Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Negroponte says one highlight of the Bush
administration's eight years in office has been Washington's efforts to forge
closer American relations with China. He spoke to reporters Thursday, during a
visit to China to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of Sino-American ties.
Secretary of State John Negroponte says he believes historians will have
positive things to say when looking back at the Bush administration's efforts to
strengthen Sino-American relations.
He points to significantly increased
trade between the two countries, as well as cooperation on regional and global
"One issue I'd particularly like to highlight is the
fact that our two presidents established a very close, personal relationship.
They met quite frequently," he said. "Just to set an example, they met twice in
the month of November, alone. They've had extensive telephone contact and
Negroponte calls the changes in the U.S.-China
relationship "dramatic," and says the broad range of exchanges are "on a scale
and depth" that could not have been imagined when the two countries first
re-established diplomatic ties, in 1979.
He says the two main challenges
for the U.S.-China relationship, in the near future, revolve around regional
security issues and the global economic crisis.
When asked about whether
the United States continues to place importance on issues like human rights,
Negroponte assured journalists the answer was, and will likely continue to be,
"I'd be reluctant to predict how the next administration will handle
specific issues in the relationship," added Negroponte. "Although, since human
rights, concern for human rights, is a fundamental tenet of American foreign
policy, I expect to see human rights concerns to continue in the next
Another issue of interest to people in both countries is
whether the United States and China will continue to maintain the current
framework of bilateral discussions.
The Strategic Economic Dialogue and
Senior Dialogue, both established during the Bush administration, provide for
regular, high-level bilateral meetings.
Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokesman Qin Gang said he hopes such meetings continue.
Qin says such
meetings should be maintained, because China and the United States, in his
words, need dialogue and cooperation.
Qin says there was a popular
saying, before the two sides established relations, that American visitors to
China were scarcer than endangered pandas.
Now, though, he says the two
countries exchange about two-million visitors a year.