On June 13, 2015 American presidential election candidate Hillary Clinton held her first major campaign rally in New York, taking the first important step toward her goal of becoming the first female president of the United States. If she is elected as “the youngest female president”, what will be her policy toward China? And what will be her position toward the “Tibet issue”?
According to reports from uschinapress.com, Hilary Clinton’s policies on China were once very tough. When she attended the World Conference on Women held in Beijing as the First Lady of the United States in 1995, she lashed out against China’s human rights record. After she became senator later, she repeatedly criticized China on human rights, and even called on then-President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.
In February 2009, Hillary stated that the United States would support policies that would improve the human rights situation in Tibet. She said she hoped Tibetans and all Chinese people could enjoy religious freedom “without fear of being prosecuted”. On Feb.18, 2010, despite a strong opposition from China, the U.S. organized for Obama and Hillary to meet with the Dalai Lama.
In January 2011, Hillary wrote in A Broad Vision of U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century that human rights “remain at the heart of American diplomacy”: “We urge China to protect the rights of minorities in Tibet; the rights of all people to express themselves and worship freely; and the rights of civil society and religious organizations to advocate their positions within a framework of the rule of law.”
However, if Hillary is elected, would her policies on China, and especially on the “Tibet issue” continue to be so tough?
According to the Global Times, Li Haidong, professor of the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University said that while she was secretary of state, Hillary assumed a tough attitude on many issues concerning China. “In this regard we should remain cautious, but ultimately she must return to the trend of pragmatic cooperation on China policy. Economic, social, and cultural integration between the U.S. and China as well as the degree of contact at the political level are all quite high. Even if Hillary assumes office of presidency, the overall framework of stable the China-U.S. relations will not change.”
In reality, Hillary’s attitudes toward China are always changeable. According to Xinhua reports, February 2009 was the first time when she visited China after becoming secretary of state. After she arrived in Beijing, she said, “I hope human rights and the issues of Taiwan and Tibet will not hinder us to resolve other issues.” She added that during her visit she would not focus on issues like human rights and Tibet, since it could undermine the efforts to tackle global financial crisis. Time magazine says that human rights have always been a source of friction between the U.S. and China, but Hillary has been avoiding such topics to affect the China-U.S. relations. “The U.S. is preparing to strengthen its cooperation with China, and the issue of human rights is being relegated to a minor position.”
Hillary has also said on many occasions that she attaches great importance to the China-U.S. relations. In 2011, in the same article of A Broad Vision of U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century , she said, “some in China worry that the United States is bent on containing China's rise and constraining China's growth.We reject those views.” “We intend to pursue a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China”.
In 2013, Hillary repeatedly said in an article published in Foreign Policy magazine, that she advocates a policy of positive engagement with China. She said that although the values and political systems of China and the U.S. are very different, and they have deep disagreements on certain issues, there is still a large space for cooperation between the two countries.
According to China News Service, when Hillary elaborated on the “Hillary’s foreign policy” in June 2014, she pointed out that Sino-U.S. dialogue should be expanded, and she hoped to develop personal relations with Chinese leaders.
Analysts say that, if Hillary Clinton is elected, the American foreign policy would more or less turn to a “smart power”, which means that the U.S. will choose the best combination of diplomatic, economic, military, political, technical, and cultural tools in any situation. And Hillary would probably adopt a firmer and shrewder strategy toward China.