Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 18, 2011


QUESTION: Good morning, Secretary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.

QUESTION: Good morning. So you have met with the Chinese President Hu Jintao for many times. What’s your impression of him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am very impressed by the serious commitment that President Hu Jintao brings to all of our meetings and the work between our countries. He listens very carefully. He responds thoughtfully. And I have grown to really appreciate how difficult it must be to be the leader of such a large, growing country. And I think that he and his team are very committed to charting a stable, peaceful course into the future.

QUESTION: President Hu Jintao is arriving in Washington, D.C. this afternoon for a state visit. What are your expectations on his visit? What topics do you expect the two countries to talk about, and what kind of results do you expect to achieve?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are according this visit the highest level of importance and significance. We have worked hard with our Chinese counterparts to plan a successful, positive visit for President Hu Jintao. Of course, the highest level of protocol will be present with a state dinner and a state arrival ceremony. But there will also be an opportunity for more informal discussions, meetings with business leaders from both the United States and China, an opportunity for President Hu Jintao to go to Chicago to see a Chinese factory and meet the people there.

So we have tried to construct a visit that would be in keeping with the positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship we are building between our two countries. And we will be talking about many issues, not only the issues that are important to our two countries, but also regional issues and global issues. There is always so much to talk about when the United States and China meet.

QUESTION: In the speech last Friday, you said that this is a critical juncture for Sino-U.S. relations. Could you please elaborate on this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe that after 30 years of hard work between our two countries in developing relationships, after the extraordinary progress that China has made in the last 30 years improving the economy, lifting people out of poverty, and so much else, that we are now poised at the beginning of this new century to determine how the United States and China working together can keep the peace not just in Asia, but around the world; can help to grow the economy so that more people have a chance to live very satisfying, comfortable lives; that we tackle problems from health issues to piracy together.

There is so much that we have to worry about. We bear special responsibilities as the first and second biggest economies. We bear special responsibilities because of the threat to world stability posed by the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. We bear special responsibility to ensure that we have a concerted response to climate change. And there are just a lot of challenges that we must face together. So this is a critical juncture to determine how good the cooperative relationship between our two countries can be going forward.

QUESTION: So what’s your expectations for the bilateral ties in the year of 2011?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that the work that we started in this Administration to build a positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship is creating a strong foundation. We will have differences. Any two people, let alone two countries as great as our two countries are, will have differences. But we want to create very peaceful ways of resolving those differences.

We want not only to have good relations between our governments and our leaders, but good relationships between our people. I have always thought that the American and Chinese people had a lot in common. We are hardworking people; we are pragmatic people; we are problem-solving people. When I was at the Shanghai Expo this past year, I was impressed by what I saw there of how our – the peoples of our two countries seemed to gravitate toward each other.

So there’s a lot that I would like to see in 2011, and this visit will help us set the direction.

QUESTION: You mentioned people-to-people exchanges. Why do you think it’s so important of – those such kind of exchanges and initiatives?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Because I think that it is important for our two people to develop more understanding and trust and appreciation. We have very different histories; we have different cultures. But we do share some common concerns in how we can grow each of our economies so that more Chinese and American people have better lives, how we can solve problems together.

Leaders are on the stage for a period of time – President Obama, President Hu Jintao. After President Obama’s second term, after President Hu Jintao finishes his service to your country, there will be new leaders in both China and the United States. But the people can develop strong understandings that persist despite leaders who come and go, and that’s what I would like to see. So we are pioneering 100,000 students to go to China to study. I would like to see more Chinese students coming to the United States. We want more business exchanges, academic exchanges. We’re working together on clean energy. And we not only have relations between our national governments, but between our state and provincial governments.

And so the more we can create a web of relationships, then – there will be problems, there’ll be difficulties, but we will ride through those and we will continue on this positive course that I think is in both of our interests.

QUESTION: We know that the Strategic and the Economic Dialogue, or S&ED, was an initiative by the Obama Administration. So compared with previous dialogues, what’s the significance of this (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think two are very important differences. One is that it’s both strategic and economic together. We had parallel dialogues, but we think it’s important to combine the discussions about strategic and economic issues. And secondly, we’ve tried to not only have it at the highest levels, but to go into our governments, into our respective bureaucracies.

So when I was in China last year for the SED, we had hundreds of Americans and hundreds of Chinese. Because let’s say the headlines are about North Korea, about currency, about human rights – these are the big kinds of issues that we discuss at the highest levels. But below that, there are so many conversations going on, conversations about improving education and learning from each other, improving healthcare, disaster preparedness, how better to control our borders, how to deal with small and medium-sized businesses.

So while we have very intense strategic and economic discussions about the issues in the headlines, we want to develop the habits of cooperation between our governments. I would like to have somebody in your department of education know on a first-name basis someone in our Department of Education so that they can continue a dialogue. So I think in this Strategic and Economic Dialogue that the Obama Administration has put together, we want it to establish a firm foundation for government-to-government and people-to-people cooperation regardless of the headlines and regardless of the national leaders.

QUESTION: So in your opinion, what kind of breakthroughs or goals have been achieved through this (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, a lot of positive work is going on. Let me take climate change and clean energy for just two examples. We have signed memoranda of understanding between our two countries. We have academic exchanges going on between some of your great universities and some of ours. Our Department of Energy, which, as you know, is headed by a Chinese American Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Dr. Steven Chu, is working with his counterparts in China. We have a lot of joint research going on on clean energy. So I think that’s just one example of what we see as the positive outcomes of our closer cooperation.

QUESTION: As you mentioned, that China and the U.S. share common interests in many issues. However, differences and frictions exist.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: So how would the U.S. Government promote strategic trust between the two countries?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think strategic trust starts with openness and transparency. We want our Chinese friends to know what our positions are and why we hold those positions. And our Chinese counterparts want us to understand how deeply they feel about some of the positions that they hold. So we want to start with a very open dialogue and to search for areas of common agreement and narrow the areas of difference.

Now, on some issues, we know that there are very strong opinions on both of our sides. But we don’t want anything to interfere with our continuing to talk and our continuing to search for ways to find some common ground. And I think in my speech that I gave last week, we said that we’re very encouraging of what we see as the positive, peaceful relationship going on between mainland China and Taiwan. We think that’s a very good step and we are encouraging that, because we have a one-China policy, and we support that policy, and we want to see peaceful relations grow between the Chinese people and the people of Taiwan.

That’s just one example where we’ve had historical differences, but we support what China is doing on increasing economic trade and the like, and we want to see if we can’t continue that path.

QUESTION: How important is a win-win situation, is – like, talked about all the time?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think we should look for that. I mean, I said very clearly in my speech last week – and I said when I first went to China – that I really believe China and the United States, we’re in the same boat. And we can only move forward if we move forward together rowing in the same direction.

And in my recent speech, I have pointed out that in the 21st century, there are so many problems we both face – the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction that know no borders; the spread of extremism that threatens stability and security in my country as well as yours; the spread of pandemic diseases, natural disasters. We have so many transnational threats not just from other countries, but from non-state actors.

I think China and the United States are very practical countries, and even though we may be at different stages of our development, we want to see things kept stable, secure, peaceful for commercial relations, for other interchanges between people. So I believe that the Chinese and the American governments and people need to work together toward solving problems in a win-win way. Now, we will continue to have our disagreements, but that should not interfere with dealing with these other big issues we face.

QUESTION: My last question is: Will you campaign for the presidential elections in 2012?

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) No. I’m going to be supporting President Obama for reelection. I am very proud to be on his team and to be our Secretary of State. And I am very humbled by the many challenges that we are working on together. And I am excited about this important visit from President Hu Jintao and I hope I can make a small contribution to the positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship between my country and China.

QUESTION: Well, you mentioned a lot of, like, challenges --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: -- you are facing. But what kind of progress is – the Obama Administration is making in, like, bilateral ties with China?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think we’re – I think we are making progress. I think that in – take the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons or North Korea’s nuclear program. China was very much involved in these sanctions that were adopted by the United Nations Security Council on both Iran and North Korea, because both China and the United States know that if North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons programs, it could threaten China, the United States, the rest of the world. So we worked very closely together on that.

Tackling the threat of piracy; China is very committed to keeping sea lanes open and having a way for the world community to stop the threat of piracy. So they’re working, China’s working with us on that. When it comes to North Korea, we know that that’s a particularly sensitive issue because North Korea is China’s neighbor, and we are working intensely to find a way that we can change the behavior of North Korea. So there are many areas where I think we’ve shown real progress in the last two years.

And I would add too on climate change, both in Copenhagen and in Cancun, China has been helping to lead the world toward a solution to the threat posed by climate change.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very good to talk to you.

QUESTION: Thank you for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.



PRN: 2011/070

[This is a mobile copy of Interview With Emma Wu of CCTV]