Dissidents Are Held Back as Clinton Holds Forth in China
Posted on Feb 21, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this weekend made her first visit to China in her new role, but Amnesty International and other activist groups didn’t like her position when it came to addressing China’s treatment of dissidents—more specifically, she didn’t take a firm stand on the issue during her meetings with Chinese officials.
As foreign minister Yang Jiechi welcomed her with a broad smile, he observed that it was “a bit chilly” in Beijing but promised Clinton she would see “the biggest number of smiling faces”.
Yang told the British press last year that Chinese police would “offer a cup of tea” to any protesters at the Beijing Olympics, yet dozens of Chinese were jailed for trying to protest.
Clinton told a joint news conference that the two would have “frank discussions” on human rights, Tibet, religious freedom and freedom of expression. She thanked China for continuing to invest in US government debt. Yang responded that China would allocate its $20 trillion of foreign currency reserves as it saw fit.
Outside in the snow, security agents in Beijing surrounded the homes of writers and thinkers behind Charter 08, the boldest public petition for Chinese freedom in 20 years. Some contacted reporters by text message to say they could not go out.
AP photo / Greg Baker, Pool
Madame Secretary: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is greeted by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing on Saturday.