U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met new Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday at a critical time in relations between the world's two largest economies, with cyber hacking, market access and the Chinese currency high on the agenda for talks
In a carefully-choreographed gathering, both officials emphasized the importance of the relationship between the world's two largest economies, and made only passing reference to contentious topics.
"I can say we have a seamless connection," said Xi, speaking in front of a tapestry depicting a pine tree and flying cranes, both symbols of hospitality. "In the China-U.S. relationship we have enormous shared interests, but of course unavoidably we have some differences."
Lew said both countries have a responsibility to promote global growth, and called on China to boost domestic demand to help in global rebalancing.
"The (U.S.) president is firmly committed to building a relationship of growing strength where we cooperate on issues of economic and strategic importance, understanding that we will each have to meet our own responsibilities, but we'll also have to manage our differences," he said.
The United States is eager for China to move toward a more consumer-oriented economy and away from investment and export-driven growth, which has contributed to a record-high $315 billion U.S. trade deficit with China last year.
Lew also called on both countries to reduce barriers to trade and investment, but did not mention concerns about China's undervalued yuan currency, a key concern for U.S. lawmakers.
U.S. companies face barriers to invest in around 100 Chinese sectors, while China has complained the United States blocks Chinese investments on unjust national security grounds.