WASHINGTON -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Monday China can play a major role in restoring global growth by continuing to encourage more consumption at home and exporting less.
At the start of a two-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Geithner avoided any mention of sensitive currency issues and instead focused on encouraging Beijing to recognize that strapped U.S. consumers can't keep powering the global economy.
"China's success in shifting the structure of the economy toward domestic-led growth, including a greater role for spending by China's citizens, will be a huge contribution to more rapid, balanced and sustained global growth," he said.
Geithner is co-host along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the mostly closed-door talks Monday and Tuesday.
The former Bush administration initiated twice-a-year talks in 2005 between financial chiefs of the two nations. But the Obama administration broadened them to include a diplomatic dimension and cut the sessions to once a year, alternating between Washington and Beijing.
In a joint op-ed article in the Washington Post newspaper on Monday, Clinton and Geithner stressed the growing significance of close relations between the two countries as China's economic and political might grows.
"Simply put, few global problems can be solved by the U.S. or China alone," they wrote. "And few can be solved without the U.S. and China together."
In that context, issues like containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions rank in importance with persuading Beijing to tune back its exports of cheap consumer goods to the United States and to buy more abroad at these talks.
"The strength of the global economy, the health of the global environment, the stability of fragile states and the solution to nonproliferation challenges turn in large measure on cooperation between the U.S. and China," Geithner and Clinton said.
In opening remarks before the meetings moved behind closed doors, Clinton said the talks were intended to put the dialogue between the two nations on a higher level, adding:
"This dialogue ... marks the beginning of an unprecedented effort to lay the foundation for a positive, cooperative and comprehensive U.S.-Chinese relationship in the 21st century."
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