Tag Archives: Hillary Rodham Clinton

U.S. Scholar Says Japan Should Be More 'Proactive'

It’s been a while; to any loyal readers, my apologies. Since Monday evening I’ve been in Japan traveling, the first time I’ve left China after moving there last July. Writing now on the train between a visit in southern Kyushu on my way to Hiroshima, I’ll save you my personal reflections. I did see something of interest, however, in today’s Japan Times. The paper carried a Kyodo story on a U.S. professor’s advice to Japan.

In brief, the story reports that Kent Calder, director of the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., urges that Japan be more “proactive” in its post-Bush relations with the United States. He also said that an Obama presidency may be more conducive to changes in Japan policy from the U.S. side than a Hillary Clinton or McCain administration.

The article leads with Calder’s comments on a concept called “Japan passing,” meaning essentially U.S. policy discussions going on without much discussion of this country. Indeed, as I wrote earlier, for example, China and Iraq are among the most talked-about countries in Clinton’s foreign policy, whereas Japan plays a small role. (Perhaps I will have time to compare that work with Obama and McCain.) The story may be using Calder’s statements to imply a general apathy in U.S. policy circles toward Japan, which I think isn’t true. Without knowing more about Calder’s work and statements, I can’t say what he thinks, but I do believe that economic and East Asian security concerns would prevent any U.S. government from ignoring Japan.

Calder said energy efficiency and environmental technology are strengths for Japan and might serve as a good way to increase its international influence. “Japan is the only major nation of the major energy producers whose consumption in the last three years or so has gone down,” Calder said.

Anecdotally, I see positive and negative forces at work in Japan on energy efficiency over the last few days. Mass transit is of course a strength here, and over two days in an area of Kyushu with fewer train options, I was glad to see light-engine automobiles either at parity with or outnumbering larger engines. Meanwhile the lack of good insulation in many regular Japanese residential and public buildings represents a huge opportunity for retrofitting to prevent energy waste as heating or cooling is lost through under-insulated walls. (As I write this, I am passing the most industrial and pollution-spewing vista I have encountered in Japan, off the shinkansen tracks near Tokuyama Station.)

I have taken an unanticipated break on this site because of an uptick in my paid workload: Sinobyte, my blog on Chinese technology and society for the CNET Blog Network, is now in its third month. I have also had work to do on some new consulting before what, barring any unforeseen changes, will be my return to the United States this fall for more academic work on East Asia. I am sure I will have more to say after my stay in Hiroshima, and most likely more to come after my return late this month to Beijing.

Hillary, in Toys Warning, Claims She 'Stood Up' to China in 1995

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton has added a level confrontation to her rhetoric on China, warning in a phone call with Iowa voters that toy and food imports from China could be a threat during the U.S. holiday season. “One of the things I don’t believe we should have to worry about is the safety of our food that is served for Thanksgiving or the toys that we buy our children for Christmas,” she said.

“I’ll improve the safety of children’s toys and stop dangerous toys from getting into our children’s hands by completely banning lead in children’s toys,” she said. 

“If China expects to do business with the United States, they’re going to have to meet higher standards.”

And if American companies think that they can get a cheaper deal by going to China, well, they’re got another thing coming, because they’re going to have to meet the same standards.”

Clinton also claimed experience confronting China, referring to her speech at the U.N. World Conference on Women as first lady in 1995. “I went to Beijing in 1995 and stood up to the Chinese government on human rights, women’s rights,” Clinton said.

Or did she? Here’s the portion of her speech that most directly addresses the Chinese government:

I believe that, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break our silence. It is time for us to say here in Bejing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights. […] 

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution. […]

Women must enjoy the right to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure.

It is indefensible that many women in nongovernmental organizations who wished to participate in this conference have not been able to attend — or have been prohibited from fully taking part.

Let me be clear. Freedom means the right of people to assemble, organize and debate openly. It means respecting the views of those who may disagree with the views of their governments. It means not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing they, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions. [emphasis mine]

The second to last paragraph refers to the fact that some members of NGOs were unable to attend the conference because of Chinese government objections. This does not seem to me to be a particularly strong statement, though it certainly would not have gone unnoticed by the diplomatic class.

Indeed, the remarks may have been carefully calibrated to make headlines without being especially disturbing to U.S.–China relations, which at the time were strained because of a visit to the U.S. by then President of Taiwan Lee Teng-hui. From The New York Times’ report on Sept. 6, 1995:

A senior Administration official traveling with Mrs. Clinton was at pains after the address to explain that it did not mark a return to a more vocal confrontation with China over its poor human rights record. In recent months, Washington has sought to tone down its public remarks on human rights abuses in favor of a more private dialogue that had few results.

