Phát biểu tại thượng đỉnh Nam Thái Bình Dương ngày 31/08/2012, Ngoại trưởng Mỹ mong muốn Bắc Kinh giúp đỡ các nước trong khu vực nhiều hơn và một cách công bằng hơn. Washington cam kết viện trợ 32 triệu đô la giúp các quốc đảo trong vùng đối phó với biến đổi khí hậu.
Trả lời báo chí, bà Hillary Clinton nhấn mạnh : « Điều quan trọng là các quốc gia trong vùng Thái Bình Dương cần có quan hệ tốt với nhiều đối tác, kể cả đối với Trung Quốc và Hoa Kỳ ». Ngầm chỉ trích Trung Quốc dùng các phương tiện tài chính dồi dào để tạo ảnh hưởng đối với quần đảo Fiji và một số quốc đảo nhỏ khác trong vùng, Ngoại trưởng Mỹ nói thêm : đối với khu vực Thái Bình Dương bà mong muốn trông thấy « Trung Quốc hành xử một cách công bằng và minh bạch ».
Về sự tranh giành ảnh hưởng giữa Washington và Bắc Kinh trong vùng, bà Hillary Clinton cho rằng Thái Bình Dương là một khu vực « đủ rộng lớn để Hoa Kỳ và Trung Quốc » cùng hiện diện. Tuyên bố trên nhằm làm giảm bớt căng thẳng Mỹ – Trung vài ngày trước khi bà đến Bắc Kinh để thảo luận về quan hệ song phương. Báo chí Trung Quốc đã liên tục chỉ trích chuyến viếng thăm quần đảo Cook của ngoại trưởng Hoa Kỳ và cho rằng Washington đang tìm cách « kềm tỏa » Trung Quốc tại Thái Bình Dương.
Trước phát biểu của Ngoại trưởng Mỹ, Hillary Clinton, thứ trưởng Ngoại giao Trung Quốc Thôi Thiên Khải hôm 30/08/2012 đã tuyên bố là Bắc Kinh « không cạnh tranh với bất kỳ một ai để gia tăng ảnh hưởng của mình trong khu vực Thái Bình Dương ». Trong thông cáo đề ngày 01/09/2012, phát ngôn viên bộ Ngoại giao Trung Quốc, Hồng Lỗi chỉ trích các chính khách Mỹ thường xuyên « can thiệp vào công việc nội bộ của Trung Quốc » và Bắc Kinh cho rằng, để quan hệ song phương có thể phát triển tốt đẹp, các nhà chính trị của Mỹ nên « chấm dứt phê bình Trung Quốc một cách vô tội vạ và không có cơ sở ».
Lần đầu tiên đến dự Diễn đàn Đảo quốc Thái Bình Dương tại quần đảo Cook, bà Hillary Clinton thông báo Mỹ viện trợ 32 triệu đô la cho các nước trong vùng Thái Bình Dương để đối phó với hiện tượng mực nước biển dâng cao. Bà cam kết là đến năm 2020 Hoa Kỳ sẽ giảm 17 % lượng khí thải CO2 so với thời điểm năm 2005. Đó là một trong những điều tổng thống Barack Obama từng hứa nhân thượng đỉnh về khí hậu năm 2009 tại Copenhagen.
‘Big enough for all of us’: Clinton says US can work with China in Pacific
Jim Watson / AP
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during an event on peace and security in the Pacific, in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, on Friday.
By NBC News wire services
RAROTONGA, Cook Islands — The United States will buttress security partnerships across the Pacific as it strengthens ties with island nations, but also hopes to work more closely with China as Beijing expands its own influence in the region, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Friday.
Clinton arrived in the tiny Pacific outpost of the Cook Islands for this year’s Pacific Islands Forum, part of Washington’s effort to woo nations across the Asia-Pacific which are increasingly coming under China’s shadow.
Clinton told the gathering, which represents 16 independent and self-governing states ranging from Australia and New Zealand to smaller islands such as Tuvalu and Nauru, that the United States was in the region for the long haul.
But she also played down growing perceptions of a U.S.-China rivalry in the region, declaring “the Pacific is big enough for all of us” and dismissing the notion that expanded U.S. activity was “a hedge against particular countries.”
