Face facts, Clinton tells China
MATTHEW LEE, SHANGHAI
Source – The Age, published May 23, 2010
FACING an uphill diplomatic struggle to win China’s support for penalising its ally North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday highlighted the benefits of US-Chinese co-operation at the World Expo in Shanghai.
Her visit to the expo on the banks of the Huangpu River marked a respite from an intense three-nation journey to Asia that took her to Japan on Friday and will see her move to Beijing today and then to the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Wednesday.
At each stop on the way, the crisis over the ship incident is expected to dominate her agenda but nowhere more than in Beijing where she and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are leading a delegation of nearly 200 US officials for talks intended to improve economic and strategic relations.
That second round of the so-called Strategic and Economic Dialogue was supposed to be the main thrust of her Asia trip, but with last week’s report blaming Pyongyang for sinking the South Korean vessel, her main task in Beijing will now be to try to persuade China to support UN Security Council action against North Korea. China, North Korea’s primary ally and financial supporter has thus far remained neutral on the conclusions of the report that found Pyongyang responsible for firing a torpedo that sank the South Korean ship Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors.
The UN Command’s Military Armistice Commission, which oversees the 1953 Korean War truce agreement, yesterday launched an independent investigation of the Cheonan’s sinking.
Representatives from Britain, Canada, Australia, the US, France, New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey and Denmark will review the findings of the multinational investigation and determine the scope of North Korea’s armistice violation, a UN spokesman said.
US officials travelling with Mrs Clinton said she would try to persuade the Chinese to ”acknowledge the reality” of what happened and support measures that would help persuade the North to change its behaviour.
A senior US official told reporters Mrs Clinton would ”try to make a powerful case about why this is an extraordinarily serious matter and why we want the strong co-operation from China”.
”We’d like to see them acknowledge the reality of what happened and then join with South Korea, Japan and us in helping to fashion a response that helps to change North Korean behaviour,” the official said.
Speaking in Japan on Friday, Mrs Clinton made it clear the Obama administration wanted the UN to take action against North Korea.
”Let me be clear. This will not be, and cannot be, business as usual,” Mrs Clinton said. ”There must be an international – not just a regional, but an international – response.”
Yesterday, however, Mrs Clinton adopted a low-key approach, but made clear she hoped the World Expo, in particular the popular US pavilion, would create greater understanding and goodwill ties between Washington and Beijing as well as the Chinese and American people.
”I will carry with me many positive feelings when I leave Shanghai tomorrow to go to Beijing,” she told the local Communist Party chief after visiting the Chinese pavilion. ”We think government-to-government relations are very important but we believe people-to-people relations between the Chinese and American people are the most important foundation for a very positive future between our two countries.”
AP, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese overseas, Influence, International Relations, North Korea, Politics, Shanghai World Expo, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategic Economic Dialogue, The Age, U.S.