by Li Xuejun
WASHINGTON, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Elaine Chao, U.S.
secretary of labor, hailed the just-concluded China-U.S. Strategic Economic
Dialogue (SED) as well as bilateral ties in an exclusive interview with Xinhua
"Through the ongoing, dynamic
and respectful discussions of the SED, the (U.S.-China) relationship is growing
in a positive direction," Chao said.
The SED has brought progress on issues important to
the United States, China and the global economy, faster than would have been
possible otherwise. It is also important that these talks are comprehensive and
cut across different departments and agencies, she added.
The fourth meeting of the SED, initiated by U.S.
President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2006, took place on
June 16-18 in Annapolis, Maryland, at the U.S. Naval Academy.
At the end of the meeting, the two sides signed a
10-year agreement to work cooperatively on energy and environment. Both
countries also agreed to open negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty,
identify important infrastructure needs across all modes of transportation and
enable the free flow of trade in these areas.
Chao, as the U.S. secretary of labor, is a
high-ranking member of the U.S. delegation headed by Treasury Secretary Henry
"I think it is important for the two major economic
powers in the world to have continuous, regularized dialogue," Chao said during
The United States is the world's largest developed
country, and China is the world's largest developing country. The interests of
the two countries are interwoven in many ways and so it is important for both to
understand each other better, she said.
Chao expressed her confidence that whoever is elected
the next U.S. president will realize the importance of the SED. "We must
continuously strive to better understand each other and maintain regularized
communications across the government on a broad array of issues to facilitate
strong relations," she said.
As to U.S.-China relationship, Chao said it is
significant to both countries and to the world economy. "The U.S.-China
relationship has become central to each nation's interest and to maintaining a
stable, secure and prosperous global economy," she told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration is committed to a
high-level engagement with China for the duration of the administration, she
As to the Chinese officials she has met, she
described them as "very dedicated, hardworking, sincere, well-spoken, prepared
and open and committed to serve their country."
As a Chinese American and as the first Chinese
American secretary of labor in the U.S. government, Chao told Xinhua she is very
proud of her Chinese heritage.
"We have much to treasure in our Chinese heritage. I
believe my bicultural background has given me great guidance and advantage as I
have faced life's opportunities and challenges," she said.
Chao was most grateful to her parents, as they taught
her discipline, sacrifice, hard work and pride in her cultural heritage. "My
parents are instrumental in who I am today. They believed in me, encouraged and
guided me and gave me much strength and courage," she said.
Chao is married to Mitch McConnell (R-K), the
Republican Senate leader who she said is "a leader with great strength and
always tries to understand others."
Chao, who emigrated to the United States from Taiwan
at the age of eight with her family, was nominated by President Bush and then
confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the secretary of labor on Jan. 29,2001. She has
become the fourth longest-serving secretary of labor in U.S. history.