Speaking at Beijing Jiaotong University, August 26th, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao told faculty and students there that "a vibrant relationship exists between our two countries." The U.S. and China are more engaged than ever, she said, both culturally and economically.
China is already the second largest trading partner of the United States in terms of total trade. More than one-hundred-ninety-one billion dollars in goods were exchanged between the two countries in the first five months of 2008. So far this year, U.S. exports to China have totaled nearly thirty-seven billion dollars, while imports from China have totaled over one-hundred-fifty-four billion dollars.
Secretary Chao noted that "the United States, like China, is a country of diverse regions where people have many different experiences. But there is general agreement that the private sector – not government – is the primary engine of job creation and growth." The role of government, said Secretary Chao, "is to create the environment and the conditions through which economic growth and job creation can occur."
Secretary Chao said that because of the importance of relations between the U.S. and China, President George W. Bush and President Hu Jintao created, in 2006, a framework to help manage economic relations in a more comprehensive regular way, called the U.S.- China Strategic Economic Dialogue, or S-E-D. The S-E-D was created to enable the U.S. and China to speak to each other at the highest levels, across the cabinet departments, rather than each department talking only to its counterpart.
A Chinese-American, Secretary Chao spoke of her own experience growing up in two cultures, American and Chinese. There are many similarities, she noted. "Both cultures treasure the family, believe strongly in the importance of education and acknowledge hard work as a path to success."
"The relationship between our two countries will only grow," said Secretary Chao. "That's why we need to communicate, learn to understand one another, and share our mutual experiences, so that the people in both our countries can thrive and prosper."