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Chinese Official: China, US Share More Interests Than Divergences on Energy Co-op

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China and the United States share more common interests than divergences on cooperation in such fields as clean energy, environment and climate change, a top Chinese official said on Monday.

"As major energy producers and consumers, China and the United States are facing such challenges as environmental pollution and climate change," Zhang Guobao, director of China's National Energy Administration (NEA), said on the sidelines of the China-US Economic and Strategic Dialogue, which started on Monday.

"The two countries share a lot more common interests than divergences and enjoy a broad prospect of cooperation," he said.

Zhang added that he and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, as well as other officials, had a good discussion on Monday.

"We exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including energy efficiency, wetland protection, natural reserves and clean transportation. But we all felt that time is too limited for us to have in-depth discussion," Zhang said.

The energy issue, climate change and environmental protection are high on the agenda of the dialogue as part of the strategic stream of discussions.

As to the future of China-US energy cooperation, Zhang said this was being pursued through such platforms as China-U.S. oil and gas forum, China-US dialogue on energy policy and others.

He added that new sessions of the dialogue and forum would be held sometime this year "focusing on new problems that had emerged in the new scenario."

China and the United States announced the establishment of a joint clean energy research center two weeks ago, when Chu and Commerce chief Gary Locke made their first visit to China since becoming cabinet members of the administration of President Barack Obama.

Each side will commit an initial financing of US$15 million and set up headquarters in both countries.

On the key issue of cutting energy consumption and reducing major pollutant emissions, Zhang said that China and the United States shared "common but differentiated responsibilities."

"The two countries have different national conditions and are in different stage of economic development, so the responsibilities should be differentiated," Zhang said.

The energy chief added that it was vital for China and the United States to discuss the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen scheduled for this December, and consultation between China and other economies was also of great importance.

"Most of the countries are actively conducting negotiations in order to reach consensus at the Copenhagen summit," Zhang said.

The China-US Economic and Strategic Dialogue, the first of its kind between the world's biggest developing and developed economy, was jointly launched by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Obama at their meeting during the G20 summit in London on April 1.

The new mechanism is a reincarnation of a biannual strategic economic dialogue set up by the two countries in 2006 and a vice-ministerial strategic dialogue launched in 2005.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan co-chaired the "Economic Track" of the dialogue with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, while Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo co-chaired the "Strategic Track" with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(Xinhua News Agency July 28, 2009)

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