the gaokao, our work does not end here. We move on to new challenges. I’m confident that our two governments will continue to make concrete progress on issues that are important to the people in both of our countries, cooperating when we can and directly addressing our differences when we cannot.
As we conclude this last S&ED of the Obama Administration, we can look back on the dialogue’s accomplishments and also take stock of areas where we need to make progress in the future. Our economic track discussions over the past two days focused on several concrete areas. We discussed creating benefits for both our citizens by expanding opportunities for trade and investment and leveling the playing field for our workers and businesses. We continue to encourage China to follow through on structural reforms, bolstering financial stability, and further reducing excess industrial capacity to move towards stronger and more sustainable and balanced growth while reducing distorting effects on global markets.
We noted the importance of China’s continued efforts to improve communication on exchange rates and other economic policies and increase economic data and regulatory transparency. And we covered the need to cooperate to support and strengthen the international financial system, including by upholding the highest standards of governance. It’s clear from our discussions that China’s leaders recognize the need to reform China’s economy and its growth model. Implementation of the ambitious reform agenda set out by Chinese authorities is essential if China is to successfully rebalance its economy towards domestic household consumption as the key driver of sustainable economic growth.
Let me give a few examples of the progress that we’ve made in this year’s S&ED. China committed to continue market-oriented exchange-rate reform that allows for two-way flexibility while stressing that there is no basis for sustained depreciation of the RMB. China reaffirmed its G20 commitments to avoid competitive devaluation and not target the exchange rate for competitive purposes. These commitments, originally announced in February, help bolster market confidence and support financial market stability at a time when concerns about the global economy were on the rise. China committed to step up its efforts to rebalance its economy toward household consumption and services, while ensuring investment is high in quality and driven by the private sector. For the first time at the S&ED, China agreed to better align the incentives of all levels of government to support household consumption. And in the short term, China said it stands ready to complement these reforms and has adopted more proactive fiscal policies to expand domestic demand.
In an effort that will allow Chinese policymakers, the corporate sector, and financial markets to better understand economic developments, China has committed to improve economic data and transparency. Given that China is one of the world’s two largest economies and the largest trading nation, this will also promote better understanding of global economic developments.
We welcome China’s commitment to undertake further steps that would enable its steel industry to be more responsive to market forces, and in doing so, progressively reduce its excess production capacity. To this end, China has committed to ensure that its central government policies and support do not target the net expansion of steel capacity, and to actively and appropriately wind down zombie enterprises through a range of efforts, including restructuring and bankruptcy.
China has also committed to participate in the international community’s efforts to address excess capacity at the OECD and to engage with the United States on a potential global steel forum. While, regrettably, we were not able to come to common understanding of the global aluminum excess capacity situation, the United States and China will continue to hold discussions on excess capacity in this important sector.
With regard to the financial sector, China committed to deepen reforms, including specific steps that will expand access for U.S. financial services firms, legal and corporate reforms, which will foster institutional investors and financial regulatory reforms consistent with international standards. These reforms will help U.S. investors to participate in China’s financial markets and contribute to global financial stability.
Building on President Xi’s visit to Washington last fall, both sides agreed on a policy framework for the private sector to enhance RMB trading and clearing capacity in the United States. This will support the competitiveness of the U.S. financial and corporate sectors and improve U.S. investors’ access to China’s onshore capital markets. China announced an initial RMB qualified institutional investor quota of 250 billion RMB, which is $38 billion for the United States. This is the largest in the world after Hong Kong. China’s commitment to designate RMB clearing banks in the United States will provide an additional mechanism for clearing RMB alongside corresponding bank relationships.
We welcome China’s engagement in the Paris Club, recognizing its place as the principal international forum for restructuring official bilateral debt. The Paris Club needs to keep pace with the changing landscape of official financing, including by expanding its membership to include emerging creditors such as China. We look forward to China’s continued engagement in the club, including further discussions on potential membership.
On export credits and enhancing the effectiveness of the International Working Group on Export Credits, China and the United States agreed to seek reforms to the IWG structure, including the appointment of a secretary general. Importantly, China committed to providing the IWG with comments on a table of horizontal guideline text at the fall IWG meeting. These steps will help to advance progress on developing new international export credit guidelines.
