The United States and China are both crucial players in ensuring security in Asia-Pacific and can overcome their differences through "constructive engagement", Washington's ambassador to Beijing said yesterday.
In his first major public address on Sino-US ties since he took up his post in March, Max Baucus indicated the US would maintain a presence in Asia and urged both sides to manage their differences. "Security in the region depends in large part on the constructive engagement between the US and China," he told the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, where he outlined his nation's hopes for Sino-US relations.
Baucus said the US would deepen engagement with China on critical global security issues.
Baucus said the two countries should be able to "work together on any problem", and dismissed as "simply untrue" concerns that the US sought to contain China.
"Nothing in the US-China relationship is pre-ordained," he said. "Conflicts between a rising power and an established power are not inevitable. It's up to us."
The US welcomed a strong, stable and prosperous China, he added .
His remarks came as four People's Liberation Army ships departed to join the US-led Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) drills - the world's largest international naval exercise. It is the first time China has participated in the event, and analysts say the move will give a slight boost to relations that have frayed over tensions in the South China Sea, allegations of cyberspying from both sides and disputes over human rights.
Beijing dispatched a guided-missile destroyer, guided-missile escort ship, supply ship and hospital ship to join the drills starting today. Rimpac lasts until August 1 and involves 23 nations - including Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines, which each have territorial disputes with Beijing.
Next month, top American officials, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, will visit Beijing for the two countries' annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which covers a range of issues, from economic engagement to bilateral, regional and global security.
Baucus touched on China's economic development in his remarks, saying the nation was at a "critical juncture" as it pushed reforms forward and reduced its reliance on export-driven growth. He also called on China to honour the rights of citizens.
China and the US remain suspicious of each other's strategic intentions, despite years of thriving economic cooperation.
Figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said bilateral trade reached US$521 billion last year.
Beijing has been wary about the US "pivot to Asia" announced by US President Barack Obama and Washington's provision of support to nations involved in territorial disputes with China.