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 U.S.-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.
Jiang says China sees this as an important high-level exchange between the two countries.
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 essential.
"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
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.
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 says 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.
Schell, the director of the Asia Society's Center on U.S.-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.
He says this does not mean that other issues - such as trade disputes and human rights differences - are not important.
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.
main part will be climate change and energy cooperation, the financial
crisis - this kind of more important things, more urgent things," the
Sun says he thinks Secretary Clinton will mention human rights insome of her talks, to "express some American values."
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.