Join our Mailing List

"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Hillary Clinton’s challenge to PRC

February 3, 2009

By Richard Halloran

Taiwan Times, Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009, Page 8

Buried in US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony in her
confirmation hearing before Congress two weeks ago was a subtle
challenge to China wrapped in an evident preface to US President Barack
Obama’s emerging policy toward Beijing.

Shortly after, and almost on cue, Beijing published a White Paper on
defense that pointed warily to what they saw as an increase in US power
in Asia. The US, the White Paper said, has been “consolidating its
military alliances, adjusting its military deployment and enhancing its
military capabilities” in the Asia-Pacific region.

Clinton, who was confirmed as secretary the day after Obama’s
inauguration on Jan. 20, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
“We want a positive and cooperative relationship with China.”

She said, however, that “this is not a one-way effort. Much of what we
will do depends on the choices China makes about its future at home and

In a written report, Clinton answered earlier questions from the
committee and elaborated on what the US expects.

“We can encourage them to become a full and responsible participant in
the international community — to join the world in addressing common
challengers like climate change and nuclear proliferation — and to make
greater progress toward a more open and market-based society. But it is
ultimately up to them,” she said.

An interesting sequence here: On Jan. 8, then US deputy secretary of
state John Negroponte was in Beijing to mark 30 years of Sino-American
diplomatic relations, but evidently was not informed of the forthcoming
White Paper, which took months to prepare. On Jan. 13, Clinton testified
and her written report was made public. On Jan. 20, the Chinese released
their White Paper, the same day Obama took office.

In substance, Clinton’s testimony suggested that Obama’s policy toward
China would continue that of former president George W. Bush. But the
firm tone, challenging China to respond without ambiguity, was new.

Clinton was non-committal on dialogue with Beijing, saying in her
written report: “We are looking carefully at the question of how to
develop this important engagement with China. We expect high-level
engagement to continue in some form.”

However, Clinton was clear on the issues of Taiwan, Tibet and human
rights in China.

On Taiwan, Clinton followed precedents set earlier.

“The administration’s policy will be to help Taiwan and China resolve
their differences peacefully while making clear that any unilateral
change in the status quo is unacceptable,” she said.

The former government of president Chen Shui-bian nudged Taiwan toward
independence, while the current government of President Ma Ying-jeou
(???) has pledged to maintain the “status quo.”

Clinton said the new administration “will speak out for the human rights
and religious freedom of the people of Tibet. If Tibetans are to live in
harmony with the rest of China’s people, their religion and culture must
be respected. Tibet should enjoy genuine and meaningful autonomy.”

Beyond Tibet, Clinton said, the US administration would “press China on
our concerns about human rights at every opportunity and at all levels,
publicly and privately, both through our mission in China and in

In response, China’s White Paper asserted: “Separatist forces working
for ‘Taiwan independence,’ ‘East Turkestan independence’ and ‘Tibet
independence’ pose threats to China’s unity.” East Turkestan refers to
Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang Province.

China, the paper contended, “faces strategic maneuvers and containment
from the outside.” US presidents, secretaries of state and defense,
commanders of US Pacific forces and US ambassadors in Beijing have
sought for much of the last 30 years to persuade Chinese leaders that
the US poses no threat, apparently without success.

The White Paper contends: “In particular, the United States continues to
sell arms to Taiwan in violation of the principles established in the
three Sino-US joint communiques, causing serious harm to Sino-US
relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.”

The three communiques, of 1972, 1979 and 1982 were intended to define
relations between the US and China but have been in dispute from the
beginning as the US and China disagree on what they mean. The US, for
instance, says they call on China and Taiwan to settle their differences
peacefully; Chinese say they retain the right to employ military force
to settle the dispute.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank