Sunday, February 22, 2009

Last Leg: China, Farewell

With official meetings over, Clinton kicked off the third and final day of her highly anticipated first visit to China with a church service at modern Haidian Church in a western suburb of Beijing, due to be followed by audiences with civil society leaders. When asked about her church visit, she was reported saying with a laugh, "I thought I would just go to church... I think that speaks volumes."

President George W Bush did this as well when visiting the country himself to highlight lack of religious freedom in China. But they said Hillary's church-going was "private" unlike Bush's which was open to the media. Security was tight including plain clothes police. They kept a small crowd of onlookers well away from the entrance of the church.

She then headed to the U.S. Embassy to host a forum with a small group of women and "civil society leaders" including academics, non-governmental org leaders and entrepreneurs. Among the women reportedly invited to meet her are AIDS activist Goa Yaojie and magazine editor Hu Shuli. Hillary said that she wanted to know about the obstacles facing women in China, and was told about campaigns for Aids patients in the country as well as the need for females at high levels in the Chinese government.

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. She chats with Sun Shangwu, head of the news center of the China Daily, and receives a gift while waiting for the chat to begin. As you can see, she's been on the cover. :)

This is a good article from the China Daily about her Asia Trip. They had a little tid bit about the hotel she was staying at:

The human rights issue has been a sticking point during this part of her trip. Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi pretty much agreed to disagree on human rights. We all know human rights is a huge important issue to Hillary, but this was not the focus of her trip. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International were angered by the Secretary in saying she would not allow the issue to block progress on those pressing global problems. But this statement didn't come without some backlash. Chinese activists report that several dissidents had been harassed, detained or warned not to speak out or meet with Clinton.

Zeng Jinyan has spoken out about this. She is one of China's most prominent dissidents and wife of jailed activist Hu Jia. She told AFP in an Internet message that under house arrest because Hillary Clinton came and that police controls forced her from attending a meeting with Gao Yaojie, an AIDS activist from central China, on Saturday. Gao Yaojie was due to arrive in Beijing on Saturday and had a planned meeting with Clinton today.

There have been reports of others activists being harassed by Chinese officials and barred from going to events. Many of these people signed Charter 'O8, a petition released last year calling for political reform in China. Apparently the authorities in Beijing are furious over the petition.

Well, Secretary Clinton has already left Beijing, wrapping up her tour of four great Asian nations this afternoon. This is very bittersweet, I can't believe this amazing ride is over but I'm glad she will be back in the U.S. All in all, great job Hillary! You've made our nation proud, see ya in the homeland!

5 comments:

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