Washington hosts China-US Social and Cultural Dialogue meeting

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Washington hosts China-US Social and Cultural Dialogue meeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, accompanied by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, welcomes Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong during a working breakfast at the State Department, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on his way to China. This comes just hours after a meeting he had in Washington with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong.

Liu and her delegation were participating in the China-U.S. Social and Cultural Dialogue—an event aimed at strengthening cross-cultural relations.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Before leaving for Beijing on Thursday, Tillerson played host to Liu Yandong. The Chinese Vice Premier and her delegation spent the morning behind closed doors with the Americans. They discussed how to best enhance social and cultural areas of cooperation.

But before heading in, CGTN asked Tillerson about his priorities for the trip:

“Preparations for President Trump’s important visit, so we want to talk about the agenda for that visit,” said U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson. “And then we’ll continue our discussions on a number of other issues that are important; certainly North Korea will be on the table for this discussion.”

Tillerson was then asked if that’s more important than trade, but did not comment on that.

The Trump administration has been using trade with China—now estimated to be worth more than a half a trillion dollars annually—as leverage to pressure Beijing to act against Pyongyang.

The Korean nuclear issue will likely top the agenda when U.S. President Donald Trump visits China later this year.

In April, his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, was in Mar-a-Lago, Florida where he and Trump agreed to launch the China-US Comprehensive Dialogue. The two hoped it could help boost relations beyond the hot-button issues.

The Dialogue’s “Four Pillars” included Social and Cultural exchanges. Speaking at a George Washington University, Liu said young people can play a crucial role.

“It is easier for the seeds of friendship to take root and burgeon in the hearts of young people,” said Vice Premier Liu. “These young people need to pass on, guard, and explore Chinese friendship, so that the friendship between our two countries will be carried forward.”

Liu announced that China will fund 10,000 scholarships for Americans to come study in China. There are currently about 14,000 Americans going to school in China, compared to more than 300,000 Chinese students now studying in the U.S.