Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Negroponte says one highlight of the Bush administration's eight years in office has been Washington's efforts to forge closer American relations with China. He spoke to reporters Thursday, during a visit to China to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of Sino-American ties.
Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Negroponte says he believes historians will have positive things to say when looking back at the Bush administration's efforts to strengthen Sino-American relations.
He points to significantly increased trade between the two countries, as well as cooperation on regional and global security issues.
"One issue I'd particularly like to highlight is the fact that our two presidents established a very close, personal relationship. They met quite frequently," he said. "Just to set an example, they met twice in the month of November, alone. They've had extensive telephone contact and communication."
Negroponte calls the changes in the U.S.-China relationship "dramatic," and says the broad range of exchanges are "on a scale and depth" that could not have been imagined when the two countries first re-established diplomatic ties, in 1979.
He says the two main challenges for the U.S.-China relationship, in the near future, revolve around regional security issues and the global economic crisis.
When asked about whether the United States continues to place importance on issues like human rights, Negroponte assured journalists the answer was, and will likely continue to be, yes.
"I'd be reluctant to predict how the next administration will handle specific issues in the relationship," added Negroponte. "Although, since human rights, concern for human rights, is a fundamental tenet of American foreign policy, I expect to see human rights concerns to continue in the next administration."
Another issue of interest to people in both countries is whether the United States and China will continue to maintain the current framework of bilateral discussions.
The Strategic Economic Dialogue and Senior Dialogue, both established during the Bush administration, provide for regular, high-level bilateral meetings.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he hopes such meetings continue.
Qin says such meetings should be maintained, because China and the United States, in his words, need dialogue and cooperation.
Qin says there was a popular saying, before the two sides established relations, that American visitors to China were scarcer than endangered pandas.
Now, though, he says the two countries exchange about two million visitors a year.