The relationship between the United States and China is getting better after it moved out of the shadow of the EP-3 incident, and the two sides can cooperate on some security issues, said US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
"I'm happy to report that I think US-China relations are improving tremendously," Rice told a group of dignitaries in a luncheon speech delivered at the National Press Club here in Washington D.C.
Rice said that one of the two guidelines US President George W. Bush set out at the very beginning of the EP-3 incident in April is to "preserve the framework for a productive relationship with China."
During the incident, a Chinese fighter jet fell into the sea and the pilot lost his life after it was bumped by a US EP-3 spy plane near China's Hainan Island. The US airplane, also damaged in the collision, landed on Chinese territory without advance notice. The incident caused high tension for several weeks in relations between the two countries.
"We really did believe fairly early on that we had a road map to getting out of this situation and that, after we were out of it, we would have a chance for a productive relationship (with China), " Rice said.
The US crewmen returned home 11 days after the incident, and the US plane was also ferried back recently. "The president and President Jiang Zemin spoke as soon as the plane was back out of China," Rice noted.
While describing the US-China relations as "complicated" with the two sides having differences on some security issues, Rice said, "China is a rising power ... We clearly have some security interests where we've been able to cooperate, for instance, on the Korean Peninsula."
Rice conceded that the two countries also have divergent views on human rights, but such an issue should be "put in a larger context." "China is a country that's going through a tremendous transformation internally," she added.
"Anybody who has been there in the last several years, who was there much earlier, cannot say that this is the same China. It is a China in which Chinese citizens are taking more responsibility for their own lives." Rice said.
Meanwhile, Samuel R. Berger, former US national security advisor under the Clinton administration, put out an article in the International Herald Tribune on Friday, stressing that "there is no time for America to alienate Beijing."
Berger, who now heads Stonebridge International, a consulting firm, said that it is "unsustainable" for the United States to carry out a China policy that tries to mingle economic engagement and political hostility.
"An ideologically driven shift toward confrontation (with China) would be a serious mistake," he emphasized.
"China does not have the capability to be a destabilizing force in Asia. Nor is there much evidence that it intends to do so," Burger said.
He said that if China can succeed in the next few years "with perhaps the boldest market-oriented economic experiment in modern times" and peacefully manage the social consequences with the law, "it will be transformed, as will Asia and the world," he said.
Such a change would conform to America's long-term national interests, and therefore, "it makes no sense to throw a monkey wrench into the process," Berger said in the article.
(People’s Daily 07/15/2001)