Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: Book Analysis. Chapter 5. BEIJING: THE DISSIDENT. The Hard Choice: Humanitarian Acts vs. Real Politik.


Cui Tiankai

Cui Tiankai

On April 25th Hillary got a call that the blind activist, Chen Guangchen (for Chen’s take on this read.) had escaped home confinement in his native province of Shandung. Further he had journeyed to Beijing with the help of sympathizers in hopes of gaining refuge in the American Embassy.  Chen was known throughout China as the blind, barefoot lawyer who advocated for human rights.  He was self taught and whose most recent endeavor was to file a class action law suit in behalf of people victimized by government repression for forced abortions, forced sterilization and enforcement of the one child policy by economic and other means. The Chinese government reacted to this by sentencing him to jail and later home confinement. He was a cause célèbre  in China.  Now he was seeking asylum in the Embassy.

This request was made at a time when he was on the run from the police with a broken foot and  in hiding somewhere in Beijing outside the Embassy.

How the Chinese government would react to a grant of asylum to a humanitarian hero was unknown.

This was compounded by the fact the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue was scheduled with Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, Hillary and their Chinese   opposites for the discussion of the problems of the Islands in the South China Sea, North Korea and other issues including economic ones  like  intellectual property protection and currency values.  Many months of planning and preparation had gone into the forthcoming discussions.

If the U.S. extended asylum to Chen how would the Chinese react? They could cancel the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Hillary decided to give Chen asylum and to negotiate his fate with the Chinese authorities. Negotiations were tense as the U.S. had often criticized China over human rights to their chagrin and this case could only bring matters to a boiling   point. The Chinese viewed the U.S. as meddling in China’s internal affairs over these issues and they were not matters for discussion by outsiders.

However Chen was well known both inside China and to the World so whatever happened to Chen would get worldwide publicity. Therefore the Chinese were willing to negotiate even after we gave asylum to a man who was an escaped criminal in their eyes.

Chen himself was conflicted as to what he wanted to do. At first the principal Chinese  negotiator Cui Tiankai agreed that Chen would be allowed to study law in Shanghai for two years and then travel to the U.S. to study at NYU on a fellowship.   However Chen first agreed to this resolution and then changed his mind saying he wanted to come to the U.S. right away fearing the Chinese government would renege of the agreement once the world spotlight was turned off.

Hillary and her aides renegotiated the terms to the bemused Cui Tiankai. The  Chinese authorities permitted Chen to come directly  the United States to study at NYU.

The agreement was reached without jeopardizing the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Hillary believes she struck a blow for human rights while saving the conference on major U.S. interests.

The Chinese probably saw it as a way to rid themselves of a sympathetic and troublesome dissident who had the ability to draw World attention to their internal policies.

While it is always good to standup for humanitarian principles the interests of the United States and its people should come first. Thus the strategic and economic interests of the U.S. should have been paramount in this case because they affect millions of people.

Hillary was able along with her subordinates to skillfully and adroitly solve the humanitarian issue without scuttling the Strategic and Economic  Dialogue. Whether this incident colored the discussions she doesn’t say other than in a cursory manner to state  that much progress was made without going into specifics.

She says that the United State’s policy is to create a state of shared prosperity and responsibility with China for peace and security and the only way to do this is though greater openness and freedom.  Internal issues like  the  treatment of Tibet, the Uighur Muslims, internet freedom, the suppression of activists like Chen  are counter to humanitarian principles  and China should deal with them in a transparent manner respectful to the rights of the entities and people involved. Internationally it should work though international institutions to solve problems and conflicts like those in the South China Sea.

At present  Chen  is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute which opposes abortion and gay marriage. Cui Tiankai is the Chinese Ambassador to the United States and Hillary is denying she is running for President.


Hillary Clinton: Hard Choices: Book Analysis. Chapter 4: Uncharted Waters. Hillary One Ups China.



Hillary With Sate Counselor Dai


Americans have been to China many times since Nixon and Kissinger went there in 1972 to open relations. Hilary and Bill were students at the time and rented a portable television with rabbit ears to watch the ceremonies. Zhou Enlai and Kissinger negotiated the ground rules

for the two leaders, Nixon and Mao Zedong, to meet.

Since then there have been many diplomatic trips to China including Hillary’s trip in 1995 for the Fourth World Conference on Woman where she spoke as First Lady of the United States. Her speech on the rights of women was censored by the Chinese government by blocking it from broadcast in China.

In June of 1998 she returned to China with her husband who was President at the time. It was an official state visit and Bill Clinton gave a speech on human rights. This after the “incident ” at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Incident is her word probably for diplomatic reasons as the Chinese will read this book closely particularly if she becomes a declared presidential candidate.

Hillary never misses an opportunity to remind us that she is a strong advocate for human rights and in particular women’s rights. We all know this and it will certainly seal the liberal vote in her favor if she runs for president but there are a lot of others out there that are not quite as liberal as her who don’t like her in your face demeanor on these issues whose vote she will need in 2016.Hillary doesn’t seem to remember the old saying “softly, softly catchee monkey.”

Maybe it would be better if she modeled herself on other woman leaders like Angelika Merkel or even Margaret Thatcher, a conservative, who are and were strong effective women because they focused on the politics at hand that affected the entire electorate and not solely on one noble issue that will turn a lot of voters off who believe most people  in the United States are doing well, even if the last recession left many scars we seem to be coming out of  the debacle created by Congress and Wall Street.  

