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.)