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Clinton To China: Keep Buying Our Debt

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wants China to continue investing in the United States because the two countries' financial futures are closely tied together.

"I certainly do think that the Chinese government and central bank are making a smart decision by continuing to invest in Treasury bonds," she said during an interview Sunday with the popular talk show "One on One." "It's a safe investment. The United States has a well-deserved financial reputation."

To boost the economy, the U.S has to incur more debt, she said, shortly before departing for Washington. "It would not be in China's interest if we were unable to get our economy moving," Clinton said. "So by continuing to support American Treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. We are truly going to rise or fall together. We are in the same boat and, thankfully, we are rowing in the same direction.

"Our economies are so intertwined, the Chinese know that to start exporting again to their biggest market, namely the United States, the United States has to take some very drastic measures with this stimulus package, which means we have to incur more debt."

With the export-heavy Chinese economy reeling from the U.S. downturn, Clinton has sought in meetings with President Hu Jintao, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Premier Wen Jiabao to reassure Beijing that its massive holdings of U.S. Treasury notes and other government debt would remain a solid investment.

Yang responded that China wants to see its foreign exchange reserves - the world's largest at $1.95 trillion - invested safely and to continue working with the United States.

During her trip to Beijing, Clinton's emphasis on the global economy, climate change and security were meant to highlight the growing importance of U.S.-China relations, which have often frayed over disagreements on human rights. Authorities in Beijing face a year of sensitive anniversaries - 20 years since the crushing of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement and 50 years since the failed Tibetan uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

As she wrapped up her trip to China, Clinton met with women's rights advocates and attended church, a day after talks with Chinese officials.

Sunday's session at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing gathered female lawyers, academics, environmental activists, health care workers and entrepreneurs to highlight the growing leadership role of Chinese women.

On Saturday, Clinton and Yang said regular dialogue on economic issues would now include terrorism and other security issues. Details will be finalized by President Barack Obama and the Chinese president at an economic summit in London in April. "We have every reason to believe that the United States and China will recover and together we will help lead the world recovery," she told reporters at a news conference with Yang.

Ahead of her talks, Clinton said China's controversial human rights record would be largely off the table, a blunt admission that startled rights groups.

Activists complained Saturday that Chinese police were monitoring dissidents and had confined some to their homes during Clinton's two-day visit. Several of those targeted had signed "Charter 08," an unusually open call for civil rights and political reforms.

Along with cooperating on the financial crisis, the U.S. wants China to step up efforts to address threats from nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, and the tenuous security situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With China surpassing the U.S. last year as the world's leading producer of greenhouse gases, Clinton said she and Chinese officials had agreed to develop clean-energy technology that would use renewable sources and safely store the emissions from burning coal.

Visiting a new gas-fueled power plant in Beijing, Clinton urged China not to repeat the "same mistakes" that Western countries made when they developed.

Beijing was the last and perhaps most important stop on Clinton's itinerary, capping a week on the road in Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China intended to demonstrate the Obama administration's commitment to Asia. In Japan and South Korea, concerns over North Korea's nuclear program dominated the agenda, particularly amid a rise in belligerent rhetoric from Pyongyang directed at Seoul. She reaffirmed U.S. alliances with both countries and signed an agreement in Tokyo on the realignment of American forces.

Clinton met some 350 servicemen and women during a refueling stop at the Yokota Air Force Base outside Tokyo on her return trip to Washington.
By Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee

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