US officials: Engage more with China

Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and other American officials have called for more people-to-people engagement to improve US-China relations.

"Pathways for people-to-people exchange are needed now more than ever, and we must do what we can to support and promote the sectors and platforms on which that exchange takes place," said Albright, the country's first female secretary of state, at a forum hosted by the US-Asia Institute last week.

Albright, who was appointed US ambassador to the United Nations in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and then served as his secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, said she has seen that tourism, hospitality and cultural exchange that promote people-to-people exchange have "always been critical pillars" of China-US relations.

"This relationship must be constantly managed through key formal and informal channels of people-to-people engagement. We all know that difficult discussions are far better than no discussions," she said.

Albright also called for reminding US leaders that bilateral cultural exchanges are needed not only to benefit economies, but also to help provide "much needed ballast, a stabilizing force as we manage a more contentious US-China relationship going forward".

The US National Security Council's coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, Kurt Campbell, said in May that the period of engagement between the US and China has come to an end and the "dominant paradigm" is competition.

"Just because our bilateral relationship has become competitive does not mean that it cannot create value or yield benefits for both the United States and China and for the world," Albright told the forum.

"A more competitive bilateral relationship should not preclude the United States and China from working together to strengthen our economies and meeting the numerous global challenges where our two countries' interests align," she said.

Susan Thornton, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told the forum that she disagreed that the era of engagemen

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