BEIJING – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday urged China to play a responsible role in the world by respecting human rights and helping to deal with challenges posed by Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs and violence in Syria and Sudan and South Sudan.
As the two countries scrambled to resolve a diplomatic crisis over a blind Chinese legal activist who sought shelter at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Clinton did not mention Chen Guangcheng by name, but said she raise individual human rights cases with China.
"Of course, the United States continues to raise human rights because we believe that they are essential for every country to uphold," she said in a speech at the end of a two-day annual strategic dialogue with China.
"We raise specific matters of individuals and situations whenever necessary because we cannot ignore our areas of difference in the comprehensive relationship that we are building," Clinton said.
China's top diplomat Dai Bingguo called the talks a "tremendous" success with a candid exchange of views. He said human rights were discussed but there are differences.
"On the issue of human rights, no country can claim to be perfect. China will continue to stay on the right course it has chosen," Dai said.
He repeated China's stance that human rights should not be used as an "excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of countries."
Clinton specifically implored China to support international efforts to persuade North Korea to end provocative actions, get Iran to prove its nuclear program is peaceful and end fighting in Syria and two Sudans.
"Each of these crises represents a shared challenge to global security, and each provides an opportunity for us to work together more closely to advance our common interests in peace and stability," Clinton said.
She later lauded continued cooperation with Beijing on world concerns, despite differences on human rights and other issues.
"It is a testament to how far we've come in building a strong and resilient relationship and being able to have very candid open discussions about issues where there is disagreement without it endangering the entire range of significant matter that we are working on together," Clinton told reporters at a briefing after the talks.
China and Russia have balked at adopting tough new U.N. Security Council sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, which is continuing a brutal crackdown on its opponents. But Beijing has gone along with a U.N.-backed truce plan, also accepted by Assad, that calls for a cease-fire, international monitors and a political transition.
"It's critical that the international community — including China and the United States — hold the regime accountable for its commitments," Clinton said in an earlier statement at the talks. "If it continues to refuse, all of us should recognize our responsibility to explore additional steps and resolutions. The credibility of the council is at stake."
On North Korea, she said China, as Pyongyang's main ally, should keep pushing it to return to multination nuclear disarmament talks and step back from provocative acts like its recent rocket launch, which the U.S. and its allies say was a test of long-range missile capability in violation of U.N. resolutions.
"We recognize the role China has played so far, and we hope we can continue to work together to make it clear to North Korea that strength and security will come from prioritizing people, not provocation," she said in her statement.
Ahead of talks with Iran later this month aimed at getting the Islamic republic to come clean about its nuclear intentions, Clinton said China should make clear that Tehran cannot stall its way out of isolation.
"If we ease off the pressure or waver in our resolve, Iran will have less incentive to negotiate in good faith or to take the necessary steps to address the international community's concerns about its nuclear program," she said.
Clinton welcomed China's interest in resolving a conflict between Sudan and the world's newest nation, South Sudan, which have been engaged in hostilities over border and oil disputes in recent months, sparking fears of a full-on war.
"Together we need to keep sending a strong message to the government of Sudan that it must immediately and unconditionally halt all cross-border attacks, particularly its provocative aerial bombardments," she said.