Carter urges Obama to work closely with China

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BEIJING, Jan 12: Former US president Jimmy Carter, whose administration formalised diplomatic ties with China 30 years ago, on Monday urged President-elect Barack Obama to find ways to work more closely with Beijing on global issues.Carter also called the US-China diplomatic relationship the most important in the world today and predicted it would continue to greatly benefit both sides for decades to come.In an interview with The Associated Press, Carter said both sides had to overcome periodic tensions and find ways to cooperate on issues, including climate change, terrorism as well as the world financial crisis.“The main thing is for the new administration to work harmoniously with China ... and overcome those differences which are inevitable and seek out the best ways to cooperate as partners,” Carter said on the sidelines of a conference commemorating the establishment of ties on Jan. 1, 1979.Human rights issues have also been a consistent source of friction between the two sides, with the US pushing China to improve its poor record, including its religious repression and silencing of political dissidents. But, Carter, a recipient of the UN Human Rights Award and a fierce critic of United States’ own human rights violations under the Bush administration, did not make any public comments on the issue on this trip.Instead Carter praised China for its remarkable transformation over the past three decades.“Not even Deng Xiaoping could have anticipated the glorious changes that have taken place in this wonderful country,” he said during his opening speech at the academic conference. Deng was the force behind China’s economic reforms that started in late 1978.Carter told the AP he expected China to continue to liberalize further and become a more free society. “There’s been tremendous changes made in China, and I would expect that same trend toward more openness, more freedom, more participation in government by the people will continue.”Carter later met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in a private meeting, according to the official Xinhua news agency, and passed on greetings from Obama, whom he met last week during a luncheon with President George W. Bush and all the former American presidents.Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former president Richard Nixon were the original architects of the rapprochement with China.Today, “there is no more important diplomatic relationship in the world” than the one between China and America, Carter said.—AFP


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