US urges growing China to be `responsible player`

The US stresses its commitment to Asia after security talks with Australia.

Melbourne: The United States on Monday urged China to be a "responsible player" as its global influence grows and stressed its commitment to Asia after security talks with Australia during a regional diplomatic push.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the comment after meeting Australian officials alongside US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, in talks which produced an agreement to cooperate on security surveillance in outer space.

Hillary, who is nearing the end of a comprehensive Asian tour, said the United States had a "very robust dialogue with China", calling for the emerging giant to use its newfound power responsibly.

"As China becomes more of a player in regional and global affairs, then we expect that China will be a responsible player and will participate in the international framework of rules that govern the way nations behave and conduct themselves," Hillary told a news conference.

The visit by Hillary and Gates coincides with a trip by President Barack Obama to India, kicking off a four-nation tour as the United States looks to extend its presence in the increasingly important region.

"The United States has a long presence in the Asia-Pacific. We`ve been there for 100 years," Hillary said.

"We`ve been here, we are here and we will be here. The United States is both a Pacific and Atlantic power and if there were any question or doubt about our intentions, I hope that the last 20 months of the Obama administration has put those finally to rest."

Both sides expressed concern over a recent territorial dispute which sparked an angry diplomatic row between historic rivals China and Japan, calling for a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

They also signed an agreement paving the way for closer cooperation on the surveillance of space, citing "deep concern" over the increasingly congested area.

China in 2007 launched a ballistic missile to knock out one of its old weather satellites, prompting widespread concern it was moving to spread its military influence to objects orbiting Earth.

"Australia and the United States shared a deep concern about the increasingly interdependent, congested, and contested nature of outer space and acknowledged that preventing behaviours that could result in mishaps, misperceptions or mistrust was a high priority," a joint statement said.

Hillary and Gates had earlier, in a newspaper commentary, vowed to beef up the United States` military presence in the region, reflecting worries over rising China.

The talks in Melbourne coincide with China`s increasingly assertive stance in the Pacific, with Japan and other Asian neighbours locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.

US military officials and strategists have watched China`s growing military and economic clout with concern, seeing Beijing as a potential threat to Washington`s once unrivalled dominance of the Pacific.

During the talks, the US and Australia also renewed their commitment to work together in Afghanistan and slammed Myanmar for failing to hold free and fair elections over the weekend, its first polls in 20 years.

Bureau Report