The Bush administration says the United States and China face daunting energy challenges that the two nations should confront together. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson spoke before next week's meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue.

The United States remains the world's largest consumer of energy, but China's energy consumption is growing at the world's fastest pace. Both nations rely heavily on imported fuel, particularly oil, and the current spike in global oil prices is inflicting pain on both sides of the Pacific.

Treasury Secretary Paulson says the United States and China have common problems and common interests when it comes to energy.

"As the two largest net-importers of oil, China and the United States face similar challenges. We have a strong, shared interest in avoiding supply disruptions, increasing energy efficiency, promoting the efficiency and transparency of global energy markets to the benefit of all oil-importing nations, and expanding the availability and use of alternative energy sources," said Paulson.

Paulson was speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said he looks forward to meeting with his Chinese counterpart and other officials during next week's meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in Annapolis, Maryland - the organization's fourth Cabinet-level meeting.

Paulson noted that China has embraced price controls in an effort to curb soaring energy costs. He said the United States implemented a similar program in the 1970s with disastrous results: severe fuel shortages and a reduction in investments to boost energy supplies.

He urged China to allow greater reliance on the free market to determine energy prices, while also embracing new technologies to reduce consumption and promote conservation.

The secretary said Strategic Economic Dialogue discussions will go beyond energy matters to include overall trade between the two countries, currency valuation, the markedly high savings rate in China and the markedly low U.S. savings rate, as well as environmental issues.

Paulson said the United States will continue to marshal funds and resources to assist China as it struggles to recover from last month's devastating earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.