Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick bluntly warned China last night that it must begin to take concrete steps to address what he called a "a cauldron of anxiety" in the United States and other parts of the world about Chinese intentions.
Zoellick, delivering the administration's most comprehensive statement on its dealings with China, said the United States has worked hard to bring China into the international system over the past three decades. Now, he said, the United States will focus on ensuring that China becomes a responsible player on the world stage.
"Uncertainties about how China will use its power will lead the United States -- and others as well -- to hedge relations with China," Zoellick told the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations in New York. "Many countries hope China will pursue a 'peaceful rise,' but none will bet their future on it."
The State Department released the prepared text of Zoellick's address in Washington. Zoellick heads the U.S. delegation to a recently started strategic dialogue with China, and much of his speech reflects the message he delivered during three days of talks in Beijing last month.
The Bush administration entered office five years ago deeply suspicious of China, but those concerns were largely put aside after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. China, in the meantime, has emerged an economic powerhouse, scouring the world for energy and raw materials to feed its growth. Zoellick's statement appears to avoid a confrontational tone -- he asserted that "China does not want a conflict with the United States" -- but he lays down markers by which Chinese behavior will be evaluated.
"We have many common interests with China," Zoellick said. "But relationships built only on a coincidence of interests have shallow roots. Relationships built on shared interests and shared values are deep and lasting."
Among other points, Zoellick said:
* China should openly explain its defense spending, intentions, doctrine and military exercises to ease concerns about its rapid military buildup.
* China shows "increasing signs of mercantilism," seeking to direct markets rather than open them, and such actions must cease before its policies undercut U.S. domestic support for open markets. Zoellick said China's efforts to "lock up" energy supplies are "not a sensible path to achieving energy security."
* China should end its tolerance of "rampant theft of intellectual property and counterfeiting" if it is to be considered a "responsible major global player." China must also do "much more" to allow its currency to adjust to market rates.
* China should adjust its foreign policy to focus less on national interest and more on sustaining peaceful prosperity, including ensuring North Korea's compliance with an agreement to end its nuclear programs, supporting efforts to end Iran's nuclear programs, and pledging more money to Afghanistan and Iraq. China's dealings with Sudan, Burma and other "troublesome states indicates at best a blindness to consequences and at worst something more ominous," Zoellick said.
* China should not attempt to "maneuver toward a predominance of power" in Asia by building separate alliances in Southeast Asia and other areas.
Zoellick also addressed democracy in China, saying it is "risky and mistaken" to believe the Communist Party's monopoly can be secured "through emphasizing economic growth and heightened nationalism." He said closed politics are "simply not sustainable" and that pressure is building for political reform.
"China has one umbrella labor union, but waves of strikes," Zoellick noted. "A party that came to power as a movement of peasants now confronts violent rural protests, especially against corruption. A government with massive police powers cannot control spreading crime."
Zoellick said China should consider elections at the county and provincial level, reform its judiciary and "stop harassing journalists who point out problems."