Bloomberg News

Clinton Says China Must Reform Rules to Ensure Economic Vitality

November 16, 2011

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- China must end discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies, improve its human rights record and make political reforms to create a stronger foundation for economic growth and stability, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today.

Clinton, speaking today in Honolulu, Hawaii at a meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders, reaffirmed U.S. intent to seek trade agreements, bilateral alliances, and new regional groups.

President Barack Obama is committed to a “positive and cooperative relationship” with China, which is central to the administration’s vision of an Asian-oriented future, Clinton said.

“Some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States, while some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China,” Clinton said in prepared remarks. “In fact, a thriving American is good for China and a thriving China is good for America.”

The secretary is in Hawaii ahead of Obama, who will attend the APEC Summit and then visit Australia and Indonesia.

The top U.S. diplomat offered a warning to her countrymen who advocate scaling back international efforts at a time of economic difficulty.

Staying Engaged

“This thinking is understandable, but it is mistaken,” Clinton said. “What will happen in Asia in the years ahead will have an enormous impact on our nation’s future. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and leave it to others to determine our future for us.”

With the war winding down in Iraq and a transition under way in Afghanistan, the U.S. can focus on Asia, Clinton said.

The U.S. will remain committed to the one-China policy and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as to a “strong relationship with Taiwan, an important security and economic partner,” Clinton said.

On the economic front, Clinton said China and the U.S. must work together to ensure balanced future economic growth. U.S. firms want opportunities to export to China and a “level playing field for competition,” while Chinese firms want to be able to buy more high-tech U.S. products, she said.

That will be possible when China takes steps to reform, she said.

‘Unfair Discrimination’

Clinton called on China “to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies, or against their innovative technologies,” Clinton said. She also called on China to let its currency appreciate and do more to prevent piracy of intellectual property.

The U.S. will push for countries like Vietnam and Burma to become more open, Clinton said. “Openness, freedom, transparency and fairness all have meaning beyond the business realm,” Clinton said.

Burma is showing the “first stirrings of change in decades,” she noted. “Should the government pursue genuine and lasting reform for the benefit of all its citizens, it will find a partner in the United States.”

As long as North Korea demonstrates “persistent disregard” for its own citizens and threatens regional security, the U.S. will continue to speak out forcefully against that regime, Clinton said.

Clinton spoke in Honolulu on the first leg of an Asian tour that will take her to the Philippines, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of a mutual defense treaty, to Thailand for bilateral meetings, and to Indonesia for a meeting of the East Asian Summit.

--Editors: Terry Atlas, Steven Komarow

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington at ngaouette@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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