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Chinese delighted after Hillary Clinton avoids human rights criticism

February 25, 2009

China has reacted with delight to Hillary Clinton's decision on her
first visit as US secretary of state that she would put economic
relations before human rights.

By Richard Spencer in Beijing
The Telegraph
Last Updated: 4:26PM GMT 23 Feb 2009

Mrs Clinton not only made little public mention of the issue, but also
showed no sign of having pressed China over another major bone of
contention with America - claims that Beijing manipulates its currency
to give itself an unfair trade advantage.

Praise for the change of tack in state newspapers after she returned
home on Sunday was enthusiastic. "Clinton's visit delivered what is
needed desperately - a sense of certainty in the diplomatic vacuum
between two presidencies," said China Daily, the official
English-language voice of the Communist Party.

It referred to the improved relationship in the later years of the
administration of President George W Bush. Many in China feared that
relationship would change with President Barack Obama, who was critical
of Chinese trade policies during his election campaign, and with Mrs
Clinton, who has previously criticised Beijing strongly over human rights.

Mrs Clinton, who also visited Japan, Indonesia and South Korea on her
tour of the Far East, said that she would continue to raise human rights
issues but that they would not be allowed to interfere with discussions
on economics, climate change and security.

On Sunday she met women's rights activists at the American embassy in
Beijing, including some who had come into conflict with the regime. One
was Gao Yaojie, an 82-year-old doctor who was repeatedly harassed and
put under house arrest after revealing the extent of Hiv-Aids infection
in central China.

But a sufficient number of the "activists" were from government-backed
organisations for the meeting to receive a favourable write up in state
media.

Even Global Times, an offshoot of People's Daily notable for its
anti-Americanism, was approving of Mrs Clinton.

"In the future, the United States will sooner or later raise the issue
of human rights in China, but it might not be too extreme," it said,
quoting a government academic.

"This type of realistic attitude could be followed by other Western
leaders."
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