'US must find positive issues with China'

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 23 2013 07:41 AM | Updated as of Jan 23 2013 03:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former US ambassador John Negroponte believes the United States must find “positive issues” to engage China despite controversies in their relationship.

Speaking before business and civil society groups in Makati yesterday, the former US deputy secretary of state and first director of national intelligence said the two countries should not just deal with contentious issues.

“We have to find positive issues on which to work with China,” he said. “It can’t all be about negative issues where we find ourselves competitive or adversarial.”

Negroponte said one issue that China and the US can work on is addressing the problem of climate change.

“What we have to think about in the relationship with China is, are there areas we can cooperate together?” he said.

“I don’t think even the Chinese would argue with the fact they have now equaled us in terms of carbon emissions and therefore clearly, we’ve got to come to some kind of understanding with the rest of the world about what they intend to do about it.”

Negroponte, who served as US ambassador to the Philippines in the 1990s, believes the Chinese can serve as allies in the move to address climate change.

“I think one of our allies in this process is China’s own population and their own growing middle class who I don’t think are that enamored of waking up in this dense environmental smog that they have been confronting,” he said.

Negroponte, however, believes the relationship with China would continue to pose challenges in the future.

“The overall relationship with China will be a challenge for decades to come – indeed for the next generation. I think that applies not only to the United States but obviously countries that are in closer proximity to China, such as the countries in East Asia and the Pacific,” he said.

Now is the right time for the US to strengthen its alliances with the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia, Negroponte said.

Negroponte spoke during a joint meeting of members of the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, and the Asia Society.

Negroponte, who co-chairs the US-Philippines Society together with businessman Manuel Pangilinan, arrived in Manila on Monday night from Tokyo.

He is expected to meet with President Aquino this morning, together with a delegation of top US business executives.

They are here to promote investment and trade opportunities between the two countries. – Alexis Romero, Rudy Santos