Dragon TV Interview: Developing a Comprehensive, Integrated Dialogue With China

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
Interview With Yang Lan of Dragon TV
Beijing, China
February 22, 2009

MS. YANG: But this is a beautiful Embassy.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Isn't it? I am so proud and impressed by it. It took a long time to build, but it is very beautiful and very functional. And the architecture is Chinese-inspired, so it's really a wonderful addition to our embassy community.

MS. YANG: And so you are going back today, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I have to go back today.

MS. YANG: And just in time to celebrate your daughter's 29th birthday.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That's true. She will be 29 on Friday. And I am very much looking forward to seeing her for a birthday dinner.

MS. YANG: Okay. So what kind of path do you like to see her take? I know she has been studying health policy and management at Columbia.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That's right. I think she is someone who charts her own path, and I am very impressed and delighted at the choices that she has made. I just, like most mothers, want her to be happy and have a good life. And that is really all I wish for her.

MS. YANG: Does she resemble you in the ways that she does things?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think she is a good combination of both her father and me. She has a very wonderful personality, and she is a hard worker, and she is a good friend and a caring person. So I am just very happy to be her mother.

MS. YANG: I know you have just had a dialogue with the Chinese women. Some of them you have known for 11 years. Well, to the younger generation of women, like your daughters, what kind of advice would you like to give to those who aspire to succeed and lead, but could be afraid of failure?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that's a good way of phrasing the question, because I think that overcoming your fears, whether you're a young woman or a young man, to be willing to take a risk, to try something different, to follow your heart, to pursue your dreams, takes a certain level of courage.

And I just try to tell young people who ask me all the time what I think about the best way forward is to be true to themselves, you know, to listen to their own heart, to do what gives them joy in life, and meaning in their public and professional careers. And I think if you do that, you may change, you may take a different path. But if you can keep focused on what you believe is important, I think that's the best way to proceed.

MS. YANG: Let's get back to this trip. In your testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you suggested that U.S. should use smart power to handle international issues. How is that approach, or strategy, reflected in your Asian trip, especially your trip to China?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is our goal in the Obama administration to reach out to the rest of the world using every tool at our disposal. I like to talk about the three D's of our foreign policy: defense, diplomacy, development.

We want to emphasize, particularly, diplomacy and development. And what I have tried to do in the month that I have had this position is to make clear that we will represent and defend the interests and the security and the values of the United States, but we want to listen.

We are different countries and different cultures. China and the United States have very different histories. And we need to understand each other better so that we can find more common ground. And I was encouraged by my talks with your leadership, that there are a number of areas we can work on together.

We are constructing, and have agreed, in principle, to a strategic and economic dialogue that will not only include the economic crisis, which is very important, that China and America lead on a recovery, globally, but clean energy and climate change, and more educational exchanges, and people-to-people exchanges, more work on health care, medicine, science.

I want to deepen and broaden the connections, not only between government officials, as important at that is, but between all kinds of Chinese and Americans.

MS. YANG: You know, former Treasury Secretary Paulson used to champion the U.S.-Sino dialogue in the structure of the Strategic Economic Dialogue. Have you convinced President Obama to let the State Department take back the reigns? And, if so, what kind of new framework of dialogue are we talking about?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are going to have a comprehensive, integrated dialogue. It will be co-chaired by myself and the Treasury Secretary, because I think there was an awareness that our prior engagement at the dialogue level, government-to-government, was very heavily dominated by economic concerns, and by traditional Treasury priorities. They are very important but that is not the only high-level dialogue that needs to occur.

So, we have always had a lot of interaction at many levels of our governments. But what we want to do is to integrate those, and to have our two Presidents, when they meet at the G-20 summit in April, announce the mechanism that we will be pursuing now.

MS. YANG: Have you found the terminology to define the relationship between our two countries? Because under your husband's administration we called it "constructive strategic partnership," and then, in the Bush administration we called it "stakeholders." Have you found the new words yet?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I'm not as interested in the words as in the actions. I think that we have evolved dramatically in our relationship over the 30 years that we have had diplomatic relations. China has grown just exponentially in a way that is a real tribute to the people of China.

But what we now need to do is demonstrate that the United States and China can work productively together, not only on those issues that we have bilateral concerns over, but to show leadership to the rest of the world.

If you just take two major issues confronting the world, I don't think it's realistic to expect that we will see global recovery without Chinese and American cooperation and leadership. I know that it is not realistic to expect that we can deal with global climate change without the United States and China working together.

So, what we are talking about is very concrete and specific. It is not so much the description, as the reality and the content of what we will do together that we're focusing on.

MS. YANG: Okay. You quoted Chinese story, (speaks Chinese), which means, "We are in the same boat" to tackle economic crisis.


MS. YANG: Yet, at the same time, the "Buy American" rhetoric triggered another round of fear of protectionism. How would the U.S. government reconcile the international responsibility with the demand of domestic constituencies?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, President Obama was very quick to act, and to make clear that we are not going to engage in protectionism. And, with respect to the provision that was in the stimulus package, it must be compliant with our international agreements.

We know that a round of protectionism is not in America's interests. It's important that we work with countries like China, and others, to establish a framework for renewed economic growth and prosperity.

Now, we also have work to do at home. Not only do we have to stimulate our economy, but we have to be working to enhance our manufacturing base, work on our automobile industry. So we have a lot of internal decision-making that is important to our economic future. And I think China does, too. mean, China is stimulating your economy at the central government level. You are looking to deal with problems like migrant workers who no longer have jobs.

So, we each have our own internal domestic challenges. But we cannot solve those at the expense of generating global growth again, which will benefit both of our people.

MS. YANG: You certainly have your hands full, with all sorts of challenges and problems around the world, from Iraq to Gaza Strip, from nuclear proliferation to climate change. And then, of course, the economic crisis.

How would you set an achievable target for your term, as secretary of state?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it's true, that we have come into office at a time of so many problems. You mentioned a few of the most well known. I don't know that we can pick and choose. It's one of the reasons why I have advocated the appointment of special envoys, because I think we need, as they say, all hands on deck. Everyone has to work hard together to try to untangle some of these problems, to look for solutions where possible.

So, I don't have the luxury of saying, "I will only work on this." I have to be very conscious of everything going on in the world. But I did choose to come, for my first trip, to Asia, because I want to send a clear message that the United States is both a trans-Pacific, as well as a trans-Atlantic power, and that much of what we see as the potential for positive growth and good relations in the 21st century will come with Asian countries like China.

MS. YANG: Thank you very much for your time, although it falls short of my questions. Well, can I squeeze just one more?


MS. YANG: Do you think that China should further invest into American treasury bonds? Because there is a debate here - with unclear future, we should stop buying more.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly do think that the Chinese government and the central bank here in China is making a very smart decision by continuing to invest in treasury bonds for two reasons.

First, because it's a good investment. It's a safe investment. Even despite the economic challenges sweeping over the world, the United States has a well-deserved financial stability reputation.

And, secondly, because our economies are so intertwined. The Chinese know that, in order to start exporting again to its biggest market, namely, the United States, the United States has to take some very drastic measures with this stimulus package, which means we have to incur more debt.

It would not be in China's interest if we were unable to get our economy moving again. So, by continuing to support American treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. We are truly going to rise or fall together. We are in the same boat. And, thankfully, we are rowing in the same direction, toward landfall.

MS. YANG: Okay. So we have to keep rowing?


MS. YANG: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton.


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PRN: 2009/T1-25