Clinton pledges American leadership in Asia

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that the US will continue to forge a leadership role in Asia, as she began a major trip to the region.

The US will use its tools of diplomacy, defence and development to maintain regional stability and promote security, economic growth and trade, Clinton said in a speech at the East-West Center in Honolulu, the first leg of her trip.

Following the speech, Clinton was due to fly to Vietnam to attend the East Asia Summit before a brief stop in China. She then heads to Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia during the nearly two-week trip — the longest of her tenure.

The flight to China’s Hainan Island was a late edition to her itinerary, reflecting the sensitive nature and simmering tensions in US-Chinese relations. Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit Washington early next year.

During the speech, Clinton sought to downplay the differences between the two countries, saying the US is working closely with China to create a relationship of mutual interests, but reiterated the US position that Beijing must be more open to US exports and business, and to working towards combating climate change.

“In the 21st century it is not in anyone’s interest for the US and China to see each other as adversaries,” Clinton said.

“We are committed to getting it right,” she said.

The US has been frustrated by China’s alleged artificially low valuing of the yuan, which Washington believes places American exports at a disadvantage and hurts jobs.

Clinton’s visit comes ahead of President Barack Obama’s plans to travel to the region. Obama is expected to arrive in India Nov 6 with stops also planned in Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. Obama will be in South Korea to attend the G20 summit.

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