SYDNEY, Australia – U.S. Vice President Dick Cheneysaid Friday that China's recent anti-satellite weapons test and its rapid military buildup were "not consistent" with its stated aim of a peaceful rise as a global power.
In a speech during a visit to Australia, Cheney praised China for playing an "especially important" role in six-nation negotiations that last week resulted in a deal with North Korea to eventually end its nuclear weapons programs.
"Other actions by the Chinese government send a different message," Cheney told the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue in Sydney.
"Last month's anti-satellite test, China's continued fast-paced military buildup are less constructive and are not consistent with China's stated goal of a peaceful rise," he said.
Cheney also indicated Washington remained suspicious of North Korea's commitment to the deal, under which the communist country is to seal its main nuclear reactor and allow international inspections in exchange for fuel oil.
"We go into this deal with our eyes open," Cheney said. "In light of North Korea's missile test last July, its nuclear test in October and its record of proliferation and human rights abuses, the regime in Pyongyang has much to prove."
He said, however, the deal "represents a first hopeful step" that would "bring us closer to a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons."
Beijing said its Jan. 11 firing of a missile at a defunct weather satellite was for scientific purposes, but the test was widely criticized as a provocative demonstration of China's growing military clout and unnerved neighbors Japan and South Korea.
Washington has said the Chinese test undermined efforts to keep weapons out of space.