Delivering the inaugural Richard Holbrooke lecture in the Department of State's Benjamin Franklin Room, Clinton eschewed "zero-sum, 19th-century theories of how major powers interact" and called for cooperation over conflict, reciting an old Chinese saying, "When you're in the same boat you have to row in the same direction."
Notwithstanding China's rapid economic growth in the past 30 years, Clinton noted its gross domestic product is one-third the size of the U.S. GDP with a population four times greater.
"China has a lot of work to do to move from a state-dominated economy, dependent on external demand and technology, to a more market-oriented economy powered by domestic demand and innovation," Clinton said.
She said China must also overcome its "reluctance at times to join us in building a stable and transparent military-to-military relationship."
"Both sides would benefit from sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency. We need more high-level visits, more joint exercises, more exchanges from our professional military organizations, and other steps to build that trust, understanding of intentions, and familiarity," Clinton said, adding China must do its part to pressure North Korea to honor its 2005 commitment to "irreversibly end its nuclear program."
Before closing her remarks by welcoming China as a "rising power," Clinton chastised its human-rights record, saying repression of freedom will only lead to more "empty chairs in Oslo."
"Denying people the right to express their discontent can easily create more unrest, while embracing reforms can strengthen societies and unleash new potential for development," Clinton advised the Chinese government as the White House prepares for the arrival of President Hu Jintao.