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Hillary Clinton's Asian Trip

Worldpress.org, Comment and analysis from South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, China, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Philippines., February 23, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a lecture at the Ewha Womans University on Feb. 20 in Seoul, South Korea during her first diplomatic tour to Asia. (Photo: Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)

SOUTH AFRICA — Business Day, (Feb. 20): U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday raised the possibility of a power struggle in North Korea, saying that this made it more urgent to find a way to end the secretive state's nuclear weapons program. Clinton said on her arrival in South Korea yesterday that "the whole leadership situation is somewhat unclear" in North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong-il was believed by some to have suffered a stroke last August. ... Clinton arrived in Seoul on the third stop of her Asia tour following weeks of increasingly angry rhetoric by North Korea and reports it may be preparing to test a long-range missile that, in theory, could reach Alaska.

INDIA — Times of India, (Feb. 21): Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Tokyo to begin her first trip abroad as President Barack Obama's chief diplomat, said Washington's alliance with Japan is a cornerstone for the U.S. and warned North Korea to live up to its commitments to dismantle its nuclear programs. … Clinton said the main issues on her agenda included climate change, clean energy and nuclear proliferation, along with the global financial crisis. … Last week, Clinton warned North Korea against any "provocative action and unhelpful rhetoric." … Clinton said one goal of her trip was to demonstrate a new U.S. commitment to work with Asian leaders on "problems that no one nation, including ours, can deal with alone."

SAUDI ARABIA — Arab News, (Feb. 14): Hillary's first overseas tour to Asia takes in U.S. relations with China and the need for the U.S. to recognize the rising economic power of the G-30 states if it is to mobilize Asian help to fight the U.S. recession and global economic crisis. But the U.S. position on the Middle East will also loom large, along with concerns on how the U.S. will handle global Muslim hot spots in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. … In an interview on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel, [President] Obama said he supported a Palestinian state that is contiguous and with internal freedom of movement, that can trade with neighboring countries. This is a good start. … The twin state solution must not become a false trail, forced upon Israelis and Palestinians from outside.

CHINA — China View, (Feb. 22): While Clinton was sparing no efforts to highlight the importance of her first diplomatic trip since taking office, the mass media and observers have also been following the visits closely, believing that they would send important signals about new U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration's diplomatic policies in the region. … Up to her latest visit to Beijing, she reiterated the U.S. promise made in the Sino-U.S. Joint Communique of Aug. 17, 1982, under which the United States recognized the Chinese government as the sole legal government of China, and acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China, and Taiwan is part of China. Such a positive posture has apparently laid an important foundation for the further development of Beijing-Washington ties.

AUSTRALIA — The Sydney Morning Herald, (Feb. 21): Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock after U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China. … "The U.S. government cannot afford to let Beijing set the agenda," said Tenzin Dorjee, deputy director of the New York-based advocacy group. … China has been pouring troops into the Himalayan territory ahead of next month's 50th anniversary of the uprising that sent Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama into exile in India. … Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had sent a letter to Clinton before her maiden Asia visit urging her to raise human rights concerns with Chinese leaders. Before she left, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said human rights would be "an important issue" for Clinton and that she would "raise the issue when appropriate."

UNITED KINGDOM — The Daily Telegraph, (Feb. 20): Mrs. Clinton landed in Beijing from South Korea, where she lashed out at the North Korean "tyranny" of its leader Kim Jong-il. But in contrast she offered a conciliatory hand of friendship to Mr. Kim's ally China, contradicting hostile policies both she and President Barack Obama promised during their presidential campaigns last year. … 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." … China now owns more than $600 billion of U.S. government debt, and will be called on to buy more as President Obama's stimulus package inflates the budget deficit.

JAPAN — The Asahi Shimbun, (Feb. 20): With China continuing to post double-digit annual growth in its military spending, a key point for the Obama administration in its arms control efforts will be whether China's nuclear weapons can be brought into any arms control regime. … Clinton's statements also indicated that the Obama administration places high expectations on Japan's role in the development sector. …. Clinton said she would explore "opportunities for a trilateral dialogue" among Japan, the United States and China wherein the three countries would discuss policies on global issues of common concern, particularly with regard to environmental problems. Japan should undertake a diplomacy that encourages both the United States and China to actively engage in such a process.

PHILIPPINES — The Manila Times, (Feb. 20): Not since Dean Rusk in the 1960's (during the Vietnam War) has a new Secretary of State flown east rather than west on a first trip, notes The New York Times of Hillary Clinton's initial venture as the Obama Administration's Number One diplomat. … Where the United States has traditionally turned toward Europe, it must now look to Asia to soothe its foreign-policy anxieties. … A new "Big Three" is emerging. To replace the U.S., the Soviet Union and Great Britain of World War II, we have the United States, the European Union and China. ... Like Russia, the Islamic world is incoherent and embroiled in internal conflicts. India and Brazil are obvious players in future big-power games. But, right now, India is decades behind China in economic development and state efficiency.

Viewpoints articles are comprised of news items drawn from the international media.

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