WASHINGTON - Incoming number-two US diplomat John Negroponte has said
Washington should adopt an engagement policy at all levels with China.
Negroponte, currently the top US
spy chief and set to become Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's deputy, also
told a Senate hearing on his confirmation that it would not be wise for
Washington to review its policy on Taiwan.
John Negroponte (L), nominee to be
Deputy Secretary of State talks with US Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Chairman
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before his hearing begins on
Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Negroponte has said Washington should
adopt an engagement policy at all levels with China. [AFP]
"I think we need to engage China on all levels and I think that ought to be
our approach to that country, not one of confrontation but engagement," said the
67-year-old veteran foreign service officer whose career began in Asia.
"China is a very important country. And it's going to be for the century
ahead of us. I think it's in our interest to engage China," he
Negroponte also said that he expected to resume a US-China
strategic dialogue launched by the previous deputy secretary of state, Robert
Zoellick, before his resignation in July last year.
Zoellick had challenged China to be "responsible stakeholder" in the global
Indicating that he has a firm grasp of China's history, Zoellick said he had
gone to Beijing as early as 1972 with former top US diplomat Henry Kissinger
shortly after then President Richard Nixon's landmark visit to that country.
"I was involved in the first outreach to China back in the early 1970s," he
When asked at the hearing about his opinion on Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's
push for a new constitution, Negroponte cited Washington's adherence to a
"one-China policy" and three US-China communiques issued after Nixon resumed
contacts with China in 1972.
"We believe that it would be unwise to do anything that might be at cross
purposes with those three," Negroponte said.
Pressed by Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, if the proposed new
Taiwanese constitution would violate the communiques, he said, "I would want to
study the implications but it certainly strikes me that that would be a distinct
In the three communiques signed between 1972 and 1982, the United States
recognized that there is only one China, including Taiwan, but did not
explicitly adopt that view as its own.
Negroponte also said that he expected to spend much time trying to secure
peace in Northeast Asia, which has been threatened by North Korea's nuclear
On ties with Japan, the top Asian ally of the United States, he said he
expected to devote "an important amount of time" to nurture that relationship.
He said, "Our relationship with Japan has always been a corner stone of our
policy towards East Asia.
"I don't think we should take the relationship for granted, I think it needs
to be nurtured and Japan remains one of our most important allies in the