Clinton calls for broader relations between US, China (Roundup)
By Mike McCarthy Jan 14, 2011, 16:57 GMT
Washington - US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for broader relations between the United States and China on Friday and said the two countries must work closely to rein an increasingly 'belligerent' North Korea.
Clinton said the US and Chinese relations are at a 'critical juncture' as Chinese President Hu Jintao is set to visit Washington next week on an official state visit. The two countries must strive to cooperate to 'shape the trajectory of this relationship' and cope with international challenges.
'And over the past two years in the Obama administration we have created the opportunity for deeper, broader and more sustained cooperation,' Clinton said in a speech at the State Department.
'We have seen some early successes and also some frustrations. And moving forward, it is up to both of us to more consistently translate positive words into effective cooperation,' she added.
North Korea's continued defiance of international demands to end its nuclear and ballistic missile activities and recent provocations with South Korea are expected to be high on the agenda when Hu meets with President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Economic issues and trade will also be prominent topics.
As North Korea's closest supporter, China has a 'special role' to play in pressuring North Korea and maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula, Clinton said.
'We have emphasized to our colleagues in Beijing that China, as a country with unique ties to North Korea and chair of the six-party talks, has a special role to play in helping to shape North Korea's behaviour,' Clinton said, referring to the six nation negotiations aimed at curtailing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
Clinton's speech came after a trip to China this week by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who said in Beijing Tuesday that North Korea's nuclear programme and increased ballistic missile capability could become a direct threat to the United States within years.
The United States has been frustrated by China's reluctance to clearly condemn the sinking of a South Korean warship in March believed to have been carried out by North Korea, and the November shelling of a South Korean island.
A failure to swiftly condemn North Korea for the provocative steps will only encourage 'this kind of reckless behavior,' Clinton said.
Clinton credited China for backing 'enhanced' UN Security Council sanctions to punish North Korea for its nuclear intransigence and ballistic missile tests.
'These efforts showed clearly that when China plays a very, very constructive part, we can produce results together that send an unequivocal message to North Korea,' Clinton said.
China has long been unwilling to come down too hard on North Korea and provides the Stalinist country with critical energy supplies, fearing a collapse of Kim Jong Il's regime would send potentially millions of North Koreans fleeing across the border.
Clinton's speech was the latest from top US officials ahead of Hu's visit. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday called on China to introduce more aggressive reforms to its economy, including a lessening of dependence on exports and focus more on domestic consumption and investment. He also said China needs to reduce trade barriers and to end a monetary policy that keeps the value of the yuan artificially low.
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