“We think it is important for the Pacific Island nations to have good relationships with as many partners as possible, and that includes China as well as the United States,” Clinton told a news conference with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
“We want to see more international development projects that include the participation of China,” Clinton said, citing disaster relief, maritime security and preserving bio-diversity.
“We think that there’s a great opportunity to work with China and we’re going to be looking for more ways to do that,” she said.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai is also attending the Pacific forum and told reporters Beijing’s presence in the Pacific was not about geo-political influence.
“We are here in this region not to seek any particular influence, still less dominance,” Cui told a news conference before Clinton made her remarks.
The wife of a disgraced Chinese politician has been given a suspended death sentence for her role in the death of British businessman, Neil Heywood. ITV’s Angus Walker reports.
“We are here to work with island countries to achieve sustainable development, because both China and the Pacific island countries belong to the rank of developing countries.
“Although we are far away geographically, although we have different national conditions….we are faced with very similar tasks of achieving sustainable development, of improving the lives of our peoples.”
$32 million in new aid
Despite her softer tone on China — which comes just four days before she pays a visit to Beijing next week — Clinton also sought to underscore the benefits of the “American model of partnership” in a region where China has in recent years dramatically stepped up its diplomacy and foreign assistance.
She announced more than $32 million in new U.S. programs on issues ranging from sustainable development, climate change and marine protection.
But Clinton also stressed that the United States plays a crucial security role in the region, noting that the U.S. Coast Guard already has formal partnerships with nine Pacific Island nations and was working to build more as part of a broader “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific.
“All of us have an interest in maintaining peace and security in the Pacific,” Clinton said, adding the United States was committed to helping fight illegal and unregulated shipping, patrol fishing grounds, and combat other human trafficking.
In a signal of Washington’s security emphasis on the region, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) chief Admiral Samuel Locklear also traveled to Rarotonga to hail joint maritime exercises and cooperation on issues such as cleaning up unexploded ordinance left over from the Second World War.
“U.S. PACOM is committed to supporting our Pacific Island partners,” Locklear said.
Rivalry with China
Clinton’s trip to the South Pacific has spurred some criticism in China, where some commentators accused the United States of seeking to stir up trouble as Beijing’s economic and political influence expands.
In recent trips to other regions of the world, most notably Africa, Clinton has sought to contrast the U.S. approach to cooperative economic development with other models such as China’s, which focus more on condition-free loans and extractive industries such as mining and timber.
Beijing is financing projects across the region including constructing parliament buildings, airports, roads and hospitals and giving out grants for Chinese language instruction.
Clinton depicted these efforts, which some local analysts say appear aimed at building Beijing’s influence in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, as not necessarily at odds with U.S. interests — although she pointedly noted that sometimes China’s methods were open to criticism.
“Here in the Pacific we want to see China act in a fair and transparent way,” Clinton said.
The three-day visit by Clinton and the 60-odd person U.S. delegation to the Cook Islands – which is in free association with New Zealand – was a major event for the nation’s main island of Rarotonga, which has only about 11,000 people.
We are encouraged by you and your government’s commitment to strengthen the United States government’s engagement in our region,” Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna said in his welcoming remarks.
Clinton’s trip will continue to Indonesia and China next week, where her new conciliatory tone will be put the test in talks expected to focus on rising tensions in the South China Sea where Beijing is at odds with several of its southern neighbors over territorial claims.
A summit of regional leaders in July failed to reach consensus on how to handle the disputes. Clinton will press them to find common ground and hash out a framework for negotiating with China, U.S. officials said.
One senior official told reporters that it was “absolutely manifest” that ASEAN nations find a way to deal with China. “It’s not a matter of geo-strategy, it’s a matter of geography,” the official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly preview the discussions, said Clinton would be stressing the U.S. view “that it is absolutely essential that cooler heads prevail in every capital and that great care be taken on these issues.”
The U.S. takes no position on the sovereignty of the disputed territories, though some are claimed by allies such as South Korea, Japan and the Philippines as well as China, but “insists that they are dealt with diplomatically, without coercion (and) without the threat of the use of force.”
Clinton will finish the trip with stops in Brunei and East Timor before heading to the Russian port city of Vladivostok, where she will represent U.S. President Barack Obama at this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit of regional leaders.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.