Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Clinton focuses on economic issues

WHAT ABOUT RIGHTS?The US secretary of state talked about the economy and security issues as Chinese activists complained dissidents were being monitored

AP , BEIJING

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese officials say they will expand high-level talks on economic issues to include troubling security matters as well.

The two nations also agreed yesterday to cooperate on stabilizing the global economy and combating climate change, putting aside long-standing concerns about human rights.

With the export-heavy Chinese economy reeling from the US downturn, Clinton sought in meetings with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) and other top Chinese government leaders to reassure Beijing that its massive holdings of US 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 that’s a well-grounded confidence,” Clinton told reporters at a joint news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎). “We have every reason to believe that the United States and China will recover and together we will help lead the world recovery.”

After a day of talks on her first visit to China as the US’ top diplomat, Clinton and Yang said a regular high-level US-China dialogue on economic matters would be expanded to include security issues.

Details of the dialogue are to be finalized by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) when they meet at an economic summit in London in early April, Clinton said.

Yang said China wants its foreign exchange reserves — the world’s largest at US$1.95 trillion — invested safely, with good value and liquidity. He said future decisions on using them would be based on those principles, but added that China wanted to continue to work with the US.

“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 US side,” Yang said.

The emphasis on the global economy, climate change and security highlight the growing importance of US-China relations, which have often soured over disagreements on human rights.

Authorities in Beijing are facing a difficult year on the rights front as they deal with politically sensitive anniversaries — 20 years since the crushing of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and 50 years since the failed Tibetan uprising that forced the Dalai Lama to flee into exile.

Activists complained yesterday that Chinese police were monitoring dissidents and had confined some to their homes during Clinton’s two-day visit. Several of those targeted had signed Charter 08, an unusually open call for civil rights and political reforms that circulated in December, China Human Rights Defenders said.

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