Clinton 'reintroduces' US to Asia
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up her trip to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and China on Sunday. Her aim was to reenergize key ties to the region.
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Clinton said there was an "acute and immediate need" for the two countries to address the world economic crisis together, "designing and implementing a coordinated global response."Skip to next paragraph
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She also repeatedly stressed her hope that China and the United States, the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, would cooperate in forging a common approach to climate change, an issue scarcely addressed before in bilateral talks.
Upgrading the 'strategic dialogue'
To deal with such questions, and with security issues such as North Korea's and Iran's nuclear capacities, Clinton and her Chinese counterpart Yan Jiechi said they were planning to upgrade the "strategic dialogue" that until now has focused on economics, to include political questions.
Beijing would like the dialogue to involve Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, according to Chinese sources familiar with the plan.
"I am not sure the substance of the relationship will be improved," he warns, since the Obama administration has shown no signs of being willing to suspend arms sales to Taiwan, nor to end the ban on selling arms and dual-use high technology to Beijing, issues that irk the Chinese government.
In practice, too, Professor Yan points out, it may be difficult for Beijing to agree to the sort of carbon emission caps that Washington will press for at a summit later this year in Copenhagen to negotiate a new treaty that will replace the Kyoto Protocol.
Playing down human rights
On a visit designed to "lay the basis for future relations," says Yan, it was not surprising that Clinton chose to play down human rights violations in China – a subject on which she spoke so vehemently here 14 years ago that the authorities pulled the plug on live TV coverage of her speech.
This time, she told reporters, "pressing on those issues" such as Tibet, Taiwan, and human rights "can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crises. We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and cooperation on each of those."
Clinton said she had nonetheless raised human rights issues in her talks with Chinese leaders, and would continue to do so.
• Don Kirk in Seoul, South Korea and Takehiko Kambayashi in Tokyo contributed to this article.