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Hillary's Reluctant Welcome

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
February 20, 2009
The Daily Beast


There aren't many places Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel where she'll be less popular than George W. Bush and his minions--but China is certainly one of them (along with India and parts of Africa).

For the most part, dictators (called disadvantaged democrats by business) prefer Republicans to Democrats. Liberals and "progressives," as they now often call themselves, are forever bringing up unwelcome subjects such as human rights and the environment. Dictators do not regard these mentions as friendly acts. With Republicans, it's almost all business. Sometimes, conservatives will also throw in a dash of accusations about dictators in general and China in particular spending far too much money on arms and troops, but that's sort of business, too.

Clinton announced that she would address human rights including Tibet. She and the Democrats are, of course, sincere about this issue, but they raised it more just to show the Obama administration cares. However gently or diplomatically Clinton performs this chore, Chinese leaders won't like it.

Nor did they applaud Clinton's reminding the world that China has now exceeded the US as the No. 1 emitter of carbon dioxide, the bad global warmer. But when you're  No. 1, you have to learn to take the lumps. Again, Chinese leaders should not fret too much over this. The Obama administration has so much on its foreign and domestic plates that even the politically glorious matter of global warming will have to wait.

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