"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Statement by U.S. Embassy Press Secretary Richard L. Buangan on the Accomplishments in the U.S.-China Relationship in 2011

[Date] January 19, 2012
[Source] Embassy of the United States (Beijing)
[Full text]

2011 was another important year in the U.S. China relationship. We demonstrated the depth and breadth of this relationship by the number of high-level visits, consultations on a range of pressing global issues, cooperative partnerships, and the sheer number of people who traveled between our two countries for tourism, work, and study. The U.S. Embassy and our consulates around China have been at the forefront of U.S. efforts to promote the positive, comprehensive, and cooperative relationship that Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao have dedicated themselves to since their first meeting in 2009. While there will of course continue to be disagreements in the relationship, such as human rights, we are committed to working together to tackle the broad range of complex issues that involve not just the future of our two countries, but indeed the entire world.

I’d like to highlight the frequency with which our heads of state met as a positive achievement in 2011. We started off with Hu Jintao’s successful and historic state visit to the United States in January, which included stops in Washington, DC, and Chicago. President Obama welcomed President Hu with all the pageantry and ceremony of an official state visit, the U.S. business community welcomed him as we reaffirmed that our two economies are more interdependent than ever before, and the two Presidents issued a joint statement that continues to guide our bilateral relationship. President Hu was able to see the importance that even ordinary Americans place on the U.S. China relationship as he visited a classroom in Chicago to meet with American students learning Mandarin. Americans and Chinese saw on their TVs the footage of President Obama and President Hu standing side-by-side as leaders of the world’s two largest economies, each of whom recognized the importance of finding common solutions to problems of global significance.

Since President Hu’s State Visit, our leaders have met several more times throughout 2011, each time re-committing themselves to the importance of this relationship and to broadening our engagement so that we not lose sight of our shared vision for a better world for our children and grandchildren. As a reflection of the importance that the USG places on our relationship, in 2011 Mission China hosted no fewer than six Cabinet-rank officials, as well as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and dozens of members of the U.S. Congress.

In April, we bid farewell to Ambassador Huntsman, and in August, we welcomed Ambassador Locke, the first U.S. Ambassador to China of Chinese ancestry. Ambassador Locke, as we say in English, “hit the ground running” and immediately began building on his long professional history of engagement with China, whether as Governor of a Pacific-rim state, the State of Washington, or as Secretary of Commerce, and now as President Obama’s personal representative in China and head of the second largest -- and arguably the most important -- U.S. Embassy in the world.

Our trade relationship grew in 2011 while China’s impressive economic growth is contributing to global economic recovery. Through November of 2011, U.S. merchandise exports to China totaled $94.2 billion, up 11.5 percent over the same period the previous year, though slower than worldwide U.S. exports which increased 16-17%. We will continue to encourage the Chinese to work toward greater market access for U.S. companies in China and to take further steps to improve intellectual property rights and trade secret issues. We welcome China’s continued economic growth because, as the facts show, a prosperous China is good for the U.S. economy. It creates American jobs and it fuels worldwide economic growth. Ambassador Locke has made it one of his priorities to encourage greater Chinese investment in the United States, which will in turn produce greater prosperity for the Chinese people and allow them to purchase more American goods and services.

Ambassador Locke has also made facilitating the U.S. visa application process a priority as he recognizes the importance of welcoming Chinese visitors to the U.S., which benefits the U.S. economy and increases people-to-people ties. As Chinese become more and more prosperous, they are traveling to the United States in record numbers. The Chinese demand for U.S. visas is currently growing at a rate of 35% per year, and this growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. In the past year, as we attempted to meet this growing demand, we added new staff to our consular operations across China and are expanding many of our facilities. Last December we processed our 1 millionth visa applications within the calendar year which makes us the second U.S. diplomatic mission in the world to do so. U.S. Department of Commerce figures estimate that the number of first-time Chinese travelers to the U.S. will triple in the next five years. Chinese travelers spend an average of $6,000 while in the U.S. The number of Chinese students is also increasing, making them the largest group of international students studying in U.S. In the 2010-11 academic year, nearly 160,000 students from China were studying in the U.S., up 23% from the previous year. We continually seek to improve our operations and efficiency, and we are expanding visa processing capacity by opening new consular facilities in Guangzhou and Shanghai, and adding around 50 new consular officers China-wide in 2012, representing an approximate 50% increase in consular officer staffing. We have raised the issue of lengthening visa validity for Chinese nationals with the Chinese Government, subject to reciprocal treatment for U.S. citizens seeking travel to China.

We hope to continue the positive momentum in 2012 as we celebrate the Year of the Dragon, traditionally a time of hope and optimism. As the world continues down the path of economic recovery, it should also be a year of purpose, resolve, and partnership for the U.S. and China as we mark the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. We also look forward to welcoming Vice President Xi Jinping to the United States. Our broad and multifaceted engagement with China will continue in 2012 as we seek to increase people-to-people exchange and economic cooperation between our two counties. Our relationship continues to be grounded in mutual respect and mutual cooperation. We continue to cooperate on a broad range of important global issues, even as we manage carefully a number of differences that remain between us -- just as we always have. The U.S.-China relationship will continue to be one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, and we look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts to advance the common good of our people and the common interests of our two great nations.