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Remarks at the U.S.-China Conference on Innovation and Commercialization

Daniel Sullivan, Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
Remarks at the U.S.-China Conference on Innovation and Commercialization
Beijing, China
December 2, 2008

I would like to begin by giving my heartfelt thanks to Ministry of Science and Technology Vice Minister Cao Jianlin for hosting this conference.  Also, thanks to Ambassador Randt, the longest serving U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, and a leader on so many issues, including innovation and intellectual property rights.  We are honored to be joined by keynote speakers Dean Xue Lan of Tsinghua University and Donald Whiteside, Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs and Director, Global Public Policy, Intel Corp., along with our other speakers. Thank you. Thanks also to the many conference attendees from the U.S. and Chinese private sectors, academic communities, and governments, and to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Information Technology Office for sponsoring a reception this evening.

It is a pleasure to be back in Beijing again—a place I have traveled to many times during my tenure as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs.  Each time I have traveled here, my fundamental goal has been to explore and encourage ways our two countries can cooperate on issues of global importance—energy security, open investment, and open markets are just a few of those issues.

As two of the world’s most important economies, I am convinced, more than ever, that as we work to promote our common interests in such areas as economics, trade, energy security and climate change, the United States benefits, China benefits, and, indeed, the world benefits.

For literally thousands of years, the Chinese people have been at the forefront of technological innovation—paper, moveable type, gunpowder, and the compass being just a few examples. More recently, the United States has become a driving force behind the emergence of high technology as well. It makes sense, then, that our two governments come together to ensure there continues to be an environment in which such advances can be made. 

I am encouraged by the open and honest dialogue on key innovation issues represented by today’s conference.  Such dialogue helps both the United States and China move towards a shared goal of promoting and protecting the innovation ecosystem, and building innovation ecosystems globally.  We both now recognize that factors related to innovation, such as investment in R&D, information and communications technologies, and human capital development, play a more central role in the overall growth of our economies than previously understood.

The Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) V Innovation and Commercialization Conference is a follow-up to the successful December 2007 SED III Building an Innovative Ecosystem Conference, which contributed to strengthened innovation cooperation through discussion of a broad range of innovation issues.  

One of the primary purposes of today’s conference is to explore ways to facilitate an innovation environment in which foreign and domestic businesses and investors can participate fully in the range of innovative industries in a transparent and market-oriented legal, financial, and regulatory environment.

Today our goal is to examine and advance our common interest in promoting, protecting and commercializing innovation. Our leaders know the value and importance of this issue. I have had the honor and privilege of being involved with the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue since its inception, having traveled with Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson to China for his first visit to set up the Strategic Economic Dialogue. In every Strategic Economic Dialogue, U.S. and Chinese leaders have promoted and emphasized the importance of innovation.

Indeed, so have all of the leaders from the World’s major economies. Just two weeks ago, at the Washington Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, in addressing the serious challenges to the world economy and financial markets, leaders stated, “Our work will be guided by a shared belief that market principles, open trade and investment regimes, and effectively regulated financial markets foster the dynamism, innovation, and entrepreneurship that are essential for economic growth, employment, and poverty reduction.”

Thus, our leaders clearly recognize the importance of innovation. But promoting and encouraging innovation in many ways is easier said than done. Creating a vibrant innovation ecosystem requires a confluence of factors – policies and actors – coming together in a coherent, mutually reinforcing way. With regard to policies, it is important that regulatory, administrative, and judicial conditions underpin and support innovation, that openness, competition, and neutral standards and strong intellectual property rights spur and protect innovation. And with regard to actors, innovation is best promoted when governments, universities, research institutions, and the private sector work together to share ideas, network and create value. And that is why I am so excited about our conference today – because this is exactly the kind of group we have assembled here.

I hope we can have some open, frank, and candid discussions with participation and questions from the audience. We will report the outcomes of these discussions and our conclusions to the broader U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, of which this conference is a part.

Thank you.


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