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Rice Urges China to Talk to Taiwan

Condoleezza Rice, left, meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
In Beijing as part of a four-nation Asia tour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged China to talk to rival Taiwan and the Dalai Lama, while rejecting calls to pull U.S. troops out of Central Asia.

Secretary Rice was in Beijing to discuss North Korean nuclear disarmament with Chinese leaders, but also covered other issues, including regional security, human rights, and trade.

During a press conference following the meetings, Ms. Rice rejected a call by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security grouping led by China and Russia, for the United States to set a deadline for leaving Central Asian states, including Afghanistan.

"It is our understanding that the people of Afghanistan want and need the help of U.S. armed forces," she said.

Secretary Rice also stressed that although the Washington is concerned about Beijing's increasing military build-up, the United States does not view China as a threat.

"We just take note of the fact that there is a significant military build-up going on, that we have concerns about the military balance, and of course, that the United States continues to modernize its own forces so that we can continue to be a force for stability and peace in this region," she said.

She also urged China to talk directly to the elected government in Taiwan, following recent visits to the mainland by Taiwanese opposition leaders.

Beijing has said it will not meet with Taiwan's ruling party until it recognizes the self-ruled island as part of "one China." China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has threatened to reunite it with the mainland by force if necessary.

Secretary Rice also asked Chinese leaders to reach out to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, saying he poses no threat to China.

Among the economic issues discussed were China's fixed currency exchange rate and lack of protection for intellectual property rights.

Secretary Rice has left China for Thailand and plans to visit Japan and South Korea.