“There is nothing in her speech that in any way deviates from our approach on China,” the official said, “or on our desire to get the relationship stabilized and to get some momentum going. This is a United Nations conference and she was speaking out on a global problem.”

At the time, the first lady told a press conference, “To me, it was important to express how I felt and to do so as clearly as I could.” I’d say the message could have been more clear, but clearly the message got to the Times.

ALSO: In my Googling on this issue I found that Adam Minter of Shanghai Scrap has picked up on this as well.

(h/t The China Game)

Hillary's China Focus, and a Lonely Japan?

Clinton says the U.S.-China relationship will be the world’s “most important bilateral.” What should Japan think?

The main candidates for U.S. president are all contributing essays on their foreign policy vision to Foreign Affairs, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (as well as Sen. John McCain) came up this issue. Tobias Harris, in an entry called “The Vanishing Ally,” notices that Clinton made a bold statement, putting the U.S. relationship with China at the top of her list of priorities.

“Our relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world in this century,” Clinton writes. She continues:

The United States and China have vastly different values and political systems, yet even though we disagree profoundly on issues ranging from trade to human rights, religious freedom, labor practices, and Tibet, there is much that the United States and China can and must accomplish together. China’s support was important in reaching a deal to disable North Korea’s nuclear facilities. We should build on this framework to establish a Northeast Asian security regime.

But China’s rise is also creating new challenges. The Chinese have finally begun to realize that their rapid economic growth is coming at a tremendous environmental price. The United States should undertake a joint program with China and Japan to develop new clean-energy sources, promote greater energy efficiency, and combat climate change. This program would be part of an overall energy policy that would require a dramatic reduction in U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

We must persuade China to join global institutions and support international rules by building on areas where our interests converge and working to narrow our differences. Although the United States must stand ready to challenge China when its conduct is at odds with U.S. vital interests, we should work for a cooperative future.

Dealing with China is just one of many issues Clinton’s essay lists as challenges for the next president (some others—two wars, Iran, “a resurgent Russia,” threats to Israel and oil supplies in the Middle East, climate change, and possible global epidemics). But consider this quick count of the most-mentioned countries. The count includes adjectival forms, so “China” and “Chinese” would both be counted.

Country Mentions
Iraq 33
Iran 15
China 13
Afghanistan 12
Russia 12
Israel 7
India 5
Sudan/Darfur 4
North Korea 3
Palestine* 3
Japan, Kosovo*, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Tibet* 2 each
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe 1 each
*These places or their descriptors are used separately from the states that claim to govern the territories. Also, Hamburg, Germany, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were each mentioned once.

(This counting exercise I admit can be a bit silly; it threatens to elevate a Foreign Affairs piece to the level of the State of the Union. But it can demonstrate just how high on the public agenda China has risen, at least in the mind of Clinton’s foreign policy writing.)

Regarding the statement that the U.S.–China relationship is the century’s most important, Tobias writes, “That may be disconcerting for Japan, used to hearing U.S. officials insist on the importance of the U.S.–Japan relationship, but it also happens to be true.” He adds later, “[T]he U.S.–Japan relationship could be an essential part of the U.S. approach to China, helping smooth China’s ascension to regional and global leadership (and hold China accountable). Senator Clinton hints at this—she mentions cooperation on clean energy—but no policymaker or presidential candidate has discussed a Sino–U.S.–Japanese triangle.”

Given that the Sino–Japanese–U.S. triangle was my blogging bailiwick for an entire year, I can confirm that, indeed, no one talks much about this. But I don’t go as far as Tobias when it comes to actually fearing the U.S. government under a new administration would forsake Japan. Japan remains essential to the United States as a security and economic partner. All sides of the triangle need both security and business relations to remain smooth throughout the trilateral. It may be the case the Clinton and her campaign simply decided against giving much space to reiterating the U.S. relationship with Japan in this particular essay. It looks to me from the table as if some countries were included in the essay as a political hat-tip (see especially the passage on Latin America, where the Bush administration is scolded for inattention but Clinton offers little other than a laundry list of nations).

My main message here is that this is a campaign document, not so much a policy proposal. It may have been a bit of a diplomatic gaffe not to give Japan a little more space, but I doubt the omission will have any adverse effect on the campaign. On the other hand, when China-related issues inevitably come up in force during the Olympics in August 2008, just three months before the general election, it will be key for candidates to have a record on China. Barring any unforeseen disasters, Japan will not likely be a major topic in U.S. media coverage leading up to the election.

