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Great Potential, Common Interests Lie in Sino-US Economic Cooperation
China and the United States complement each other in the economic field, and they have a great potential and share broad common interests in economic cooperation, a senior Chinese official said Wednesday.

In an interview with Xinhua, Minister in charge of the State Development Planning Commission Zeng Peiyan said economic cooperation between the two countries has pushed forward the development of bilateral relations since they forged diplomatic relations.

Despite fluctuations, bilateral economic cooperation has mostly maintained a steady development momentum, the minister said.

Against the backdrop of the current global economic situation and the needs of both countries, stepping up cooperation in the fields of trade, the economy and investment will help the two sides to give a role to their respective advantages so as to promote economic growth and increase employment in both countries.

It is also in keeping with the common desire and interests of the Chinese and American people, the minister stressed.

Zeng said that since Chinese President Jiang Zemin and US President George W. Bush met in Shanghai last October, Sino-US relations have continued to develop. And the invitation of President Jiang, President Bush will pay a working visit to China from February 21 to 22.

"We hope that President Bush's visit to China will further push forward economic cooperation and exchanges between China and the United States, expand the channel and area of cooperation, and lift the level and standard of cooperation," Zeng said.

He said China attaches great importance to economic cooperation with the United States. China will continue the policy to open wider to the rest of the world and encourage foreign business persons to invest in areas such as agriculture, energy, communications, petrochemicals, medicine, construction materials and high technology.

The minister said China will continue opening up service sectors such as banking, insurance, telecommunications, retailing, foreign trade, tourism, transport, accounting and law in accordance with its commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

All this will make China's market increasingly attractive and will provide more business opportunities for American enterprises.

Zeng said with the slowdown in the world economy, talks between China and the US on economic, finance, trade other major issues are especially of strategic significance.

China hopes that the US government will relax control on exports and investments to China in the field of high technology, and fulfill its commitments to the Sino-US Agreement on Agricultural Cooperation as soon as possible, the minister said.

China and the US over have made remarkable progress in economic cooperation since the presidents of the two countries exchanged visits during 1997-1998 and established a Sino-US constructive strategic partnership geared to the 21st century.

China now is the fourth largest trade partner of the US. The US is the second largest trade partner of China and China's second largest source of imports, next to Japan. China imports farm products, aircraft, power station equipment, oil equipment, electronic products, petrochemicals and medical equipment from the US and exports light industrial, machinery and electronic products to the US.

The two countries signed a bilateral agreement on China's accession to the World Trade Organization in Beijing on November 15, 1999. This, said the minister, greatly accelerated the process of China's accession to the WTO and created conditions favorable for long-term, stable development of economic and trade relations between them.

Despite the slowing down US economy since the fourth quarter of 2000, Sino-US trade has maintained a good momentum.

Statistics from the Chinese customs show that bilateral trade grew by 21.2 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively, in 2000 and 2001.

US investors have launched nearly 34,000 projects in China, involving a total contractual investment of more than US$68 billion with nearly US$35 billion already in use. The US has become the second largest source of foreign direct investment in China, following Hong Kong.

Statistics show that in 2001 alone, US companies actually invested US$4.86 billion in China, setting an all-time high on a yearly basis. Most of the money went into machine building, automobiles, telecommunications, computers, petrochemicals, energy, infrastructure facilities, finance and insurance.

Zeng said China and the U.S. enjoy their own advantages in terms of labor, capital, technology and market. The expansion of bilateral economic, trade and investment cooperation on a equal and mutually beneficial basis is conducive to promoting economic development in both countries and improving the living standards of their people.

The introduction of products, capital and technology from the US has helped enrich China's domestic market and provided the much needed capital and management expertise for its development, the minister said.

At the same time, industrial and high-tech businesses in the US gained access to a huge and highly profitable market in China, which helps increase employment in the US, and China's high quality but low-cost consumer products have benefited hundreds of thousands of American households.

US investment has played an active role in promoting economic growth in China. Meanwhile, American businesses have also benefited from China's rapid growth in China.

Today, many of big American companies have made China an important part of their global operations.

For example, Motorola, with more than US$3 billion of investment in China, has taken 30 percent of the Chinese mobile telecommunications market. General Motors has put US$1.8 billion in two joint ventures in Shanghai and Shenyang respectively. Kodak has taken the lead in China's

photographic film market, while Microsoft has set up a research and development center in the country. All the projects have reaped rich returns.

At the same time, Chinese businesses have also invested in the US, playing an active role in promoting Sino-US economic cooperation and the growth of local economy. For example, the Haier Group, a leading household appliance manufacturer in China, has set up a factory in South Carolina, the US and has won a local government award for its contribution to the development of the local community.

As for the future of Sino-US economic cooperation, Zeng expressed his firm belief that "as long as the two sides can get rid of the impact of non-economic factors and resolve problems emerging during the development of bilateral economic relations in a positive, practical manner and through consultation on an equal footing, Sino-US economic cooperation will grow healthily and have bright prospects."

(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2002)

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