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Clinton: China Must Play 'Constructive Role'

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers an address to the US-China Conference at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, March 7, 2012.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers an address to the US-China Conference at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, March 7, 2012.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging China to use its growing global influence to play a "constructive role" in world affairs.

Clinton spoke in Washington Wednesday at an event marking the 40th anniversary of former President Richard Nixon's groundbreaking 1972 trip to China.

She says Beijing can no longer be what she calls a "selective stakeholder" on certain issues if it wants the respect of the international community.

"In some forums on some issues, China wants to be treated as a great power, in others as a developing nation," Clinton said.  "That is perfectly understandable, because China has attributes of both. Nonetheless, the world is looking for China to play a role that is commensurate with its new standing."

Clinton specifically mentioned American disputes with China about how to handle the Syrian crisis, its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and a number of long-running trade-related concerns.

Although Clinton says the United States is working to foster China's rise as an "active contributor to global security," she says Washington does not want "unhealthy competition, rivalry or conflict" with Beijing.

"So to those who ask, 'Is the United States trying to contain China,' our answer is a clear 'No.' In fact, the United States helped pave the way for China to be where it is today in its own development," Clinton added.

U.S. officials have repeatedly called for China to use its power to help end Syria's brutal crackdown against opposition supporters. China, along with Russia, has twice vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions that would have put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to stop the violence.

The world's two biggest economies have also disagreed about a number of economic issues, including the value of the Chinese currency. Washington says China is intentionally undervaluing the yuan to give Chinese exporters an unfair advantage.

Speaking via live video to the conference, Wednesday, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi insisted that Beijing is committed to advancing human rights and promoting peaceful development. He says he hopes the U.S. will view China's growth "in the right and objective way" and take steps to increase mutual trust.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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