US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied on Thursday the United States was seeking to contain China as she began a two-week trip to an Asia-Pacific region rattled by recent Chinese assertiveness.
Washington and Beijing have clashed this year over issues including the value of China's currency, US arms sales to Taiwan and US President Barack Obama's February meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
China's relations with its neighbours have also been strained by territorial disputes — notably with Japan — but also with Southeast Asian nations that have competing claims over the South China Sea.
The top US diplomat, starting a trip to seven Asia-Pacific nations including China, sought to strike a balance between the US desire to work with Beijing and its concerns about some Chinese policies.
“The relationship between China and the United States is complex and of enormous consequence and we are committed to getting it right,” Clinton said in a speech on US Asia-Pacific policy delivered in Honolulu. “There are some in both countries who believe that China's interests and ours are fundamentally at odds. They apply a zero-sum calculation ... so whenever one of us succeeds, the other must fail,” she said. “But that is not our view.”
While saying the two nations work together on many issues, Clinton also alluded to their many differences, including US desires to see the Chinese currency appreciate as well as US criticism of China's human rights record.
“There are also many in China who still believe that the US is bent on containing China and I would simply point out that since the beginning of our diplomatic relations, China has experienced breathtaking growth and development,” she said.
“This is due, of course, to the hard work of the Chinese people. But US policy has consistently — through Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses — supported this goal since the 1970s,” she said.
China, Japan meet amid tension
China and Japan met on Friday, in an attempt to repair soured relations over a maritime territorial dispute, with Japan asking for the lifting of a block on rare earth exports, crucial to its high-tech manufacturing.
China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara went into private talks on the sidelines of a regional Asian summit, hoping to lay the foundation for a meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
“The discussion took place in a good atmosphere. It was held calmly while both sides said what we should say. I believe it is likely that the leaders of China and Japan will hold a meeting here in Hanoi,” Maehara told reporters after the hour-plus talks in the Vietnamese capital.
The two countries have sought to repair ties brought to a new low after a Chinese fishing trawler collided with Japanese patrol boats last month near disputed islands in the East China Sea. ap, Hanoi