Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held what she said were productive talks Wednesday
in preparation for President Obama's first meeting with Chinese President Hu
Jintao early next month in London. They discussed collective efforts to boost
the sagging global economy, and issues of discord including human rights.
The meeting was preceded by editorial criticism and complaints by human
rights groups that Clinton was not assertive enough with Chinese officials on
human rights issues when she visited China last month.
But in an unusual
solo press appearance after her meeting with Foreign Minister Yang, Clinton said
they had discussed human rights issues including Tibet, and said that promotion
of human rights is an American core belief and an essential aspect of U.S.
discourse with every other country.
Under questioning, she said human
rights does not take a back seat but is a central part of the U.S.-China
dialogue. She said she and her Chinese counterpart discussed the possible
resumption of what has been an off-and-on formal dialogue between the two
countries on human rights, and that she wants to finds a platform that yields
not just talk on the issue but real progress.
"There is no doubt about
our commitment," she said. "We're exploring different ways of being effective in
delivering on that commitment, and whether it's with China or any other nation,
we're going to continue to look for opportunities to not just talk about human
rights but actually try to advance the agenda on human rights."
The Chinese foreign minister's Washington
schedule is laden with economic meetings. After the meeting with Clinton, Yang
went on to see Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to lay groundwork for the
G-20 summit of major economies in London early next month that is aimed at a
collective effort to reverse the global recession.
President Obama will
meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of that meeting and Clinton
said the United States and China have a joint responsibility to see that the
G-20 meeting produces tangible and concrete action to combat the
Clinton side-stepped a question about whether U.S. indebtedness
to China limited the Obama administration's leverage with Beijing, saying both
countries have different economic strengths and weaknesses but there is no doubt
about their capacity to recover.
"It's not going to be easy and it will
take some time, but I'm absolutely confident," she said. "I think the Chinese
are equally committed to stimulating growth, to being able to help push the
global economic agenda as well. Obviously we will have difficulties in dealing
with the economic challenges we face. For China, they're an export driven
country. They need consumer to buy those exports. For us, going into deficits to
the extent we must in order to put in place our recovery plan is something we
are going to have to deal with."
Clinton said she and Yang agreed to work
to insure that there will be no repeat of the incident earlier this week in
which the U.S. Navy said an American surveillance ship was harassed by Chinese
vessels in international waters of the South China sea.
She also said
they discussed ways to work together to address the humanitarian crisis posed by
Sudan's expulsion of international aid groups from Darfur, and reaffirmed their
commitment to the early resumption of the Chinese-sponsored six-party talks
aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program.