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SECRETARY CLINTON IN ASIA
MAR 7, 2009 - 10:39PM PST
by Lorena M. Sanchez
Summary: Secretary Clinton's trip to Asia highlighted the importance of confidence-building measures and symbolism in traditional state-to-state diplomacy, but also reflected the distinctive style of the Obama administration. From the announcement of the trip’s destination to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and China, local and international coverage examined its global significance, mainly the decision not to head first to Europe or the Middle East, the more traditional route. The Economist noted that Secretary Clinton followed Dean Rusk’s lead from 1961, making her only the second American Secretary of State to choose Asia for their first foreign trip. Each port of call appeared to represent clear U.S. priorities. Media coverage speculated that Japan was chosen to demonstrate U.S. appreciation for the long-existing – though seemingly forgotten, U.S.-Japan alliance. A stop in Indonesia was seen as showing a desire to engage with the Muslim world and to reconnect with ASEAN. Visiting South Korea was seen as a nod to an important trading partner and growing regional power. Finally, the China trip was understood as a reflection of the U.S. belief that cooperating with the Asian giant is the key to easing many world problems, including security challenges from North Korea and Iran. Those Asian countries excluded from Secretary Clinton’s trip, such as Taiwan and the Philippines, noted their disappointment but expressed guarded optimism about prospects of a future visit. The consensus among most, however, was that the trip represented a reorientation and shift away from the Bush administration’s policy towards the region. The Los Angeles Times heralded the maiden voyage, calling Clinton's trip “an appreciation of Asia's diplomatic culture, which values face-time and presence, and will be crucial to fostering a more balanced U.S. foreign policy.” Not surprisingly, coverage of Clinton’s remarks in China emphasized her attention to the global economic crisis and the need to address climate change. Clinton's focus on climate change was depicted as part of a broader administration effort to persuade China to join the United States’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RTÉ noted that despite Clinton’s anti-China rhetoric during the democratic primaries, she managed to reframe U.S.-Sino relations saying, “Some believe that China on the rise is, by definition, an adversary…On the contrary we believe that the U.S. and China can benefit and contribute to each other’s successes.” It was noted in The Wall Street Journal that Clinton also took a different tack on the question of human rights compared with her stance during the primaries, emphasizing that a discussion about human rights would not derail other important discussions. A San Francisco Chronicle op-ed compared China’s largesse in the region to the U.S.’s less reliable presence, noting in particular that U.S. aid was tied to conditions whereas China’s was not. This so-called “charm offensive” has enabled China to gain political capital among regional allies. Kishore Mahbubani, writing in the Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates), also addressed this problem, emphasizing the need for a long-term strategic thinking; a recommendation echoed by may public diplomacy advocates in the U.S.…... FULL TEXT
Secretary Clinton in Asia - Local
Clinton Trip Puts Asia Back on US agenda
(International Relations Articles Blog, 19 Feb 2009)
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visiting Asia this week, she will fundamentally and profoundly change the trajectory of US foreign policy...Clinton's decision to go to Asia for her first overseas trip underscores the growing geopolitical significance of the region and a strong desire to re-balance American engagement.
The Global Listening Tour
(The Washington Post, 20 Feb 2009)
Everywhere she has gone in Asia, Clinton has tried to highlight some of the tangible ways that the Obama administration hopes to be different from its predecessor: a commitment to address climate change, the appointment of a Middle East peace envoy, a refocusing on Afghanistan and an effort to reach out to longtime U.S. antagonists such as Iran, North Korea and Burma.
Clinton Campaigns to Mend U.S. Image, Connect With Asian Public
(Bloomberg, 21 Feb 2009)
In her first trip as President Barack Obama’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Clinton has taken her talents as a politician and her personal celebrity to East Asia, stumping to rehabilitate a view of America battered by widespread disapproval of former President George W. Bush’s foreign policy...Clinton’s trip has been heavy on a message for ordinary people: The door is open and the U.S. is ready to listen.
