U.S. News

Rice Tells CNBC: China Needs to Be "Fairer" Trade Partner

Jim Kingsland

China could play "fairer" in its trade relations with the United States, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo Friday.

Excerpts from the interview will air on "Closing Bell" Friday.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Haraz N. Ghanbari

"On balance, a strong, growing Chinese economy is good for the international community, but China needs to play by the rules," she said. The Bush Administration continues to pursue structural reforms in China to gain greater market access, Rice said.

"When China gained accession to the World Trade Organization everyone said that it was important that an economy of the size and potential power of China be encased in, integrated into, an international economic system where the rules of the game were established," she said.

"China now has to absolutely live up to those rules," Rice said.

Rice also said the Bush administration will continue to pursue reform of the Chinese currency so that the yuan is "reflective of the market."

Backs Administration's Stance on Job-Based Visas

In a wide-ranging discussion, Rice also defended the State Department's cutoff of job-based visas to foreign professionals.

On Monday, the State Department announced no more permanent residency visas would be made available for this year. However, less than a month ago, the department had announced a two-month window for highly skilled immigrants to submit applications for visas, also known as green cards.

"When they were filled, we had to cut it off at that point," Rice said. "There's a ceiling that's set every year, and when that ceiling was reached, then we couldn't issue the visas any longer. We're prepared to talk to people about what happened here, and if there were problems with communication, then it should be looked at."

The New York Times reported Friday that a national association of immigration lawyers was planning to bring a class action lawsuit against the federal immigration agency for cutting off the applicants.

Won't Commit to Iraq Troop Withdrawal Timetable

The Secretary of State reiterated the Bush Administrations goal to move the Iraqi political system to what she called "reconciliation" by providing Iraqi citizens with security. She said, "we all see the same future, which is a different future than the present, and in which American forces would clearly be doing a different mission."

But Rice refused to commit to a U.S. troop withdrawal timetable.

"I can't talk about a timeline because it has to be based on conditions on the ground. But of course, there will come a time when the responsibilities of the United States look different than they do now."

Iran Becoming 'Increasingly Dangerous'

As for Iran, the Secretary of State said relations with the country have become far more difficult.

Iran is becoming "increasingly dangerous," she said, citing Iran's pursuit of technologies that would lead to a nuclear weapon.

"It supports terrorism around the world, like supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, supporting very radical elements of Hamas in the Gaza Strip," Rice said. "In the south of Iraq, Iran is supporting and arming militias that are then threatening our force presence in Iraq."

Rice would not rule out a use of force against Iran, saying: "the President's never going to take his options off the table, and frankly no one should want the President to take his options off the table."

Rice, however, said the administration continues to believe diplomatic solutions to the "Iran problem" are still possible. Rice also said the U.S. will continue to exert financial pressures on Iran.

"We are working on financial measures that really will say to the Iranians that you cannot use the benefits of the international financial system, and continue to pursue a nuclear weapon," she said. "So we have means at our disposal to change Iranian behavior."

Blackberry and iPod

Rice also told Bartiromo that she no longer owns a Blackberry mobile device. Rice explained that the State Department security officials "don't let me play with anything technological now; it seems that they all want to do it for me. It's too bad because I love the Internet and email."

Rice did say that she does own an Apple iPod. What's on it?

"It is an interesting and rather strange mixture of Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven, and the Gap Band and Aretha Franklin...you name it's on there," she said.