Day one of the third annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue finished today in Washington DC. Judging from reports, human rights and economic concerns were the main talking points. From Washington Post:
The session opened with criticism by top U.S. officials of recent arrests of Chinese activists and artists that came in the wake of the spreading pro-democracy movement in the Middle East.
“We have vigorous disagreement in the area of human rights,” Vice President Biden said at the opening of the meeting. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: ”We have made very clear, publicly and privately, our concern about human rights.”
A senior administration official later said the discussions on human rights were “very candid and honest.”
On economic issues, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said there had been “very promising changes” in Chinese economic policy over the past year. These include a modest appreciation of China’s currency, with a sense that more is on the way, and a promise to better protect the rights of U.S. and other foreign companies.
Still, the U.S. is using the meetings to push into sensitive terrain — urging the Community Party-controlled government to loosen control of its financial system, a major source of state power and conduit of investment to state-controlled enterprises.
Opening up the financial sector is considered important to boosting the spending power of Chinese households and making the country less dependent on exports for its economic success.
The Chinese delegation asked the U.S. government to loosen export and investment controls. From Sydney Morning Herald:
China urged Washington to lift export and investment controls directed against Beijing, saying such a move could go a long way towards conquering the steep trade imbalance between the two powers.
But in their annual bilateral dialogue, US officials continued to press Beijing
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