Clinton, in Tokyo, Warns N. Korea on Missile Launch
(The Washington Post, 17 Feb 2009)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned North Korea not to conduct a missile launch, saying that it "would be very unhelpful" to any opportunity to improve relations with the United States.
Clinton: Nobody Knows Whether North Korea Had Uranium Program
(Fox News, 20 Feb 2009)
Clinton said she's certain the regime in North Korea would try to produce the substance if it could to further its "nuclear ambition," but that the U.S. does not have solid evidence that any program exists or ever existed...One of Clinton's chief aims this week is to reinvigorate the stalled Six-Party talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear programs.
Clinton Arrives In Jakarta; Criticizes Myanmar's Military Junta
(AHN, 18 Feb 2009)
On the second stop of her maiden overseas trip as the top U.S. diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Indonesia on Wednesday and criticized the military dictatorship of Myanmar, also known as Burma.
India needs a lot more love from Obama
(Foreign Policy, 20 Feb 2009)
Secretary Clinton deserves enormous credit for making her inaugural official trip to Asia. But the original Policy Planning Staff transition memo suggesting such a visit included India along with Japan, South Korea, China, and Indonesia in its recommended itinerary. What happened? No senior U.S. official can go everywhere, especially across the vast expanse of Eurasia. But skipping New Delhi only reinforced an Indian perception of U.S. coolness.
The Obama Team Hits the Road in Fresh Directions
(The San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Feb 2009)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decision to head west instead of east for her get-acquainted trip as America's top diplomat is rich with symbolism...Clinton is visiting Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China. Or, in other words, not Europe. First impressions count, and the new administration is saying this is where the action is for trade, consequential political friction and sustaining alliances.
Hillary's Road Trip
(The Atlantic, 13 Feb 2009)
A measure of the new administration’s realization of the importance and nuances of Asia is demonstrated by Clinton’s decision to add Indonesia to the itinerary...It commands the narrow Strait of Malacca, which is the world’s energy highway, where supertankers transport Middle Eastern oil to the burgeoning middle class fleshpots of the Pacific Rim. Thailand – Southeast Asia’s former political linchpin – is polarized and increasingly unstable, and Malaysia and Singapore are facing their own difficult political transitions, but Indonesia seems to be on its way to becoming an authentically stable Muslim democracy.
Secretary Clinton's Asia Trip: Allied Reassurance
(The Heritage Foundation, 13 Feb 2009)
Clinton must reassure allies disturbed by Bush Administration's abandonment of important principles in its zeal to achieve North Korean denuclearization. Additionally, she should more clearly articulate the Obama Administration's six-party talks strategy and its position on the U.S.--South Korea free trade agreement.
Clinton Packs Full Asia Agenda for First Trip as Secretary of State
(The Washington Post, 7 Feb 2009)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Asia on her first voyage as chief diplomat, skipping the more traditional itinerary of Europe or the Middle East...Clinton's focus on climate change appears to be part of a broader administration effort to try to persuade China to join with the United States in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In First Trip, Clinton Brings Different Style to Diplomacy
(McClatchy Newspapers, 23 Feb 2009)
In her first overseas trip, a weeklong tour through Asia, Clinton rewrote the rulebook, employing gravitas with foreign leaders but leading a free-wheeling, campaign-like effort to mend what she says is a tattered U.S. image, prod people into saving energy and serve as empowerment coach for women around the globe.
Clinton stops at Yokota
(Stars and Stripes, 23 Feb 2009)
Clinton recapped her whirlwind trip to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China, saying she hoped to "represent our values, ideals and interests" as she met with key leaders in each country...She called Japan-based troops the "first lines of defense" in the Asia-Pacific region and said America can only be strengthened by cooperation between the state and defense departments.
Secretary of State Has Her Own Style
(The Washington Post, 23 Feb 2009)
Clinton's willingness to speak frankly -- combined with an extensive effort to get beyond ministerial meetings in order to hold town hall meetings and conduct local TV interviews in the countries she visits -- suggests she will put a distinctive personal stamp on the Obama administration's foreign policy.
