U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently inaugurated the State Department’s Richard Holbrooke lecture series in honor of the departed diplomat, with a speech on the future of U.S. – China relations.
Secretary Clinton said that the United States is pursuing a strategy for the U.S.-China relationship with three elements that reinforce one another. The first is regional engagement. "We are firmly embedding our relationship with China within a broader regional framework because it is inseparable from the Asia-Pacific’s web of security alliances, economic networks, and social connections," she said. "America has renewed and strengthened our bonds with our allies – Japan, [the Republic of] Korea, Thailand, Australia, and the Philippines – and we have deepened our partnerships with India, and Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand."
The second element is building on bilateral trust. "We need to form habits of cooperation and respect that help us work together more effectively. The most notable example ... is the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which brings together hundreds of experts from dozens of agencies ... across both of our governments," Secretary Clinton said. "[B]oth sides would [also] benefit from sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency. We need more high-level visits, more joint exercises, [and] more exchanges from our professional military organizations."
"[B]uilding trust is not ... just for our governments," Secretary Clinton continued. "Our peoples must continue to forge new and deeper bonds ... [i]n classrooms and laboratories, on sports fields and trading floors ... [to] make the everyday connections that build lasting trust and understanding. That is why we have launched a new bilateral dialogue on people-to-people exchanges and new initiatives such as the 100,000 Strong program that is sending ... more American students to China."
The third element important to strong U.S.-China ties is expanding the areas of shared challenges -- global recession, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, piracy on the high seas, and more. Secretary Clinton said, "[W]e continue to encourage China ... to work ... with us to solve these problems."
"Today, we have a positive relationship with China and the chance for a very positive future," Secretary Clinton concluded. "We look forward to a time when our future generations can look back and say of us: They made the right choices. ... [T]hey did leave us a better world. That is our vision and that is our commitment for this most important relationship."