China must accelerate the pace of economic reforms, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said after the first day of talks between the two nations in Beijing, but his Chinese counterpart warned change will take time.
Paulson said earlier Thursday that he plans to push for currency flexibility in China as he meets with top Chinese officials over the next two days.
"They're so big and such an economic powerhouse that the rest of the world is going to be impatient, particularly the U.S., and so they need to accelerate the reform," Paulson told a small group of reporters who traveled with him to Beijing for the inaugural session of a "strategic economic dialogue" between the two countries, according to Reuters.
On Friday (Thursday night New York time), the focus will be on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is set to give a speech in Beijing, reported CNBC's Carl Quintanilla, who's traveling with the U.S. delegation.
Paulson described the first session of the two-day talks as "productive and informative interchanges," Reuters reported. Paulson also said he agreed with a comment by Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi that America needed to better understand China's drive to reform its economy.
China "has the genuine feeling that some American friends are not only having limited knowledge of, but harboring much misunderstanding about, the reality in China," Wu said, according to CNBC's Quintanilla. "This is not conducive to the sound development of our bilateral relations."
In an interview with Quintanilla on CNBC's "Power Lunch," U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Guttierez said Wu's comments "set the tone for a very open candid discussion."
Paulson has warned against expecting breakthroughs from the two-day talks, billed as the start of a long-range dialogue. But President Bush is under pressure to show results after his Democratic rivals, including prominent critics of Beijing's trade record, won last month's congressional elections.
Paulson's delegation included Bernanke and four other Cabinet secretaries. The Chinese side included ministers of finance, commerce and technology, as well as China's central bank governor. The gathering includes side meetings on U.S.-Chinese cooperation in health, finance and other fields.
Guttierez told CNBC's Quintanilla that he sees these meetings as a unique opportunity to develop a strategic roadmap with China.