Clinton meets Chinese foreign affairs official Dai

Clinton meets Chinese foreign affairs official Dai

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met top Chinese foreign relations official Dai Bingguo on Monday for talks on bilateral ties but also expected to address China's concerns about the US economy and budget debate.

Chinese state television said Clinton and Dai - who is State Councillor for foreign affairs - met in the southern city of Shenzhen in a brief visit winding up a 12-day foreign tour.

The state TV said that Clinton and Dai had agreed that the two sides should continue to build up their "cooperative partnership."

The talks come amid worries being expressed about the protracted wrangling between the White House and Congress in setting a new debt ceiling as an August 2 deadline before a US default is approaching.

China, as the single-biggest lender to the US, has expressed its concern abou tthe US economic crisis and the slump of the dollar.

Clinton was in Hong Kong earlier Monday, where she sought to allay peoples' worries about the US debt ceiling debate.

"Let me assure you we understand the stakes. We know how important this is for us and how important it is for you. The political wrangling in Washington is intense right now," Clinton said, according to the US State Department transcript of her remarks.

"But this is how an open and democratic society ultimately comes together to reach the right solutions. So I am confident that Congress will do the right thing and secure a deal on the debt ceiling, and work with President (Barack) Obama to take the steps necessary to improve our long-term fiscal outlook," she added.

Clinton also argued that Asian consumers should spend more to raise their own living standards and simultaneously boost employment in the United States.

The first secretary of state to visit the territory since Hong Kong's return to Chinese control in July 1997, Clinton also called for a transparent and fair global trading regime, attacking product piracy and unfair trading practices.

"We in the United States are in the middle of a necessary transition: we must save more and spend less. And we must not only save more and spend less, we must borrow less, as well," she told a business lunch.

"Our partners must meet this change with changes of their own. Long-term growth requires stronger and broader-based domestic demand in today's high-saving Asian economies.

"This will raise living standards across the region, create jobs in America ... and help stabilise the global economy," Clinton said.

Turning to trade issues, Clinton said global economies must seek an open system where any person anywhere can participate in markets everywhere.

She said it must also be a free system, where "ideas, information, products and capital can flow unimpeded by unnecessary or unjust barriers...

"Third, we must seek a transparent economic system. Rules and regulations need to be developed out in the open through consultation with stakeholders. They must be known to all and applied equally to all," Clinton said.

Finally, she added in a swipe at Beijing's poor track record in tackling product piracy and other trade issues: "Fairness sustains faith in the system.

"That faith is difficult to sustain when companies are forced to trade away their intellectual property just to enter or expand in a foreign market, or when vital supply chains are blocked," Clinton said without naming China.

In a further unnamed reference to China and other Asian countries, Clinton said: "Of course, no nation is perfect when it comes to safeguarding these principles, including my own.

"We all recognise the temptation to bend them. And a number of nations, wealthy in the aggregate but often poorer per capita, might even think the rules don't apply to them," she said.

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