She returned to China as Secretary of State in 2009 with the goal of building a relationship that could withstand the stress points that will and have developed between our two countries as China emerges as a World power.  

She also wanted to engage China and have them work within the multilateral institutions in the area and internationally and encourage China to work within the rules of these organizations in ironing out their differences with other countries.  

She met with her counterparts in the Chinese hierarchy, State Counselor Dai Bingguo and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Their relations were cordial and they sometimes spoke earnestly about their lives and other matters.

However things were different with President Hu and Premiere Wen who were formal in dealing with her and they avoided any frank discussions leaving human rights (Tibet i.e.) and woman’s rights discussions for their subordinates. They also refused to talk about economic, military or diplomatic issues with her except in a formal and general sense

 At the ASEAN conference in Hanoi on July 22, 2010(ASEAN, a political and economic organization consisting  of ten countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar  and Vietnam.) both China and the U.S Attended.

The ASEAN delegates wanted the territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea discussed on a multiparty basis. China on the other hand wanted to deal with the disputes one to one which would give China the stronger hand. 

Hillary and her team supported the multilateral approach to solving these problems. She gave a speech on this issue and the vote of the delegates went in favor of a multilateral approach much to the chagrin of the Chinese.

Foreign Minister Yang according to Hillary was “livid” over the vote and State Counselor Dai was so upset he suggested that the U.S should “pivot out of here.”

Thus this part of her goal may or may not have encouraged China to work within existing organizations to resolve differences.

The term Uncharted Waters in the chapter title apparently refers to the disputes about the islands in the South China Sea and the territorial waters around them which may be rich in minerals namely oil and gas.

However it also has a larger meaning as to how China will develop either as a quasi rogue nation like Russia  or a member of the alliance of democratic and industrialized nations that work their problems out through established institutions like the World Trade Organization or ASEAN.


(Hillary in Iowa addressing democratic activists at Tom Harkin event 9/14/14.)




Hillary Clinton; Hard Choices: Book Analysis. Chapter 3. ASIA: THE PIVOT? Too Soon, Or a Prescient Move?

The Obama Administration decided that American Foreign Policy need to be more focused on Asia where half the World’s population lived. With this in mind Hillary’s first trip was to Asia to show the region it was to be a priority with the new administration, militarily, diplomatically and economically.

Hillary Visits South Korea On First Foreign Tour Of Her Appointment As Secretary Of State

Hillary Visits South Korea On First Foreign Tour Of Her Appointment As Secretary Of State

The purpose of her trip, had three goals, visit Japan, South Korea and strengthen and confirm our alliance with them; reach out to Indonesia, a Muslim democracy, an emerging regional power and the home of ASEAN  a political and economic organization consisting  of ten countries ,  Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar  and Vietnam.  Its goals include regional economic viability, regional peace, social progress and a forum for members to come together to discuss problems; the third goal was to engage China diplomatically and have sufficient military power to back up our position.

Hillary made more trips to Asia for the purpose of advancing Democratic ideals and our power in the area. One was her trip to Myanmar. A closed country beginning  to open up. She met Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest for decades before reforms allowed her to be released and run  for office. She is now a Member of Parliament. Perhaps Myanmar will fall into our camp and not be a satellite of China.

North Korea remained a problem not just for the region but also the rest of the world with its nuclear and missile program. Things seem to have become worse under Kim Jong Un.

Vietnam is another communist country to watch. It may  adopt a market economy like China. Hillary believes a dictatorship and a free economy cannot exist side by side indefinitely and the dictatorship will either yield to democratic reforms or have to tighten control of the economic life of its citizens. That is the great experiment we are witnessing now in China.

The Pivot to Asia has been criticized by our Allies in Europe as too strong a word and suggest we are refocusing on Asia to the detriment of Europe and the Middle East.

Since leaving office Hillary has stated she was a strong advocate for use of force by proxies in Syria. The failure to do so has led to the current situation where ISIS has gained control over territory in Syria and Iraq and is calling itself an Islamic Caliphate.

She also sought to cement ties with India a great democracy nearly equal to China in population which has been abandoning its socialist economy for a more free market economy. Therefore it will be an example for China, if it not has been already, that a free market economy exists best with a democracy. However the Indian economy is not nearly as robust as the Chinese’s economy.

The Pivot to Asia diplomatically and militarily has refocused American attention to the region. However the Obama mission to withdraw from the Mideast has back fired with the rise of ISIS which will call for greater American resources to be expended to counter its expansion.

The purpose of the Pivot policy seems to be that Asia would be on an equal footing with Europe diplomatically and militarily. The fruits of this policy have yet to be seen. China is getting stronger militarily; it is acquiring at least one aircraft carrier, an offensive weapon, and seeks to assert itself in island disputes with Japan and Vietnam. Whether the U.S. can broker a resolution over these disputes remains to be seen.

It also has not seen fit to deal with Kim Long Un with a strong hand. A lot of time and energy was spent in the East while the administration’s most immediate problem was in the Mideast which Obama thought he could withdraw from and allow it to become the sleepy backwater it once was. This was a true failure of diplomatic and military policy. Perhaps the pivot policy will prevent a crisis like that in the Mideast before they get started. Some great thinker once said ”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Wonder where he has been. Maybe it has been Hillary constrained to follow the policies set by the Administration beyond her control