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U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg recently described the future of U.S.-China relations in terms of "strategic reassurance." Just as the U.S. and its allies must make clear that they "are prepared to welcome China's 'arrival' ... as a prosperous and successful power," said Mr. Steinberg, "China must reassure the rest of the world that its development and growing global role will not come at the expense of security and well-being of others."
The U.S. and China have cooperated closely on issues such as formulating a common response to North Korea's recent missile and nuclear tests. It will be important to demonstrate that same cooperation in dealing with Iran's nuclear programs through the P5+1, said Deputy Secretary Steinberg. China and the U.S. have also closely coordinated their economic stimulus plans in an effort to get the global economy growing again.
Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg said that the bilateral relationship is strong and that the U.S. and China continue to cooperate in confronting a host of global challenges, from regional stability issues to climate change. At the same, said Mr. Steinberg, "It is important that we neither overlook nor downplay the continued areas of mistrust and disagreement." China's military spending has increased, causing some to question China's intentions, given the lack of transparency in its military programs.
With its rapid growth and large population, China's demand for natural resources is surging, but securing these resources through exclusive deals, as well as engagement with countries like Iran, Sudan, Burma, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, undermines the perception of China as a country interested in regional stability and humanitarian goals.
The United States and China share an interest in stable and sustainable energy supplies, and the United States has said it wants to enlist China to help in developing well-functioning markets and bolstering common energy security in the years ahead. China must, in turn, demonstrate that it will be a constructive participant in its efforts rather than seeking to secure its own energy needs at the expense of others.
The United States continues to stand up for human rights in China because, as President Barack Obama said, it is who Americans are as a people. But the U.S. also believes that a China that respects the rule of law and universal norms provides reassurance to others that it will bring the same approach to its international behavior, as well as providing greater stability and sustainable growth for its own people.
"We are ready to accept a growing role for China on the international stage," said Deputy Secretary Steinberg. "China too, needs to demonstrate the same commitment to doing its part -- reassuring the United States, its neighbors in Asia, and the rest of the world that we have nothing to fear from a more influential China. . . .With such strategic reassurance and a shared commitment to building an international system based on mutual trust," said Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg, "I have no doubt that we can succeed in our common interests."