Clinton urges U.S.-China co-operation on clean technology

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed senior Chinese officials Saturday to co-operate on a number of issues, including the environment, the world financial crisis and security threats.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed senior Chinese officials Saturday to co-operate on a number of issues, including the environment, the world financial crisis and security threats.

After a meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Clinton spoke of a new partnership between the U.S. and China to reduce carbon emissions, a tall order since the United States is the biggest energy consumer in the world.

China could be the biggest by next year, according to the International Energy Agency. 

"The United States and China will build an important partnership to develop and deploy clean energy technologies designed to speed our transformation to low-carbon economies," Clinton said in Beijing.

"Areas for useful co-operation include renewable energy, the capture and storage of CO2 from coal plants and energy efficiency in our buildings," she added.

Earlier, she met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and said they had agreed "in principle to a strategic and economic dialogue" between the United States and China, one she hoped would be formally announced by Hu and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Shortly before arriving in Beijing, Clinton said the debate with China over human rights and its policies on Taiwan and Tibet should not overshadow attempts to reach a consensus on broader issues.

"Our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises," she said.

"We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and co-operation on each of those. World events have given us a full and formidable agenda."

Frank talk predicted

Clinton later told reporters she and China's foreign minister would have "frank discussions on issues where we have disagreements, including human rights, Tibet, religious freedom and freedom of expression."

The secretary of state said plans are in the works to expand high-level talks between the U.S. and China on economic issues to include security matters.

Details of the dialogue are to be settled by the presidents of the two countries when they meet at an economic summit in London in early April, Clinton said.

Along with co-operating on the financial crisis and climate change, the United States wants China to step up efforts to address threats like nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea and tenuous security situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In addition, Clinton said the U.S. would like to see China play a positive role in Myanmar and Sudan, two countries that receive large Chinese investments but whose governments are at odds with Washington.

Clinton said she appreciates the Chinese government's "continuing confidence" in U.S. treasury bonds, adding she thinks it's a "well-grounded confidence."

"We have every reason to believe that the United States and China will recover and that together we will help to lead the world recovery," she said.

China has $1.95 trillion US worth of foreign exchange reserves and is the world's largest holder of U.S. government debt.

Beijing is the last stop on Clinton's first overseas trip as secretary of state. The week-long tour has included visits to Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

With files from the Associated Press