State’s Negroponte Optimistic on U.S.-China Relations

By Susan Krause
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - The United States is seeking real partnership with "a prosperous China" that is stable, respectful of its citizens' rights and at peace with its neighbors, says Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.

With a new round of high-level U.S.-China talks scheduled for later in May, Negroponte told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the United States accepts China's increasing economic, political and diplomatic influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

"Our policy is to encourage China's integration as a responsible member of the global economy and international system as whole," he said.  "Even though serious bilateral differences remain, we believe we have grounds for optimism in achieving this overarching goal."

Negroponte listed six broad objectives for U.S.-China relations: 

• Maintaining peace and stability in East Asia;

• Sustaining economic growth in China and in the world as a whole while guaranteeing energy security and protecting the environment;

• Preventing weapons proliferation and combating terrorism and transnational crime;

• Blocking the spread of infectious diseases, including pandemic influenza;

• Developing effective international responses to humanitarian crises; and

• Promoting human rights and religious freedom.

The deputy secretary praised China's "constructive leadership role" as host of multilateral talks on North Korea's nuclear programs and said he was encouraged by improvements in relations between China and Japan. 

"China's improved relations with its neighbors are a testament to the country's robust trade ties, but also to China's increasingly skillful diplomacy," he said. 


Negroponte mentioned the Middle East and Africa as areas beyond the Asia-Pacific region where China has increasing interests and influence.  In particular, he said, China could have a substantial impact on nuclear activities in Iran. 

"China shares our assessment that Teheran must not obtain nuclear weapons capability," Negroponte told the committee.  In response to the Iranian regime's failure to comply with international obligations, he said, China and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in March adopted a unanimous resolution, UNSCR 1747, which imposed sanctions under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. (See related article.)

"We expect China to fully implement its obligations under UNSCR 1747 to exercise restraint in the sale of heavy arms and missile technology to Iran," Negroponte said.  He called on Beijing to suspend investment in Iran's oil and gas sectors as well.

In Africa, he said, the U.S. government has urged China to use its leverage to convince the government of Sudan to allow deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force to end atrocities in the province of Darfur. (See related article.)

"China purchased more than $1.9 billion worth of Sudanese oil last year," Negroponte said.  "Beijing is seen as Khartoum's diplomatic patron and benefactor." 


Although China is the United States' fastest-growing major export market, Negroponte said, there are "significant challenges" to the bilateral economic relationship, mostly as a result of China's "incomplete transition to a market economy."

He mentioned intellectual property rights protection, China's exchange rate policy, and services trade as areas of contention. 

Negroponte said the two countries have a mutual interest in energy security and are cooperating in efforts to ensure stable energy markets, support increased efficiency, and develop cleaner technologies.

Senior officials from the two countries will meet in Washington May 21-24 for a second round of the Strategic Economic Dialogue, led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the U.S. side and by Vice Premier Wu Yi on the Chinese side.  The initial round of the talks took place in Beijing in December 2006. (See  related article.)


Negroponte said the United States will continue to press China on a range of human rights issues, including rights of speech and expression, assembly, and religion.  "We also believe that China's people should have a meaningful say in how they are governed and to take part in the conduct of public affairs," he said.  "These are fundamental rights stipulated in international human rights instruments, as well as in China's own Constitution."

The United States "coordinate[s] with other countries in the international community who share concerns about human rights in China," Negroponte said.

"Our message is clear:  China will not be considered a leader in the international system until it develops a more open, transparent, and free society, unleashing the innovation and creativity of its own people," he said.

The full text of Negroponte's opening statement to the Foreign Affairs Committee is available on the committee's Web site.

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