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 China, like other countries, should "show that it is assuming the full responsibilities of a great nation."
"That means sharing the burden of solving common problems abroad and protecting the fundamental freedoms of all citizens at home," she said in remarks prepared for the final session of an annual strategic dialogue with China. "All governments have the responsibility of addressing their citizens' aspirations for dignity and rule of law. These are not Western values, they are universal rights that apply to all people in all places."
The remarks released by the State Department made no further mention of human rights but 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.
She said the "four hotspots are some of the most pressing challenges we face" and that the U.S. and China have a shared interest in resolving them."
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. "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 missile launch. "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.
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.