US Ambassador to China Gary Locke spoke about the past, present, and future course of the US-China relationship at an event co-sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the US-China Business Council in Washington, DC, highlighting recent accomplishments, such as increased trade and foreign investment between the world’s two largest economies.

During his September 13 speech, Locke said the Asia-Pacific region is a top priority for the United States, noting that the economies of the region account for almost 60 percent of the world’s GDP. “Together with our friends, partners, and allies throughout the Asia-Pacific, we hope to develop common solutions to shared problems, and leave the world a better place for our children,” Locke said.

Locke highlighted recent bilateral meetings held between the United States and China, including four meetings of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and the fact that the presidents of both the United States and China have met 12 times over the last three years.

Locke remained optimistic about the future. “We intend to make history in our relationship with China in the 21st century,” he said. For American companies operating in China, Locke said it was important to work together to guarantee a level playing field for competition with Chinese companies by establishing a more open investment climate, ending unfair currency practices, and improving the protection of intellectual property rights in China.

To highlight recent cooperation, Locke mentioned the tremendous growth of US-China trade over the past four decades. “To put this in tangible terms, in 1972 our annual bilateral trade was less than $100 million,” Locke said. “Two- way investment was close to zero. Only a handful of American jobs relied on trade with China. Today, more than a billion dollars of goods and services flow between our two countries each day. More than 800,000 American jobs depend on producing goods and services sold to China.”

He went on to tout the growth of US exports to China, which surpassed $100 billion for the first time in 2011. Locke also highlighted Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States, which is on a record pace so far in 2012. More than $3 billion in deals were completed in the first half of the year. “Imagine what we can accomplish 50 or even 100 years from now if our governments, our companies, and our peoples are working together,” he said.

Locke also explained efforts to streamline the visa process for Chinese citizens interested in visiting the United States. More than 1 million visa applications were processed through the United States’ embassy in Beijing and its consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang—a 42 percent increase from a year ago. He said visitors had to wait less than eight days, on average, to get a visa appointment.

—Ben Baden

Posted by Christina Nelson