Wed, February 18, 2009
China > China & World > Hillary Clinton kicks off Asian tour

U.S. secretary of state's Asian tour meaningful

2009-02-14 06:22:11 GMT2009-02-14 14:22:11 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Hillary Clinton leaves on Sunday for Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China on her first overseas tour as secretary of state, which reveals the importance the new U.S. administration attaches to a rising Asia.

Clinton's scheduled Asian tour takes place at a time when the United State is still smarting from the spreading financial crisis, which has also had a grave impact on the rest of the world. China, which has adopted effective measures to tackle the global crisis, is believed to be an important stop in the trip.

Clinton, former first lady of the United States, is no stranger to China. She led a U.S. delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995, and in June 1998, she was accompanying her husband, then President Bill Clinton, on a trip to China.

To the new secretary of state, her forthcoming trip to Beijing is not a simple recall of her past experiences in China, but a demonstration that President Barack Obama and his administration will attach great importance to China, observers here said.

"You know very well how important China is and how essential it is that we have a positive cooperative relationship," Clinton said on Friday when addressing the Asia Society in New York. "It is vital to peace and prosperity not only in the Asia-Pacific region but worldwide."

It is generally believed that Clinton's scheduled visit to China will be instrumental in laying the foundation for upgrading U.S. engagement with China from the past "economic dialogue" to a "comprehensive dialogue."

Clinton's Asian tour is a follow-up to a flurry of diplomatic activity involving senior U.S. officials. In recent days, Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell has toured the Middle East, U.S Vice President Joe Biden visited Germany -- where he addressed the annual Munich security conference to outline the latest U.S. foreign policy -- and Richard Holbrooke, Obama's special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan traveled to South Asia.

In addition to China, Clinton's diplomatic journey also focuses on Japan and South Korea, both of them U.S. traditional and major allies in Asia.

Clinton will discuss common approaches to the challenges facing the international community, including the financial turmoil, nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula, regional security, and climate change, according to State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood.

In her latest foreign policy speech, Clinton said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear program remains "the most acute challenge," and she reiterated U.S. commitments to helping prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Asia.

Analysts said the tone of the accusations leveled by the Obama administration and its pledge on nuclear disarmament are hardly different from that of the former administration of George W. Bush. Relations between the DPRK and South Korea are turning from bad to worse again, which will leave a uphill job for the new U.S. government if it really wants to get some things done.

It is not surprise Clinton has put Indonesia into her diplomatic travel agenda if people could still remember Obama's remarks made to Arab media late last month.

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemies," Obama said in an interview with Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite television network. "We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect."

As the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia apparently has influence in the Muslim world.

Clinton said the United States and Indonesia "have an opportunity for stronger partnership in education, energy and food security."

Actually, Washington's ties with Jakarta, which have improved steadily in recent years, are playing an important role in U.S. efforts to improve its image in the world and create a good international environment for its economic recovery at home.

More than three weeks have passed since Obama took office on Jan. 20, which have witnessed the White House rolling out its roadmap of new domestic and foreign policies. In this sense, Clinton's Asian tour will be an endeavor to contribute to Obama's call for "remaking America."

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