Thursday 21 February 2019

Clinton: Human rights not a priority for US

Richard Spencer in Beijing

Hillary Clinton told China's leaders yesterday that America considered human rights concerns secondary to economic survival.

Arriving in China on her first visit as US secretary of state she promised a new relationship between the two countries, a relationship she considered to be the world's most important of the 21st century.

Mrs Clinton landed in Beijing from South Korea, where she criticised the "tyranny" of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. However, she offered a hand of friendship to Mr Kim's ally, China, contradicting hostile policies both she and President Barack Obama promised in campaigning before the presidential election.

She said she would continue to press China on issues such as human rights and Tibet, but added: "Our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis."

Mr Obama's campaign pledges to protect American jobs from competition from low-wage economies and to force China to revalue its currency were received badly in Beijing.

However, Washington has been left with little choice but to improve ties in the wake of the financial meltdown, in which the huge trade imbalances between the two have led to a debt crisis in the US and an export crisis in China. Mrs Clinton referred to a Chinese aphorism that "when you are in the same boat, you should keep the peace on the crossing". China now owns more than $600bn (€467bn) of US government debt, and will be called on to buy more as President Obama's stimulus package inflates the budget deficit. Jim McGregor, the former head of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said that where US leaders once came to Beijing to hand out lectures now they came to "kiss up".

Church

US state department officials said Mrs Clinton was likely to go to church in Beijing on Sunday, something President George W Bush did when visiting to highlight lack of religious freedom in China.

But they said Mrs Clinton's churchgoing was "private" and, unlike that of Mr Bush, would not be open to the media. (© Daily Telegraph, London).

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