Clinton Tells China Economy Is Priority
(The Wall Street Journal, 23 Feb 2009)
Secretary Clinton concluded her first diplomatic mission to China, where she laid out a vision for U.S. relations with Beijing that prioritizes cooperation on the financial crisis and global warming while playing down disagreements over human rights..."by continuing to support American Treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. We are truly going to rise or fall together," said Clinton.
Clinton urges China to sustain U.S. economic support
(Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb 2009)
Clinton urged Beijing to keep buying U.S. government bonds despite their declining value. And she defended the Obama administration's stimulus spending package, saying the added debt load, though "drastic," would benefit China...Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his government would continue to buy the bonds if they continued to offer the best combination of value, low risk and liquidity.
Clinton, Chinese Add Environmental and Security Issues to Economic Talks
(Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb 2009)
Clinton has been eager to expand discussions between the two countries, believing U.S. cooperation with the Asian giant is key to easing many world problems, including security challenges from North Korea and Iran.
Working Toward Change in Perceptions of U.S. Engagement Around the World
(U.S. Department of State, 21 Feb 2009)
Roundtable with traveling press in Seoul, South Korea.
Clinton Takes Diplomacy to the People
(China View, 23 Feb 2009)
Apart from singing on a television show in Indonesia, she also chatted with Japanese students during a visit to Tokyo University last Tuesday, with topics ranging from her conversation with the Japanese empress to baseball and robots. "This is what diplomacy is about," Clinton said. "It doesn't just operate government to government. It operates people to people." Furthering public diplomacy and meeting ordinary people was a "key part" of Clinton's tour, explained Professor Pang Zhongying, of Renmin University of China. Pang, who described Clinton's approach as post-modern, added: "Diplomacy has extended far beyond state level. Today, statesmen need to go public."
Diplomacy: Keep the Engine Running
(San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Mar 2009)
From Borneo to Burma, it is China, not America, that Southeast Asian nations now look to whenever they need to build a bridge, a dam, a hospital or have another problem they cannot easily resolve...the United States also provides many millions of dollars of aid... But there's a difference. American aid comes with numerous strings attached.
China Is at the Heart of Clinton's First Trip
(The Washington Post, 15 Feb 2009)
Clinton and other Obama administration officials have made it clear that they want to move dramatically forward in relations with Beijing, finding new avenues for cooperation between the world's biggest economy and the world's fastest-growing economy, especially on climate change and the environment.
Secretary Clinton in Asia - International
Hillary Says Hello to Asia
(The Economist, 19 Feb 2009)
Hillary Clinton’s decision to start her travels with a tour to Tokyo, Jakarta, Beijing and Seoul surprised even her hosts. The message seems to be that war elsewhere and economic turmoil may be the current preoccupations, but America’s future environment will be shaped in Asia.
Secretary Clinton's Visit Boosts RI's Soft Power
(The Jakarta Post, 19 Feb 2009)
Although it is not by design, Clinton's visit [to Indonesia] can be seen as a tacit support for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla before the elections as the two need international recognition of their role in consolidating and stabilizing Indonesia's democracy over the last five years.
High Marks for Hillary in Asia
(The Korea Times, 19 Feb 2009)
So far in Asia, Secretary Clinton is demonstrating she has done serious homework, is well briefed and articulate. Japan as the initial destination reflects a solid sense of history. In an era of global interdependence and integration of societies as well as economies, a very smart domestic politician may provide very effective leadership of American foreign policy.
Clinton calls Rudd During Asia Trip
(The Sidney Morning Herald, 23 Feb 2009)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken time out during her trip to Asia to ring Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd...The pair spoke about the global financial crisis and the role of the G20, which next meets in London in April, in developing a response to the economic turmoil.
