People-to-people relationships essential to U.S.-China relations, Clinton tells embassy staff in Beijing

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prominently featured the role of exchanges in her remarks to staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing during her travels to China earlier this month.

Acknowledging that the relationship between China and the U.S. is “a complicated relationship,” Clinton affirmed the administration’s strong belief in U.S.-China relations and the crucial role people-to-people exchanges play in fostering and maintaining strong ties between the two countries:

“When we talk about our people-to-people exchanges … It was genuinely moving to see the young American student and the young Chinese student talking about what it had meant to their lives to have studied in the other country – when we talk about the 100,000 Strong, when we are trying to convey more clearly what Americans stand for, when we had the Shanghai Expo and the USA pavilion was staffed by young Americans of every ethnic and racial background, speaking Chinese, hosting all of the visitors who were coming, we are building connections, government-to-government, people-to-people.”

In addition, Clinton hailed the efforts by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and his embassy staff to ease travel to the U.S. for Chinese citizens by dropping visa wait times from more than 50 days last year to what is now six days:

“When you translate those visas into tourist spending and new business investment, it has a direct impact on our own economic recovery back home. So more Chinese students, more business people, more tourists. And I understand you are on pace to process as many as 1.4 million visa applications this year.”