Strong U.S. economy good for China, Locke says

BEIJING — U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said Friday a stronger U.S. economy is in China’s interest and he will promote trade and human rights as the new envoy in Beijing.

“The highest priority of the United States today is to create jobs for Americans and revitalize our economy. Given our economic interdependence, a stronger American economy is in the economic self-interest of the Chinese people,” he said to university students.

A former commerce secretary and governor of Washington, Locke is the first Chinese-American to hold the post. It’s become increasingly important as China’s economy, grows steadily and the United States copes with high unemployment.

His speech at Beijing Foreign Studies University was his first public address since taking office Aug. 13.

China and the United States are not engaged in a zero-sum competition, where the failure of one means the rise of the other, Locke said.

“So many problems in the world today … simply will not be solved without strong U.S.-China cooperation,” he said.

Locke repeated past U.S. comments that in the long run, countries that respect human rights are the most successful and stable.

He said the basic premise were the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“These are universal standards, and they include the right to due process of law, to be able to speak freely, to associate openly, to pray in the manner one chooses and to enjoy the benefits of a free press,” he said.

The U.S. has often criticized China’s human rights record, saying there is a lack of free speech, no independent courts and restrictions on religious freedom.

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