Rice's Bowl Around China

Condoleezza Rice didn't kowtow to Beijing during her first official trip there as secretary of State. In fact, she showed a balanced approach by both respecting China as a rising power and telling its leaders where they are erring.

On issues of Taiwan, trade, North Korea, human rights, and arms sales, she was both forthright and stern in defining limits on what the US will tolerate. At the same time, she indicated a willingness to allow room for the new leadership under President Hu Jintao to shift its policies.

Just before her arrival, in fact, the US cut a deal: It wouldn't introduce a resolution at the UN criticizing China on human rights this year in return for a number of steps by Beijing, such as releasing a Muslim political prisoner and promising not to make religious education of children a crime.

Ms. Rice was clear that the US will not let China's military dominate Asia or Taiwan - a point Europe seems to accept as it backs away from starting arms sales to China. And on trade, she criticized China's slow progress to accept international trade rules.

And she displayed the limits of US tolerance toward China by suggesting the US would seek other options on North Korea's nuclear ambitions if Beijing didn't bring its ally to heel.

Such truthtelling, done graciously, is the best way to deal with China.

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