One highlight of Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton's first overseas trip will be a stop in China. Her main
mission in Beijing will be to ensure that US-China relations under the new Obama
administration get off to a positive start.
China is looking forward to
welcoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Beijing. This sentiment has been
stressed repeatedly by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.
China sees this as an important high-level exchange between the two
She says her government hopes the two sides can have in-depth
discussions on Sino-American relations, the international financial crisis and
other issues of mutual concern.
Speaking in New York before departing for
Asia, Secretary Clinton said Washington sees a good relationship with China as
"It is even clearer now, in economic hard times and in the
array of global challenges we face, from nuclear security to climate change to
pandemic disease and so much else."
She listed other areas of American
concern, including talks aimed at stopping North Korea's nuclear program and
China's international peacekeeping efforts.
Human rights activists in
China also hope that Secretary Clinton will put pressure on the Chinese
government to improve its human rights record.
Ding Zilin's son was
killed by Chinese troops in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Chinese
authorities detained her in 1995, when then-First Lady Clinton was in Beijing
for the United Nations Women's Conference.
Ding says Hillary Clinton's
name is very familiar to Chinese people. She credits Clinton with lending her
key support to successful efforts to get Ding out of detention.
she hopes Secretary Clinton can talk to Chinese authorities about Liu Xiaobo, a
dissident who has been in detention for more than two months for helping to
formulate a major human-rights document called Charter 08. Among other things,
it calls for multi-party democracy and legal reform.
Orville Schell, the
director of the Asia Society's Center on US-China Relations, says he thinks
there is another, more urgent, issue that "should move to the head of the line."
That issue is climate change.
"This is the challenge of our time. We are
on the precipice of a very deep and threatening abyss," Schell said.
says this does not mean that other issues - such as trade disputes and human
rights differences - are not important.
"But it also means, I think, that
if the U.S. and China could successfully begin to gain some collaborative
momentum on climate change, I think many of these other issues would become less
intractable and more easy to resolve, because we would have, at the heart of the
matter, some common purpose," Schell said.
China and the United States
are the world's two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas
that causes global warming.
Chinese Professor Sun Zhe directs the
U.S.-China Relations Center at Beijing's Tsinghua University. He also thinks
Secretary Clinton's talks with Chinese leaders will focus largely on
environmental and economic issues.
"[The] main part will be climate
change and energy cooperation, the financial crisis - this kind of more
important things, more urgent things," the professor said.
Sun says he
thinks Secretary Clinton will mention human rights insome of her talks, to
"express some American values."
"Some of her views on human rights are
already known in China," Sun noted. "But people, at least as far as I know, the
people from the ministries, policy practitioners, and in academia, people here
in China, we understand her point of view, but we also think that China can work
with her in other areas."
Secretary Clinton arrives in China Friday.
While in Beijing, she is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao,
Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. She also is set to attend a
church service, meet with civil society leaders and tour a Sino-American thermal
power plant before leaving China, Sunday.