The Obama administration is promising stronger diplomatic engagement with China but also warns that the United States is ready to handle any Chinese military threat.
In her first comments to reporters at the State Department, new Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged a broader US approach toward a country crucial to US interests in Asia and around the world. Her comments Tuesday appeared to be a criticism of the Bush administration's China policy.
"We need a comprehensive dialogue with China," Clinton said. "The strategic dialogue that was begun in the Bush administration turned into an economic dialogue," she said - a reference to former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's Strategic Economic Dialogue, high-level discussions that have been held twice a year starting in late 2006. "That's a very important aspect of our relationship with China, but it's not the only aspect of our relationship."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, meanwhile, assured lawmakers Tuesday that US forces "have the capability in place to be able to deal with any foreseeable Chinese threat for some time to come."