"Our fortune and fate are tied together like never before. And the world's two largest economies -- the United States and China -- must engage with each other to advance the shared goals of expanding opportunities and prosperities," US Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J. Sanchez said while attending a forum held by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
He said the steps that both nations need to take to achieve these goals include eliminating the barriers that hinder trade, increasing investment with each other, achieving greater economic integration between Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland.
In general, the two countries need to enhance their understanding of each other, the US official said.
While government-to-government dialogues are needed, more should be done on enhancing people-to-people interactions, he said.
"When people in different countries don't know each other, and don't take the time to really understand each other, misunderstandings and misinformation happen. And I think it is true with the relations between the US and China," he said.
China and the U.S. have held four rounds of "Strategic and Economic Dialogue" in the past several years, and the fifth round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue will be held in Washington, D.C. during the week of July 8-12 this year.
Sanchez also said the US government encourages investment from China and fears that Chinese companies are buying out the US are unfounded. Investments fuel economic growth, and for the US and China to reach their full potential as partners, both need to ensure the channels for investments are as wide as possible, he said.
"China represents the fastest growing source of foreign direct investment in the US Since 2006, FDI from China to the US has grown at an average rate of 71 percent every single year. And I believe there is even more room for growth."
There were a few cases that, for reasons of national security, are deemed not to be approved. But those are of very small percentage. About 98 percent of those investments from China came into the U.S. without any restriction or problem, he said.
Sanchez said trade with China was the key to growth of US exports. US exports to China exceeded 100 billion US dollars in 2011, and last year, it increased six percent to about 110 billion US dollars. Such exports generated economic activities and supported job creation in the US.
Quoting two opinion polls by Gallup, he also told the forum that more Americans are seeing trade with others a good thing for the US economy.
In 2009, 47 percent of Americans found that trade was bad for the US economy while 44 percent thought it was good. In January this year, 57 percent of Americans believed trade was good for the US economy and it was creating jobs, while 35 percent still thought it was bad for the US.
"So there has been a change. I think we have been making progress both on trade and investment," he said.