Clinton and China Foreign Minister Talk Economy, Climate Change

BEIJING (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
and Chinese officials agreed Saturday to focus their governments'
efforts on stabilizing the battered global economy and combating
climate change, putting aside long-standing concerns about human
rights.

After a morning of talks during her inaugural visit to China as
America's top diplomat, Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang
Jiechi said a regular U.S.-China dialogue on economic issues would
be expanded to include troubling security issues.

"It is essential that the United States and China have a
positive, cooperative relationship," Clinton told reporters at a
joint news conference with Yang. She said that they also agreed on
the need to develop jointly clean energy technology that would use
renewable sources and safely store the dirty emissions from burning
coal.

With the export-heavy Chinese economy reeling from the U.S.
downturn, Clinton sought to reassure China that its massive
holdings of U.S. Treasury notes and other government debt would
remain a good investment.

"I appreciate greatly the Chinese government's continuing
confidence in United States treasuries. I think this is
well-grounded confidence," Clinton said. "We have every reason to
believe that the United States and China will recover, and together
we will help lead the world recovery."

Yang said China wants to see its foreign exchange reserves - the
world's largest at $1.95 trillion - invested safely and wanted to
continue working with the United States. "I want to emphasize here
that the facts speak louder than words. The fact is that China and
the United States have conducted good cooperation, and we are ready
to continue to talk with the U.S. side," Yang said.

Beijing is the last, and some analysts say, the most important
stop on Clinton's weeklong visit to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea
and China. She was to meet China's president and premier as well as
tour a power plant before leaving Sunday. The emphasis on the
global economy and climate change highlight the growing importance
of U.S.-China relations, which have often soured over disagreements
on human rights.

In addition to North Korea and Iran, Clinton said that she and
Yang discussed Myanmar and Sudan, two countries which receive large Chinese investments but whose governments are at odds with
Washington.

The agreement to hold regular high-level meetings on security as
well as economic issues builds on a twice-yearly "strategic
economic dialogue" started by President George W. Bush's treasury
secretary, Henry Paulson. The economic officials who met in the
Paulson dialogue would be joined by State Department and Chinese
Foreign Ministry colleagues, Clinton said.

Ahead of her talks, she told reporters that China could play a
major role in stemming global warming, improving the economic
outlook and addressing threats like North Korea's nuclear program
and tenuous security situations in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And she signaled that those issues would likely take precedence
in her discussions ahead of traditional U.S. concerns about human
rights about which Clinton said both sides already knew the other's
positions. Her stance drew immediate fire from rights groups who
said she was squandering Washington's leverage with Beijing.

"I think there is a lot of room for cooperation, which we will
be seeking," she told reporters just before arriving in China,
referring to the financial situation.

Clinton stressed the importance of dealing with climate change
with China, which has overtaken the United States as the world's
leading emitter of greenhouse gases, as well as with the nations
she visited earlier on her tour of Asia. Advocacy groups and think
tanks have urged the U.S. and China to jointly develop technologies
to cleanly use and store the emissions from burning coal, a major
source of energy for both countries.

"So many of the opportunities for clean energy, technology and
the like are going to come out of this region of the world,"
Clinton said. "Japan, South Korea and China are uniquely situated
to be part of the answer to the problem of global climate change."

"How we engage them, particularly China, is going to be an
incredibly important part of our diplomatic outreach," Clinton
said.

On security and counterterrorism, she said she would be looking
for Beijing to take a more active role in convincing North Korea to
return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and cool rising
tensions between Pyongyang, Seoul and Tokyo.

"What will China be willing to do with respect to the six-party
talks and their bilateral relationship with North Korea?" Clinton
said. "What's their perspective on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where
they have historical interests but also current commercial and
security interests?"

Clinton signaled a shift in tone Friday, saying that persisting
disagreements with China over human rights, Taiwan and Tibet should
not interfere with cooperation on broader issues.

"We have to continue to press them" on Taiwan, Tibet and human
rights, she said. "But our pressing on those issues can't
interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate
change crisis and the security crises. We have to have a dialogue
that leads to an understanding and cooperation on each of those."

Her remarks, likely to be cheered in Beijing, come ahead of a
difficult year for the authoritarian government, as it seeks to
muffle dissent ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries - 20
years since the crushing of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement and 50 since the failed Tibetan uprising that forced the Dalai Lama to flee into exile. Beijing has already tightened security in
Tibetan areas across western China, which erupted in anti-Chinese
government protests last March.

Before Clinton's arrival in Beijing, the ruling Communist
Party's newspaper People's Daily praised her and the Obama
administration for "their profound understanding of the importance
of U.S.-China relations."

But human rights groups denounced the remarks.


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