Tags: U.S. | Sends | Strong | Signal | China

U.S. Sends Strong Signal to China

Friday, 01 February 2002 12:00 AM

In a carefully prepared speech Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said relations between China and the United States "will be a key determinant of whether peaceful competition or aggressive rivalry dominates this new century."

He said the prospects for peace "depend significantly" on the maintenance and acceleration of China's path to openness to the outside world and acceptance of international norms.

In his presentation to the influential U.S.-China Council in Washington, Zoellick noted China "is still a dictatorship."

"That's strong and undiplomatic language,” said senior diplomats close to the Bush administration. "They [the United States] obviously want something."

A number of Western officials who declined to be identified said Zoellick was "spot on."

This is "very political and unusual," said an ambassador from a major Asian power. "Washington is upping the ante."

"They are putting the Chinese on the defensive," noted one top envoy and linked the comments to moves by the Bush administration to "create some negotiating chips I suppose ahead of the summit."

Zoellick said a high priority of far-seeing U.S. strategy "is to avoid drift or cataclysm leading to a repetition of the poison and perils" of an earlier era marked by U.S.-China confrontation in Korea and Vietnam.

The U.S. official alluded to the recent entry by China to the 144-country World Trade Organization with its system of agreed rules that foster openness and commercial fair play to reinforce China's pursuit of fundamental reform.

Concerning the WTO, Zoellick said China had undertaken many impressive obligations but also stressed that Washington "will look to China to keep all, not some of its obligations."

Between the lines, Zoellick is saying to Beijing that despite the political tensions in China related to their WTO membership reforms, the United States expects them to deliver, said an Asian ambassador.

"He’s sending a signal: ‘We’re top dog, don't challenge us,’" said a Western European diplomat.

China is already flexing its muscles in the WTO forum as an important and tough player, a WTO ambassador told United Press International.

"China can make a great contribution to opening markets if it uses its influence to encourage policies that China itself has followed,” Zoellick said. "It is not a given that China will do so."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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In a carefully prepared speech Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said relations between China and the United States will be a key determinant of whether peaceful competition or aggressive rivalry dominates this new century. He said the prospects for...
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2002-00-01
Friday, 01 February 2002 12:00 AM
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