Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | 10:00 PM EDT

His Excellency Wen Jiabao, Premier of People’s Republic of China, expressed optimism about the future of U.S.-China bilateral relations at a dinner co-hosted in his honor by the National Committee and the US-China Business Council. Held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, the dinner began with remarks by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who both marveled at China’s rapid growth and stressed the importance of the bilateral relationship. During his address, Premier Wen said, “The common interest between our two countries far outweighs our differences.” He added, “Our bilateral relationship not only involves the interests of our two people but has gone far beyond the bilateral scope to have an impact on the whole world. Thus, we don’t have any reason to let our relationship backpedal. We have thousands and tens of thousands of reasons to move this relationship forward.” On the evening before a scheduled meeting with President Obama, Premier Wen addressed a crowd of Western policy and business leaders, delving into issues such as China’s commitment to openness and reform and China’s dedication to peaceful development. He also emphasized the strategic importance of mutual trust, stating, “trust is the very foundation of friendship and cooperation,” and suggested that one way to achieve that would be cross-cultural exchange for young Americans and Chinese. This was Premier Wen’s only speech on U.S.-China relations in his September visit to the United Nations. “I was impressed by the comprehensiveness and warmth of Premier Wen’s talk,” said Steve Orlins, president of the National Committee. “He spoke for the first ten minutes from the heart and it really was from the heart. And the remainder was a comprehensive overview of what the relationship is and should be.” The America China Forum, Asia Society, China General Chamber of Commerce-USA, China Institute, Committee of 100, Council on Foreign Relations, U.S.-Chamber of Commerce, and U.S.-China Policy Foundation worked in cooperation with the two hosts organizations.