Hillary Release Sets Up China–U.S. Competition

A press release from the Hillary Clinton campaign uses China as the primary “other” for the United States, a nation to which the United States should compare its progress.

An Oct. 10 press release outlining Clinton’s agenda on “Rebuilding the Road to the Middle Class” comes with several policy proposals and an attempt to frame the country’s economic challenges. And in the process of framing, China is set up as a main challenger for the United States, and a main point of comparison for U.S. development. Here, in full, is the section outlining “The Challenges”:

Other nations are increasingly investing in their innovation infrastructure, positioning themselves to challenge our leadership. In the last 12 years, China has doubled the percentage of GDP dedicated to R&D, and over that same period GDP itself doubled. Also, our share of the world’s scientists and engineers is declining, and too few American college students are preparing themselves for these careers. Fewer than 20% of American undergraduates are earning degrees in science or engineering, compared with more than 50% in China. Between 1970 and 2000, our global share of PhDs in science and engineering declined from 40% to 20%. And today, our global ranking in broadband has deteriorated to 25th.

Here, China is the primary “other” to which U.S. achievements are compared.

Later, in a section outlining a proposal for more education funding, China again is the only country named in comparison. “Education is the ultimate innovation prerequisite, but we are ceding ground to other nations,” the release states. “For example, 50% of undergraduates in China are earning degrees in science and engineering, but in America the rate is less than 20%. Our global share of PhDs in these fields has declined from 40% in 1970 to less than 20% today.”

Clinton’s rhetoric in this document compares the United States to China and to the world at large. But notably, no other country or political unit, not even the European Union, is mentioned by name. This is not an overt statement on China, but it tells us something about the way Hillary’s campaign views the rhetorical landscape: Among world powers, they apparently believe, the media and voters are concerned about China above all others.

Tomorrow, Clinton calls the U.S.–China relationship the world’s most important for the coming century, and Japan faces a demotion from the position of the United States’ most important Asian counterpart.

The U.S. Candidates on China I: Democrats

The Council on Foreign Relations has compiled a summary of what the candidates for U.S. president have to say about China, or really, what they’ve had to say—most statements are vague and many are a few months old. The CFR compilation only tracks more prominent statements on China. Statements not directly related to China, say releases accompanying Obama’s support for a Senate bill banning lead in products for children, don’t make it in.

Here’s a summary of the major points for the major candidates. I’m adding in some recent commentary and links via my Google Alerts and other feeds.

    Sen. Hillary Clinton (D–N.Y.)

  • Clinton’s most prominent statements on China came last March and included a few media appearances in which she called for the U.S. to reduce its dependency on Chinese lending. This came amidst a series of visits to China by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and a surge in media attention to the U.S.–China trade imbalance surrounding the Chinese stock scare that winter. CFR links to the same article that many other sources do when talking about Clinton and China. It’s the article that triggered my March 3 entry on this site.
  • Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama both said they would support punitive tariffs against China if it doesn’t revalue its currency. The National Interest cites this among the reasons the United States and China may be headed toward a trade war.
  • CFR also dug up a 2005 release on Clinton’s Senate website asking President George W. Bush to bring up human rights in talks with the Chinese government.
    Sen. John Edwards (formerly D-N.C.)

  • Edwards has kept quiet on China for quite a while. CFR notes the speech he made in 2006 at the Asia Society in which he declared the U.S.–China relationship his country’s most important bilateral relationship. The speech is something I never got around to writing about here, partly because the speech itself didn’t reveal much of interest. …
  • … But, in the Q&A, Edwards did have something interesting to say on the China–Darfur issue. In response to a question from Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, he said:

    I mean, the starting place is something that we’re not doing, which is to make it a priority – to make it a priority that the Chinese are propping up these governments and in the case of Sudan, allowing a genocide to continue. I think the first thing is we have to make it a priority in our relationship with China. And the Chinese have to know that it’s a priority.

    That’s something to watch as the issue festers leading up to the Olympics. File it under “stuff he said that someone will quote sometime”—especially if he gains in the polls.

    Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

  • Obama’s “neither our enemy nor our friend” statement is still the main enunciation of his view on U.S.–China relations. Instead, he said, the countries are “competitors.”
  • CFR notes Obama’s speech at my former haunt, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in which he said he’d “forge a more effective regional framework in Asia that will promote stability, prosperity and help us confront common transnational threats such as tracking down terrorists and responding to global health problems like avian flu.”

Next up: the Republicans.