Speaking on U.S.-China relations at Texas A. & M. University recently, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said that "no single relationship is likely to matter more to either [America or China] in the decades ahead, or to the future of international order."
In a rapidly changing political and economic landscape, the Asia-Pacific region continues to be a focal point for U.S. national interests. "Our long-standing alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines continue to anchor our role as a resident Pacific power," Deputy Secretary Burns said. "To the north, Russia -- also an Asia-Pacific nation -- is a key energy producer, and a critical partner in global nonproliferation efforts. To the south and west, India and the Indian Ocean region will be critical in shaping the future of Asia. The nations of the Western Hemisphere, by and large Pacific nations, are increasingly interacting with and benefiting from Asia’s growing reach."
Relations between the United States and China have grown from President Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, the first time a U.S. president had visited China, to the deep, wide-ranging and complex relationship of today. "A healthy U.S.-China relationship is central to our vision for the future of the Pacific region and the global economy," Deputy Secretary Burns said. "Trust and understanding between our nations will be essential to America’s security and prosperity and to China, as it seeks to play a greater role in world affairs.
"We must seek good relations with China at every turn, but not at the cost of silence on human rights," Deputy Secretary Burns continued. "That commitment remains a central part of U.S. engagement with China. We will continue to urge China to protect freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and other basic rights guaranteed in China’s own constitution, laws, and international commitments. The standard we ask China to apply is not an American standard but a universal one -- one the Chinese people have embraced as eloquently as anyone.
"Given our shared commitment to a cooperative and comprehensive relationship . . . we can build sustainable mechanisms to manage risk and grow trust," Deputy Secretary Burns said. "If we do, we can advance peace, security and prosperity, not just for our own people, not just for a region in the grip of monumental change, but for the entire world in the promising new century which lies ahead."