U.S., China Can Be Global Partners, State's Zoellick Says

By Todd Bullock
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The United States wants China to be a partner in promoting positive economic and security relations in the international community, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick says.

In an April 17 speech to the International Institute for Economics, Zoellick said the upcoming meeting between President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao "will not only be a forum for bilateral discussions but will address global issues challenging the international community."

The two leaders are scheduled to hold discussions April 20 on issues including the War on Terror, nonproliferation and human rights, according to the White House. (See related article.)

Zoellick said Bush and Hu also will discuss avian influenza (bird flu), immigration and energy needs.


Integrating China into the international marketplace had been a goal of U.S. policy toward China for the past two decades. That goal has been advanced with China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 and its "incredible" economic development, Zoellick said.

According to the deputy secretary, the future of U.S.-China relations depends on forging a partnership between the two countries within the international system, as well as ensuring that China develops as a responsible global partner.

Because of the size of the U.S. and Chinese economies, both have the capacity to have a positive influence on the international system and can have greater impact if they work as partners rather than individually, he said.


At the same time, both countries have domestic considerations that affect bilateral relations, the deputy secretary said.

On the U.S. side, Zoellick said, Americans want to see U.S.-China trade as a fair process that benefits both countries.

The deputy praised recent senior-level trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials during which China agreed to greater market access for U.S. goods and more transparency in its economic reporting. (See related article.)

He also welcomed specific actions by the Chinese delegation, which signed contracts for more than $16.2 billion worth of U.S. goods and services.

"This was not merely a single purchase by the Chinese but a signal to the American public of the beginning of a series of mutually beneficial business relations," Zoellick said.

In addition, the deputy secretary acknowledged China's pledges to do more to protect intellectual property rights and implement a more flexible exchange rate for its currency.


Another concern for the American public is the status of human rights and freedom of speech in China, the deputy secretary said, noting that the United States wants to develop an institutional dialogue on these issues with the Chinese leadership.

China also has a common interest with the United States in improving security in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.  Zoellick praised China's pledge of $230 million for reconstruction activities in Afghanistan as well as Beijing's commitment to provide the Afghan army with nonlethal support equipment.

Zoellick said the goal of China's leadership should be to assure the international community that the country's economic growth is "peaceful development" that embraces the international system rather than challenges it.

For example, he said, China's accession to the WTO demonstrates the country's willingness to play by international rules.

According to Zoellick, China's internal economic development closely is linked to its "international posture," as China's trade with other countries provides the funding and materials for such development.

China is trying to increase its exports as well as its domestic consumption of goods and services, he said, adding that even though China has made tremendous economic gains in a short period of time, Chinese leaders are sensitive to the fact that the country as a whole is still in a process of development, especially in the interior and western parts of the country.

As a result, China sees its trade relationship with the United States as crucial for maintaining its national economic performance, which in turn deters potential unrest in its society, he said.

For more information on U.S. policy, see The United States and China.