Clinton Stresses Women’s Role
(The Korea Times, 21 Feb 2009)
Clinton said she has a strong will to improve women's rights since they are more than just morality-related issues. "No country has yet achieved full equality for women. There is still a lot ahead for us to make sure that gender equality becomes reality," she said. "Part of my mission as the secretary of state is (making sure) the United States is committed to enhancing the rights of women."
To Obama, RP No Longer a Key US Ally
(Inquirer, 24 Feb 2009)
As Clinton visited Asia, signals flared in the Philippines to remind her that its historic and strategic relations with the United States were being badly frayed...The traditional political and security ties we had with the United States have been dissolved by the global recession and the new alliances being hammered out by the United States under a new international balance of power. The Philippines must seek new diplomatic leverages to find its place in this emerging power balance.
Hillary Clinton: diplomat, politician or advice columnist?
(Reuters, 23 Feb 2009)
The former first lady tried to show that the United States can be a force for good in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, by taking a walk through a modest Jakarta neighborhood where Washington funds development projects..."This, to me, is what diplomacy is about," she later said. "It doesn't just operate ... government to government. It operates people to people."
Clinton Wraps Up first Asian Trip
(BBC News, 23 Feb 2009)
The secretary of state ended her official engagements by taking part in a web chat with the China Daily - the Chinese government's main English-language newspaper.
Clinton Wraps Asia Trip by Asking China to Buy US debt
(Agence France Presse, 23 Feb 2009)
Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi largely agreed to disagree on human rights as they pledged future joint action on the economy and climate change.
Clinton In Japan
(Voice of America, 20 Feb 2009)
Secretary Clinton and Japan's Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone emphasized the importance of maintaining the strength of the U.S.-Japan security alliance. To that end, Secretary Clinton signed the Guam International Agreement, which will move eight-thousand American troops from Okinawa to Guam.
The Power of Three
(The Times of India, 27 Feb 2009)
Like Americans themselves, outsiders have to learn to adjust expectations downwards of what Washington can deliver in today's more chaotic and less controllable world without one dominant superpower.
'Selling' America to the World
(BBC News, 26 Feb 2009)
Secretary Clinton said her role was not just about repairing relations with governments around the world but also to talk to people, to try to influence their view of America by meeting Japanese students or chatting to Indonesians about the clean water and health care projects the US was funding in their country.
Focus on Asia as Clinton Starts Work
(RTÉ, 24 Feb 2009)
Mrs Clinton's trip to Beijing may not produce immediate results - but its symbolism won't be lost on the Chinese.
Clinton’s Asia Trip Shows Priorities
(Taipei Times, 4 Mar 2009)
The centerpiece of Clinton’s approach seemed to be to avoid airing controversial issues in public and to focus on the overarching themes of climate change and the global economic crisis. Her tone was soft.
Watching and Waiting for Hillary
(Taipei Times, 5 Mar 2009)
Clinton made it clear that Taiwan, along with Tibet and China’s human rights violations generally, would be lost in the shuffle as she and Chinese leaders talked about other things.
What Hillary Failed to Do in Asia
(Khaleej Times, 6 Mar 2009)
So what should America’s long-term strategy toward China look like? To start, Washington should revisit its assumptions...What Clinton still needs to work out is a big-picture view of the world’s largest nation. If she fails to think strategically, the result will be an even stronger China. If she succeeds, China may turn out just as strong-but become a much more cooperative and restrained partner.
US Finger on the Pulse
(Asia Times, 4 Mar 2009)
Secretary Clinton wants to intensify her engagement in the entire region, including ASEAN. The theme of her trip [to Asia] was that Asia is an indispensable partner, and we want to affirm and echo that in ASEAN.
A Promising Approach to US-Asian Relations
(Taiwan News, 3 Mar 2009)
Both showmanship and substance were on display during Clinton's tour. The showmanship was essential to underscore that a different approach is in effect...In fact, her statements went to the heart of the creative engagement that is necessary for the United States to continue to lead in Asia.
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