Former Secretary Albright counsels fact not myth in relations

Updated: 2013-10-29 09:51

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stressed a continuing US-China bilateral relationship that requires commitment from both nations, in addition to recognition of each country's challenges.

Albright's speech was the centerpiece of China Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections, hosted last night by the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR). Her special address was delivered via live webcast to audiences in 66 cities across the US.

"As we look to the future, the key question is whether the United States and China can work together to solve the world's important challenges," said Albright, "despite different economic systems and points of views."

The former secretary said that the US and China can work together, "so long as we recognize our disagreements and core differences with maturity, confront our challenges directly, and have leaders on both sides that are committed to this relationship".

In her speech, Albright said that as in any other relationship, there have been and will continue to be "stress and challenges". She said that the economic imbalances between the countries and "tightening on the freedoms" of journalists and public advocates will impact the health of the two countries' relationship.

But, Albright said, "which ever way our leaders choose to respond to these concerns, their policy should be based not on emotions but reason, not on myth, but fact".

Albright stressed how important it is that the two countries overlook their differences to work together because China will need the US' help in order to grow: "I suspect that [Chinese leaders] realize that for the Chinese dream to materialize, they have no choice but to work closely with the United States," she said, "for our two societies are increasingly bound together."

Stephen Orlins, NCUSCR president and moderator of the discussion, asked Albright how Beijing can assume a role in global leadership without usurping America's role and creating any tension between the two countries.

Albright, appointed Secretary of State in 1997 and the first female to ever hold the position, said that she views the United States as the "indispensable nation," but there is "nothing in the word indispensable that says alone. I believe the kinds of issues that are out there that have to be dealt with require partnership".

Albright noted that China is now doing its part in global peacekeeping as well, something that the country abstained from in the past by not participating in international discussions, she said.

On the issue of China-US economic ties, Albright said it is important to consider "Who is dependent upon whom?" There is no question, she said, "that we are in a symbiotic relationship.

"The Chinese do hold a portion of our debt, they need us for their markets," she said. "So it is very much not a subject that's apart from diplomacy, and that the talks we have with the Chinese are on a strategic level, on an economic level, and a number of aspects that all go together in this multi-faceted relationship."

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