We’re also pleased with China’s commitments to reform its biotechnology review process to make it timely and transparent and science-based. China also committed to engage in a dialogue by year-end on the impacts of its asynchronous review system. While this is substantive progress, we continue to have differences with China on biotechnology. We look forward to further dialogue to resolve these differences and to ensure the smooth flow of trade and innovative biotechnologies.
We recognize the important steps that China’s leaders have taken and strongly urge them to follow through on the commitments that they’ve made. While such progress is commendable, there’s still more work to do. American companies operating in China have expressed growing concerns about the business climate, and it’s important that our two countries continue to engage with one another in our respective business communities to resolve these concerns. We also look forward to continuing to work together on the many issues we discussed as we head into the G20 Leaders’ Summit that China will host in Hangzhou in September. While efforts over the past several days cannot resolve our concerns, they do represent real progress that will create opportunities for U.S. workers and companies in a growing Chinese market.
Finally, I want to thank the delegations on both sides for their candor and openness during our conversations. Clear communication is critical for a successful bilateral relationship. And I want to personally thank Vice Premier Wang for his leadership during these discussions not only this year, but throughout the entirety of our relationship. Not only has Vice Premier Wang been a constructive and frank partner and an advocate for his country and for the U.S.-China relationship, but we’ve become friends. And it’s that friendship that has allowed us to work candidly together on tough issues. I look forward to working with him to ensure that the meeting between our two presidents in September is a success. Thank you very much.
Secretary Kerry: Well, good afternoon. Very pleased to join Vice Premier Wang and the State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and of course, my colleague, Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, in reviewing the results of the past two days and building on the considerable agenda that Secretary Lew has just laid out. The breadth of the conversations, obviously, has been extensive. I want to start by thanking President Xi for welcoming us yesterday and taking the time to come and set the tone and the direction for this dialogue, and I very much look forward to meeting with him and with Premier Li later this afternoon.
I also want to join Secretary Lew in thanking our teams – both of our teams. This has been a very professional, very serious conversation. We haven’t hesitated to talk about tough issues. Didn’t agree on everything, but the importance is that we’re willing to have those conversations, and frankly, find ways to try to bring ourselves together and resolve differences.
You’ve already heard from Secretary Lew the extent of the economic front. The dialogue has been particularly significant, in our judgment, because it does represent the last Security and Economic Dialogue of the Obama Administration, but more importantly, it’s also the preparation for the G20. And I think everybody would agree that we have made progress in setting out an agenda for the G20 that will help to make that also a successful meeting. It is just three months from now that our presidents will meet here in China, and so I think this meeting was significant in preparation for that.
Our discussions underscore – and everybody agreed on this – that the U.S.-China relationship is absolutely vital, that it may well be the most consequential bilateral relationship of nations on the world – in the world, and that the S&ED itself is an essential mechanism for both managing our differences and also expanding our areas of cooperation. And since this is my fourth S&ED, I can tell you that I am very respectful of the degree to which we have expanded multiple areas of cooperation across the entire span of a bilateral relationship – health, science, education, security, and many other sectors.
To start with, we agree that our collaboration – our constructive, positive collaboration – is central to addressing issues of global reach and significance. And a prime example of this is the work that we have done together and continue to do on climate change. Previous S&ED sessions helped to set the stage for our countries to be able to work together in the lead-up to the global agreement reached last December in Paris. Now we are coordinating our diplomatic efforts with the goal of fully implementing the Paris agreement this year. At the same time, we are focused on the conservation and protection of our oceans, our ocean resources, and I invited Foreign Minister Wang to join me at our oceans – at the Our Oceans Conference in Washington this September.
Another area where our cooperation is absolutely critical and where global security and regional security are at stake is the relationship to North Korea. Neither one of our nations will accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, and we are both determined to fully enforce the UN Security Council Resolution 2270. So I am grateful that our Chinese counterparts agreed to have experts from each of our countries come together to coordinate the full and effective implementation of sanctions going forward from now, because this is a concerted effort that is necessary in order to realize our shared goal of a stable and secure peninsula, also to realize the goal of a North Korea that chooses the peaceful path of denuclearization.
