US-China relations are at a critical juncture and a summit between their leaders next week must produce “real action, on real issues” such as trade, climate change and North Korean nuclear proliferation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday.
“It is up to both nations to translate the high-level pledges of summits and state visits into action. Real action, on real issues,” she said in a major China policy address in Washington.
Clinton’s remarks are part of a week of China policy speeches by US Cabinet officials and a trip to Beijing by Defense Secretary Robert Gates aimed at setting the tone for President Barack Obama’s Jan. 19 Washington summit with President Hu Jintao.
Some US analysts see Hu’s trip as the most important state visit in 30 years, as the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies try to put behind them an unusually stormy 2010 and lock in forward-looking ties for the coming years.
“America and China have arrived at a critical juncture, a time when the choices we make — big and small will shape the trajectory of this relationship,” she said.
Echoing earlier remarks by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Clinton urged China to let its currency appreciate faster, end discrimination against US companies and further open its markets to manufactured goods and farm products.
On global problems, the United States wants China to “step up to more of its obligations to work more actively with us to solve problems,” she said.
“Global recession, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, piracy on the high seas these are threats that affect us all, including China. And China should join us in confronting them,” Clinton said.
Washington and Beijing sparred last year over long-standing issues such as US arms sales to Taiwan, the status of Tibet’s Dalai Lama and human rights. They also became embroiled in spats over newer problems including deadly North Korean attacks on South Korea, South China Sea navigation rights, and trade in rare earth minerals.
Clinton urged people in both countries to put aside “zero-sum 19th century theories of how major powers interact” and face the challenges of globalization together.
“Some in the region and some here at home see China’s growth as a threat that will lead either to Cold War-style conflict or American decline, and some in China worry that the United States is bent on containing China’s rise and constraining China’s growth,” she said.
“We reject those views,” Clinton said.