Sunday, February 15, 2009

China Syndrome

Once again, it is difficult to find any mention of our new Secretary of State in the newspapers. What has she been doing? The LA Times today suggests that Hillary is picking and choosing her assignments so as to maximize her outcomes. Specifically she is focussing on China where she is likely to make more headway than in some of the other "inheritances" such as Iran (and those pesky nukes), Afpak and No. Korea. Those get "super envoys" like Holbrooke.

The characterization of Clinton trying to own China because it is such a good gig reminds me of the Amy Poehler skit on SNL right after the election when she appeared as the Secretary of State designee Hillary Clinton and said "There has never been a worse time in our nation's history to step into the Presidency. Boo hoo. Seriously would you rather fix the economy or travel the globe. Point Hillary!"

What will Hillary do in China? Well, she will wrest away the economic issues from administration economists, try to undo Geithner's comment about China manipulating currency, talk about climate change and the environment, and mention Tibet and human rights, although very softly. Huh? Hillary took China to task years ago about its human rights practices but times change. Or do they? Our government has done little in the past 15 years to address human rights abuses in China. I remember giving a talk about 13 years ago at a law school about the limited but improving access and cooperation we were getting in motion picture antipiracy and distribution issues in China and having a human rights lawyer tell me after the talk that they wanted our secret since they had no access or cooperation. Well, I guess Hillary has to choose her battles. I wish her luck on her quest to conquer China.

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