US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday he would visit China next week. He said that he is confident of improving strained relations, insisting Washington did not view the Communist giant as a potential enemy.
“I head to China confident that we can build a more stable, more constructive relationship with the Chinese,” Powell told reporters ahead of his first trip to Asia next week, which also includes stops in Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Australia.
Powell, a retired army general who formerly chaired the Pentagon’s joint chiefs of staff, said he was unconcerned about reports China is building up its armed forces
“It is a nation that need not be seen as an enemy. I would expect the Chinese military to modernize and transform itself and to use some of its newfound wealth to do that. This is not shocking or surprising to me,” Powell said.
“At the same time, we should watch what is happening, and of course, there is always the potential danger of misjudgments with respect to Taiwan, and we will always keep that in mind as well,” he said.
Powell’s visit follows a period of tension on spy plane incident between China and the United States since Republican President George W. Bush took office in January saying the relationship would be one of “strategic competition” and pressing ahead with a missile defense system that threaten international arms control pacts.
The atmosphere has improved since the plane was returned to the United States this month, helped by a neutral stand by the Bush administration to China’s bid to stage the 2008 Olympic Games, which Beijing won.
Powell’s trip -- he is to arrive in Beijing on July 28 -- is partly to prepare for a visit by Bush to China in October.
Powell, while making clear he would raise concerns over human rights, said the foundation of the relationship was “a tremendous transformation that has been brought about by the opening up of China and economic reform that has taken place.”
“I will tell the Chinese leaders that we will work with them as they continue on that path of reform, as they join world institutions and adopt world standards in trade and economics,” he said.
“I also will say that with proliferation (of weapons) and human rights and religious freedom issues, we will be candid in our conversations as befits two nations who are on a path to even better, friendlier relations than exists now,” he added.
(China Daily 07/21/2001)