Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

China can’t halt history: Clinton [The Age/AFP]


US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue 2011: There seems little the U.S. can do to make China fidgety about its human rights record aymore – ‘deplorable’ and ‘fool’s errand’ have been used, and China’s response seems to be standard these days – Beijing will move at its own speed.

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China can’t halt history: Clinton
Simon Mann, Washington
Source – The Age, published May 12, 2011

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan looks on during closing remarks during the 2011 US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. Photo: MANDEL NGAN

HILLARY Clinton has described China’s human rights record as ”deplorable” and accused its leadership of engaging in a ”fool’s errand” in trying to thwart the march of history.

The US Secretary of State, in a long interview with Atlantic magazine, touched on whether Beijing feared that pro-democracy protests sweeping the Middle East could reach Tiananmen Square.

”They’re worried,” she said. ”They’re trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it, but they’re going to hold off as long as possible.”

Her comments were published as the US and China ended their at times ”testy” talks on a range of economic and strategic initiatives, during which the world’s two biggest economies pledged new co-operation on trade and monetary matters.

Mrs Clinton praised the outcome of the talks. ”We discussed everything, whether it was something that was sensitive to us or sensitive to them, all these difficult issues including human rights,” she said.

A senior Chinese finance official described the results as ”win-win”, with both countries agreeing China’s currency needed to strengthen. But, China’s Vice Finance Minister, Zhu Guangyao, tempered expectations, adding Beijing would move at its own speed.

Mrs Clinton’s published comments offered a public view of what the Obama administration had been asserting in private. ”We do business with a lot of countries whose economic systems or political systems are not ones we would design or choose to live under,” she told the magazine.

”We encourage consistency, both publicly and privately, reform and the protection of human rights. But we don’t walk away from dealing with China because we think they have a deplorable human rights record.”

The interview was given more than three weeks ago, and at a time of heightened tension between the two countries over China’s escalating crackdown on dissidents in response to anonymous calls for protests circulating on the internet. Coinciding with the end of the two-party talks was a State Department announcement that the US planned to inject nearly $US20 million ($A18.5 million) into new technology in a bid to crack internet controls in China, Iran and other authoritarian states.

Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state in charge of human rights, said funding would support cutting-edge technology that acts as a ”slingshot” – identifying material that countries are censoring and throwing it back at them. ”We’re responding with new tools. This is a cat-and-mouse game. We’re trying to stay one step ahead of the cat,” he said.

China’s human rights record has long been a source of tension between Washington and Beijing, with Chinese officials keen to defend it.

During the talks, China agreed to remove barriers to US companies competing for lucrative Chinese government contracts and also to pave the way for US mutual funds to operate in the country.

The developments were cited as ”very promising shifts in policy” by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, although he repeated that China needed to allow the yuan to rise in value to correct trade imbalances.

With AFP

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Filed under: AFP, Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Jasmine Revolution, Mapping Feelings, Media, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategic Economic Dialogue, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

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