On Iran, the United States and China have demonstrated how close coordination can lead to tangible progress for our common security by enforcing our mutual policies with respect to nonproliferation. Over the past two days, we discussed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the United States and China are co-chairs of a group that will work with Iran to redesign its heavy-water reactor in order to ensure that that facility cannot be used to produce weapons-grade uranium – plutonium, excuse me. We appreciate very much China’s technical expertise in this regard and their active participation in the P5+1.
And on Syria, we pledged continued cooperation, working through the International Syria Support Group, the ISSG, in reducing the violence on the ground, targeting access to humanitarian aid, and reaching a political solution to end that country’s terrible conflict.
Beyond these and other issues of global scale and scope, we addressed the many key areas where we are strengthening our bilateral cooperation. This includes joint efforts to fight poverty, to bolster development. In fact, we agreed to try to work harder on how we can actually bilaterally be more engaged in development policy and efforts across the planet. We also agreed that we need to work further to promote health and to engage in the delivery of health systems, and particularly capacity building for countries in desperate need of that help.
We also decided to agree to cooperate further with the African Union on the African Center for Disease Control. Our cooperation also includes deeper coordination on law enforcement, UN peacekeeping, cyber security, and an area where our presidents have already laid a very clear plan and our governments are working hand-in-hand in order to implement the agreements, which President Obama and President Xi have reached.
Our cooperation also includes efforts to deepen our people-to-people ties through wider and growing exchanges between our students, business owners, scientists, artists, academics, and more. And I just had the privilege, with Vice Premier Liu, of welcoming two teams – soccer teams – the Duke University team and a Chinese team that yesterday played together, as well as a joint singing group between Yale University and Xinhua. So these are the kinds of people-to-people diplomatic efforts that ultimately bring our people close together and help us to understand each other.
Finally, we also discussed several areas of disagreement. I shared with State Councilor Yang our concerns with the recently adopted law on the management of foreign NGO activities. These nongovernmental groups, in our judgment, world over – not just in China, but in every country – make important contributions. And particularly here in China we feel that they work to help to build an understanding between us and to help build capacity in certain important sectors of the economy and the relationship. They have done so for decades. I expressed the importance of allowing these organizations to continue to function effectively across the country and to further support the growth and the well being of the Chinese people through those efforts.
I also raised international concerns about growing restrictions on freedom of religion and expression – specifically the targeting of some lawyers, religious adherents, and civil society leaders.
And we had an in-depth discussion about tensions between China and neighbors in the South China Sea. I reiterated America’s fundamental support for negotiations and a peaceful resolution, based on the rule of law, as well as, obviously, our concern about any unilateral steps by any party, whichever claimant, to alter the status quo. President Xi and President Obama had a very deep, personal conversation about this, and we believe our presidents have reached an understanding of how to proceed forward. The United States does not take a position on the sovereignty of any of the land features in the South China Sea, but we do believe that all claimants should exercise restraint as we go forward.
State Councilor Yang and I each reaffirmed our government’s commitment to uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight, and we discussed the need to fully implement the declaration on the code of conduct in the South China Sea.
So I believe that, in these two days, we have made significant headway in constructively addressing the challenges before us. And I am confident that we are going to continue to engage in productive, fruitful discussions in the weeks and in the months ahead. Our determination to do so now and in the future comes from a simple, inescapable fact: The shape of economic growth, political stability, environmental protection, the global security in the 21st century will be heavily affected and defined by the character of this relationship.
Our countries share an extraordinary responsibility, and we simply cannot permit old ways of thinking or past ideological rivalries to keep us from fulfilling our joint obligations on leadership. The complex era in which we live demands cooperation and collaboration, not conflict and discord. It requires that we embrace a new model of partnership and that we continue to engage in close and candid and constructive conversation through forums such as the S&ED.
So I thank, once again, Vice Premier Wang and State Councilor Yang. I personally thank you for your hospitality, for your commitment to more productive ties, and I thank you for the four years, three and a half years, that I’ve been able to serve as Secretary. You and I have, like Jack Lew and the vice premier, we’ve become friends. You’ve been to my home. We’ve spent a lot of time together. We’ve dined at Mount Vernon. We have talked about every issue under the sun, and I believe, in these two days, we’ve helped to advance the relationship and to reduce some of the tensions between us. Thank you.