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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Clinton: China no adversary
Former US president Bill Clinton autographs a signboard for the Fortune Global Forum
Bill Clinton gave the closing speech at the forum
By Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong

The former United States President, Bill Clinton, has said America should not assume China is an adversary.


The key is getting the China relationship right

Bill Clinton
He said Washington has a fundamental interest in getting its relationship with China right and the spy plane incident should be seen as a bump in the road.

The comments sounded like a criticism of Mr Bush's decision to treat Beijing as a competitor not a partner.

He made the remarks in a speech given at the end of a gathering in Hong Kong of several hundred senior business executives from around the world.

Giving the closing speech to the Fortune Global Forum in Hong Kong, Mr Clinton also said he still profoundly regretted the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

"America clearly has a fundamental interest in promoting stability, prosperity and partnership in Asia. The key is getting the China relationship right," he said.

Bush's approach

"Getting China into the WTO and a rules-based system of trade will, I believe, increase China's prosperity and its positive interdependence with the rest of the world."

Hong Kong police
Tight security was enforced around the Global Forum centre
In his time in office Bill Clinton did much to improve relations between the United States and China.

Since he departed from the White House he has seen those ties take a turn for the worse.

President George Bush's tougher approach has been exacerbated by the collision between the US surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet.

On Wednesday Mr Clinton met with China's President, Jiang Zemin, who was also at the event.

Hong Kong's authorities have been criticised for their handling of the forum and being too heavy-handed in their security.

Protests

Mr Clinton said the world's richer countries needed to ensure that poor nations weren't left behind.

There have been protests outside the forum by a variety of groups, including those opposed to globalisation.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's government has responded to criticisms that it went too far in muzzling demonstrations while the forum was taking place.

There have been claims the police were heavy handed and the United States and two other countries are demanding explanations why foreign members of the Falun Gong movement were deported from the territory.

Hong Kong's financial secretary said the administration had to make sure the forum was not disrupted.

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See also:

07 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
US resumes spy plane flights
04 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
China attacks 'supremacist' US
03 May 01 | Americas
China blasts Bush policies
15 Jun 99 | Americas
US to explain Chinese embassy attack
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