Sat, Oct 15, 2011 - Page 7 News List

US economic policy must look to Asia, Clinton says

CHALLENGES:Hillary Clinton’s speech to US business leaders did not mention China by name, but referred to concerns about ‘state control’ over growing wealth


It is time for the US to look east and make sure economic concerns drive foreign policy, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was to tell US business leaders yesterday.

Concerns about the rising power of China and the rest of Asia are clear in excerpts of a speech Clinton planned to give yesterday morning in New York. The US Department of State released the excerpts on Thursday evening.

As the US pulls out of war in Iraq and brings troops back from Afghanistan, it must turn and focus on building the kind of cross-Pacific ties that the US has had with Europe with decades, Clinton’s speech says.

“Our great challenge is not facing down any single military foe, but upholding our global leadership at a time when power is more often measured and exercised in economic terms,” the speech says.

China isn’t mentioned by name in Clinton’s excerpts, but it looms as the world’s second-largest economy and as a country that increasingly isn’t shy about showing off its weapons as well as its wealth.

Clinton’s speech takes aim at China in particular with her concerns about state control over growing wealth — a reference to the Chinese Communist Party’s tight rein on key assets. For example, China last year startled world markets and governments by briefly putting controls on shipments of its rare earth elements, materials essential to high-tech products like cellphones, in a move apparently aimed at Japan during a heated diplomatic dispute. China accounts for 97 percent of world production of the metals.

“Governments are entering markets directly through their cash reserves, natural resources and businesses they own and control — and they are shaping these markets not just for profit, but to build and exercise power,” Clinton’s speech says.

“Today we see hybrid companies masquerading as commercial actors, but actually controlled by states and acting with strategic consequences,” it says.

More broadly, the US must approach foreign policy issues with the goal of improving the troubled economy at home and finding solutions to strategic problems elsewhere, her speech says.

“To succeed, the Arab political awakening must also be an economic awakening,” it says.

Clinton was to give the speech at The Economic Club of New York.

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