TOKYO – Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that China will never become a full-fledged member of the international community until it moves toward creating a democratic system.
Powell, who stopped here on the first leg of a five-nation Asia-Pacific swing, also said the United States is looking for a basic change in China's human rights attitudes.
He said it is not enough for China to resolve occasional rights cases that have attracted international attention.
Increased protection for human rights would improve Chinese society as well as the country's international standing, Powell said.
The international community is not just an economic entity, he said. "It is a community of human rights, community of individual rights. It is a community of increasing democratization if you want to be a full-fledged member," he added.
The Communist Party has had absolute power in China for more than 50 years, thwarting efforts to form alternate parties.
Powell's remarks reflect the U.S. view that there has been a deterioration in the overall human rights situation in the recent past. Of particular concern are the crackdown on the Falun Gong meditation sect, described by Chinese authorities as a destructive cult. China also has come under criticism for perceived repression in Tibet.
Powell expressed hope that China will resolve quickly the case of Gao Zhan, a Chinese national who is a professor at American University in Washington. She was arrested in February on charges of spying for Taiwan. Her trial is expected to begin Tuesday.
Powell, speaking to reporters aboard his plane, also said he has concerns about China's record of compliance with arms control agreements reached with the United States.
Powell's visit to Japan will include a courtesy call Tuesday on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and a luncheon with the new U.S. ambassador, Howard Baker.
Afterward, he will visit Vietnam for three days of talks with more than 20 leaders from the Asia-Pacific region. Powell then has stops in South Korea, China and Australia.
Powell expressed frustration with the periodic examples of misbehavior by American troops on the Japanese island of Okinawa, including rape cases that have made headlines around the world. He said these incidents occur despite significant efforts to instruct the troops on how to behave.
"I don't think it is possible to remove our presence from Okinawa," Powell said, adding U.S. deployment there is critical for national security.