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Clinton Calls Chinese Crackdown a 'Fool's Errand'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens as China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan delivers closing remarks during the 2011 US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says China's effort to hold off the kind of democratic changes that are sweeping the Middle East is a "fool's errand" that is doomed to failure.

The remark came in an interview with The Atlantic magazine that was posted on the Internet Tuesday as she and other U.S. officials met senior Chinese officials in Washington.

In the interview, Clinton was asked whether Chinese officials are frightened by the popular uprisings in the Middle East.

Clinton replied that the Chinese "are worried, and they are trying to stop history," which she said "is a fool's errand (hopeless cause)."

Clinton added that the Chinese cannot stop democratic reform, "but they are going to hold it off as long as possible."

She also said the United States would not walk away from dealing with China because it has what she called "a deplorable human rights record."