China no ‘Cold War ad­ver­sary’: US of­fi­cial

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Se­nior US of­fi­cials are us­ing more pos­i­tive tones to de­scribe US-China re­la­tions a lit­tle more than two months be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama leaves the Oval Of­fice.

As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Daniel Rus­sel on Thurs­day would not con­firm if there has been an in­struc­tion from the White House to the Pen­tagon and oth­ers last month not to de­scribe US-China re­la­tions as a “great power com­pe­ti­tion” be­cause that sug­gests the two coun­tries are on a col­li­sion course.

He said he had not seen the doc­u­ment. “How­ever, I do know that it is not the pol­icy of the United States and it is not the be­lief of Pres­i­dent Obama that we should treat China as a Cold War ad­ver­sary,” Rus­sel told a brief­ing at the For­eign Press Cen­ter af­ter a re­cent trip that took him to the Philip­pines, Thai­land and Cam­bo­dia.

He ad­mit­ted that the two coun­tries have pro­found dif­fer­ences in some im­por­tant ar­eas and there are dif­fer­ences in strate­gic ob­jec­tives and per­spec­tives on is­sues such as hu­man rights and tac­tics of how to achieve peace­ful de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula.

He em­pha­sized that Obama has been de­ter­mined to en­gage China in a “di­rect, open, can­did, hon­est di­a­logue” and “that solves prob­lems where we can solve prob­lems, that nar­row dif­fer­ences where we can’t solve them and that man­age dif­fer­ence where we can’t nar­row them.”

“And I think that sus­tained ef­fort has put a strong foun­da­tion un­der the re­la­tion­ship that can ab­sorb a great deal of stress and does. And that’s a good thing,” said Rus­sel, who has worked in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion since 2009, first as White House spe­cial as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil se­nior direc­tor for Asian af­fairs be­fore tak­ing his cur­rent job in 2013.

He de­scribed the meet­ing on Tues­day in New York be­tween Chi­nese State Coun­cilor Yang Jiechi and US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Su­san Rice and Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry as part of a rich set of high-level con­sul­ta­tions be­tween the two coun­tries and the im­por­tance the two coun­tries placed on ex­pand­ing ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion and ad­dress­ing ar­eas of dif­fer­ences.

The North Korea nu­clear is­sue fea­tured promi­nently in the talk, ac­cord­ing to Rus­sel.

The vet­eran US diplo­mat was bom­barded with ques­tions about the warm­ing re­la­tions be­tween China and some South­east Asian na­tions, in par­tic­u­lar the Philip­pines and Malaysia.

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte vis­ited Bei­jing last month to im­prove ties that were strained un­der his pre­de­ces­sor Benigno Aquino III. Duterte also has talked about dis­tanc­ing his coun­try from the US on for­eign pol­icy de­ci­sions and the US troop pres­ence.

In Bei­jing on Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping met with Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak and Razak in­vited Xi to visit his coun­try again.

Late last month, three PLA Navy ships made a five-day port call to Cam Ranh Bay in Viet­nam to strengthen mil­i­tary-tomil­i­tary ties be­tween the two neigh­bors.

“The very idea that third coun­try co­op­er­a­tion with China is some­how a bad thing to the United States is ridicu­lous,” Rus­sel said.

CHEN WEIHUA / CHINA DAILY

As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Daniel Rus­sel speaks to re­porters at For­eign Press Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day.

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