“The relationship between the U.S. and China will shape the 21st century” said President Barack Obama, as top U.S. and Chinese officials met in Washington for the first meeting of a “Strategic and Economic Dialogue”.

President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo each addressed the opening session of the two-day meeting.

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is expected to focus on working towards economic recovery, climate change, security, the spread of nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran, crating clean and secure energy source, and the economy all areas where common ground existed.

“The current crisis has made it clear that the choices made within our borders reverberate across the global economy – and this is true not just of New York and Seattle, but Shanghai and Shenzhen as well,” said President Obama.

President Obama also emphasized that the U.S. and China must remain committed to strong bilateral and multilateral coordination.

“The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world. That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear,” President Obama said.

“With the furthering of China’s reform and opening up, China and the United States will have even closer economic cooperation and trade relations and (the) China-US relationship will surely keep moving forward,” he said.

Mr Wang added that the opening up of China’s economy could help the U.S. recovery.

The U.S. and Chinese top officials meeting in Washington

But there are areas of contention. The US is expected to push China to rely less on exports and to focus more on encouraging its domestic market due to the U.S. manufacturers can’t compete fairly with their Chinese competitors, accusing Beijing of deliberately devaluing its currency to make its exports seem cheaper.

Simultaneously China is worried about the value of the U.S. dollar because it holds huge amounts of US debt – more than $800bn of U.S. Treasury securities alone.  China also fears that President Obama’s stimulus spending will stroke inflation in the U.S., and of course, eroding the value of the dollar and making the U.S. debt China holds worth a lot less.

President Obama said that although the US and China would not agree on everything, but he believed the two could make progress on pressing global challenges like trade, emissions and proliferation.

On the economy, Clinton and Geithner praised the U.S. and China for taking bold steps to deal with the global economic crisis and Americans must rebuild their savings, strengthen the U.S. financial system and invest in energy, education and health care.

On security issues, Clinton and Geithner highlighted the “provocative actions of North Korea,” stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and economic possibilities in Africa.

Will the new dialogue of the big two countries shape the 21st century? Will Obama administration be a success of enhancing the world economy? Or will it be a failure?

Sources: BBC News, CNN, CCTV