Biden Speaks to Chinese Students on U.S.-China Relations

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2011 — The Unit­ed States and Chi­na have essen­tial roles to play in solv­ing many of the world’s most press­ing chal­lenges, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden told a Chi­nese audi­ence yes­ter­day.

As part of a four-day vis­it to Chi­na, Biden vis­it­ed Sichuan Uni­ver­si­ty in Cheng­du, where he spoke to Chi­nese col­lege stu­dents about U.S.-China relations. 

Biden first vis­it­ed that nation in 1979 as a senator. 

“It was a very dif­fer­ent coun­try then, but what was absolute­ly clear to me was that Chi­na was on the cusp of a remark­able trans­for­ma­tion,” he told the students. 

A ris­ing Chi­na will fuel eco­nom­ic growth and bring to the fore a new part­ner with whom the Unit­ed States can meet glob­al chal­lenges, the vice pres­i­dent said. 

When Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and he took office in 2009, they made the U.S.-China rela­tion­ship a top pri­or­i­ty, Biden said. 

“Our pres­i­dents have met nine times since then, includ­ing very suc­cess­ful state vis­its in Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton, and have spo­ken numer­ous times by tele­phone,” he noted. 

The pre­mier forum for com­mu­ni­ca­tion between Unit­ed States and Chi­nese offi­cials is the Strate­gic and Eco­nom­ic Dia­logue, which brings togeth­er pol­i­cy­mak­ers from across both gov­ern­ments to dis­cuss issues from trade bar­ri­ers to cli­mate change, he said. 

In May, the two nations also joint­ly launched the first Strate­gic Secu­ri­ty Dia­logue as a chan­nel for civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­ers to dis­cuss sen­si­tive top­ics, includ­ing cyber and mar­itime secu­ri­ty, the vice pres­i­dent said. 

To make that dia­logue effec­tive, it’s impor­tant that the two nations’ mil­i­tary lead­ers get to know each oth­er, Biden said. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chief of the Gen­er­al Staff Chen Bingde of the Chi­nese army have begun that process through n exchange of vis­its in May and July, he noted. 

“The fact is Chi­na and the Unit­ed States face many of the same threats and share many of the same objec­tives and respon­si­bil­i­ties,” Biden said. 

Because Chi­na and the Unit­ed States some­times view threats from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, the two nations’ senior mil­i­tary lead­ers should talk “as fre­quent­ly as our diplo­mats do,” he said. 

The Unit­ed States is and will remain a Pacif­ic pow­er, the vice pres­i­dent said. 

“Over the last 60 years, no coun­try has done more than we have to ensure the sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty of the Asian-Pacif­ic region,” Biden said. “And I’d respect­ful­ly sug­gest that has been good for Chi­na, allow­ing Chi­na to focus on domes­tic devel­op­ment and to ben­e­fit from a grow­ing market.” 

America’s focus on the region will only grow in the years to come, as Asia plays an even greater role in the glob­al econ­o­my and inter­na­tion­al affairs, he said. 

Biden said the Unit­ed States and Chi­na are work­ing with inter­na­tion­al part­ners to counter the threat of nuclear weapons, mate­ri­als and tech­nol­o­gy, not­ing that Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tau joined Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and oth­er lead­ers last year at a nuclear secu­ri­ty conference. 

“Along with 46 oth­er world lead­ers, Pres­i­dent Hu hon­ored us by join­ing Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and me at the Nuclear Secu­ri­ty Sum­mit in April of last year, and our nations are now col­lab­o­rat­ing on a cen­ter for excel­lence to pro­vide nuclear secu­ri­ty in Chi­na,” Biden said. 

Dur­ing his vis­it, the vice pres­i­dent told the stu­dents, he dis­cussed with Chi­nese Vice Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, the need for the two nations to focus on “the world’s two pri­ma­ry nuclear pro­lif­er­at­ing chal­lenges: North Korea and Iran.” 

If armed with nuclear weapons on long-range mis­siles, North Korea and Iran would pose a direct and seri­ous, exis­ten­tial threat to the secu­ri­ty of the Unit­ed States and its allies, Biden said. 

“That is why we’ve been work­ing with Chi­na and our inter­na­tion­al part­ners to main­tain peace and sta­bil­i­ty on the Kore­an penin­su­la and to achieve a com­plete denu­cleariza­tion of North Korea,” he said. “And it is why as the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues its illic­it nuclear pro­gram, we have worked with a range of part­ners and inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions to enact the tough­est sanc­tions that Iran has ever faced.” 

The Unit­ed States will con­tin­ue to look to Chi­na to send a clear mes­sage to Iran­ian lead­ers through its words and its deeds that Iran must live up to its inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions, he added. 

Oth­er secu­ri­ty chal­lenges the Unit­ed States and Chi­na share include Afghanistan, Pak­istan and the Sudan, the vice pres­i­dent noted. 

“Con­tin­u­ing to devel­op our secu­ri­ty dia­logue and coop­er­a­tion is the surest way to meet these joint chal­lenges,” he said. 

Biden repeat­ed for the stu­dents a com­ment he made dur­ing the annu­al Strate­gic and Eco­nom­ic Dia­logue here in May: “For many of the world’s most press­ing chal­lenges, it is a sim­ple fact that when the Unit­ed States and Chi­na are not at the table, the solu­tion to the prob­lem is less possible.” 

Oba­ma and Biden will con­tin­ue work­ing to make the nations’ part­ner­ship more pos­i­tive, coop­er­a­tive and com­pre­hen­sive in the com­ing years, he said. 

“I hope that my vis­it can serve as a step toward these goals and toward strength­en­ing that bond,” he added. 

Biden lat­er vis­it­ed Mon­go­lia, and he is now in Japan. His over­seas trip con­cludes lat­er this week. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

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