Obama's choice for top diplomat stresses links

Obama's choice for top diplomat stresses links

Kerry envisions greater Sino-US cooperation as global partners

US Senator John Kerry, who is expected to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, said on Thursday that he wants to broaden his country's relationship with China.

Kerry said he envisions China playing a far more significant role as a partner in any number of efforts globally.

"China may be viewed as competitors in the marketplace, but we shouldn't be adversaries in some way that diminishes our ability to cooperate on a number of things," he said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he has headed since 2009.

Kerry said China is cooperating with the US on Iran and there might be more cooperation on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and other parts in East Asia.

"There could be more we could do in other parts of the Far East. And hopefully, we can build those relationships that will further that transformation. We make progress. It's incremental. It's a tough slog," said the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.

The 69-year-old - surrounded by his wife, Teresa Heinz, and other family members - said the two countries can find a better sense of mutual interests in the common goals they work with.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press conference on Friday that China is willing to make concerted efforts with the US to continue enhancing the Sino-US cooperative partnership and build a new type of big-power relationship.

Kerry said he supports and will develop the US repivoting in Asia-Pacific, which started less than two years ago, describing it as "critical" for the US "to strengthen our relationship with China." But he is not convinced that a military ramp-up is critical, adding that he will look at the issue more carefully after being confirmed.

Kerry told lawmakers that the US has more bases in the region than any other nation, including China.

He also acknowledged the concern in China after the US increased the number of Marines in Australia. "The Chinese ask what the United States is doing - 'They try to encircle us, what's going on?' - and so every action has its reaction," said the 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran who became an anti-war activist.

"We have to think thoughtfully about not creating a threat when there isn't one and understand where we can find a basis for cooperation," Kerry said.

"I am not talking about retreating, I am simply trying to think about how we do this, not creating the reaction you don't like to create," he said.

The US rebalancing, or pivot in Asia, has shifted more from the military front to the economic and trade front in the last year. The senator from Massachusetts voiced his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he said would establish greater leverage on the notion of broadly accepted rules.

Hong, the spokesman, noted that the Asia-Pacific region is where China and US have the most converging interests and frequent interaction.

"Both China and the US should play a constructive role in protecting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific area," Hong said.

Hong said the two countries can achieve benign interaction in this area through their existing mechanisms including the strategic and economic dialogue and the Asia-Pacific consultation.

Kerry pointed out that the US still faces significant challenges in China on intellectual property rights, market access and currency.

"China is, you know, the other sort of significant economy in the world and obviously has a voracious appetite for resources around the world, and we need to establish rules of the road that work for everybody," he said.

Kenneth Lieberthal, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, praised Kerry as a good candidate for secretary of state.

"He is someone who believes strongly to know well the people you are dealing with, to understand their perspectives and their concerns," he said.

"I would think that bodes well for his being an effective secretary of state as well as in dealing with China, among other issues," Lieberthal said.