On his first visit to China as Secretary of State on April 13-14, 2013, John Kerry met with the top echelon of China's new leadership. During his 24-hour visit, the Secretary conferred with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. At the top of the bilateral agenda was the subject of North Korea, and the two sides underscored their commitment to the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Both sides also articulated a vision of how a stronger economic partnership between the two most powerful economies in the world can play a key role in global economic security.
An important focus of the visit was cooperation on energy and climate change. The United States and China issued a joint statement on climate change and agreed to make the issue a part of the next, fifth, session of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. The Secretary addressed the interlocked issues of energy and the environment during an energy cooperation event featuring representatives of energy corporations, technology companies, and environmental non-governmental organizations. While touring exhibits of new energy technologies, the Secretary remarked that the technologies on display represent the "groundbreaking thinking" that will help meet 21st-century energy challenges.
The visit did not lack for picturesque backdrops: from the imposing Great Hall of the People, where the Secretary met President Xi, and the beautifully landscaped Diaoyutai State Guesthouse compound to the former imperial Beihai Park, where the Secretary and his party enjoyed an impromptu walk.
The Secretary kindly took time out of this busy schedule to visit with U.S. Embassy staff and their families. Noting that the work they do pays real dividends for the American economy, he congratulated the embassy for its efforts promoting travel and trade between the United States and China. Highlighting the special challenges of diplomatic work, he told embassy staff, "Every day that we get up, we get to go out and try to change the world."