Farewell, Hillary Clinton
By Liu Dan
Translated By Elizabeth Cao
5 February 2013
Edited by Natalie Clager
China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)
On Feb. 1, Hillary Clinton officially retired as the sixty-seventh secretary of state of the United States, the end of her four-year tenure as the top United States diplomat. Her reviews can be described as mixed. Her supporters praise her energetic and extraordinary ability while her opponents sharply criticized the impunity of her strong hand.
Since taking office, Hillary Clinton has spent just as much time in the air flying as she has on the ground. This flight expert has once said that this is a 24/7 job, in which there is no off time. According to various statistics, over the past four years, Clinton has visited 112 countries, given thousands of public talks and flown over 1.4 million kilometers, which is the equivalent of 38 laps around the earth. Thus, Hillary Clinton has won respect from the media as a model worker and secretary of state. She has also learned from the Secret Service how to protect herself and used the method of pinching herself to stay awake to overcome jet lag, which allowed her to stay awake in meetings with important international figures.
Mixed Public Opinion
During her term, Clinton worked hard with President Obama to promote a new Asia-Pacific strategy, using the United States’ foreign policy to do so. She used her own star power and strengthened the influence of the United States overseas through public speaking and the Internet. But looking at it as a whole, under her watch, United States diplomacy seemed particularly aggressive and vigorous, but in reality had limited success. The Economist’s commentaries on Hillary Clinton’s performance led one to believe that her execution of American foreign policy in the four years after she first started did little to reduce the troubles facing the United States internationally. Foreign Policy magazine said that Clinton was not forward on the Iraqi troop withdrawal issue, she was rarely involved in the Afghanistan issues, she tried to repair the ties between the U.S. and Pakistan but did not succeed and she did not do anything in regards to the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Russia’s View Report* believed that Hillary Clinton may have had a strong hand in foreign policy and, though this effect may not seem obvious, she made a mess of the relations between Russia and the United States.
From the U.N. conference on arms sales to Taiwan, to the South China Sea issue and Diaoyu Island issues, Hillary Clinton’s implementation of a rebalancing strategy in Asia has cause Chinese opinion of her to undergo a tremendous change. In Chinese and American relations, Clinton primarily did three things during her four years as secretary of state: one, in 2010 she caused a controversy with Google, increasing tension between China and the United States; two, she jumpstarted a situation in the South China Sea and increased tension in the East China Sea as well as urged Obama for a diplomatic strategic shift, focusing on a return to an Asia-Pacific strategy, in particular on China; three, she repeatedly went to the countries in the Asia-Pacific region to talk about issues with China and the threat of China, pulling these countries closer to the United States. Through her perseverance, she indeed managed to increase and intensify conflict and tensions between these other countries and China. Although she has visited China nine times, and with no less effort and enthusiasm as she put into the other countries, she did not improve her public image there, and even inflamed relations between China and Japan. Shortly before leaving office, she reiterated after meeting with the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida that the United States recognizes the Diaoyu Islands as within the administrative jurisdiction of Japan and opposes any action that would undermine Japan’s jurisdiction there.
Clinton’s departure should be a good thing for relations between China and the United States because her successor John Kerry does not want to be as aggressive toward China, making it possibly easier for China to deal with him. Hillary has been a very strong secretary of state. Although Obama has his own idea of diplomacy and foreign policy, due to Clinton’s own power she was able to have a profound impact on the president’s decision making. Even if it were a retreat and push back, this change was clearly detrimental to the relations between China and the United States. But it is also clear to see that John Kerry will likely continue Clinton’s foreign policy route. Even if Kerry has a different personal style on matters than Hillary Clinton, this foreign policy and diplomacy will continue. The future of Sino-American relations remains uncertain.
Good Sino-American Relations
On Jan. 25, the just sworn-in Obama accepted an appearance on the CBS News program 60 Minutes with the outgoing Clinton, giving a rare interview at the White House. In this joint interview, Obama praised Hillary, referring to her as the closest companion and outstandingly talented. Hillary’s self-discipline, determination and carefully thought out, extraordinary diplomatic skills left a deep impression on him. Hillary said in the interview that although she had once politely refused Obama’s invitation, Obama’s repeated insistence made it hard to turn down this offer.
The question of what will happen when Hillary leaves office has caused a lot of speculation. Some analysts believe that the fact that Obama and Hillary attended an interview together implies Obama’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s political future, making it likely that Hillary will succeed Obama and become the Democratic Party’s next presidential candidate. This speculation does not appear to be groundless. After all, Clinton’s time as first lady, senator and secretary of state have provided her a wealth of political experience, making it quite possible for her to compete in the next election. Her own political resources put together with the support of her husband Bill Clinton make it difficult for other possible contenders, such as Vice President Joe Biden, to obtain the funding and prominence to rival her.
Within the Democratic Party, it seems people have high hopes for Hillary Clinton to compete in the next presidential election. But when asked about future planning, Hillary did not mention any of this in her joint interview with Obama and instead said that both the president and she were very concerned about the future of the United States but they cannot foresee the future. This ambiguous answer has allowed many to come to their own conclusions about Clinton’s future. In reality, Clinton’s biggest enemy is not Biden, nor is it the Republican candidate in 2016, but her own health. At the end of last December, Hillary Clinton was admitted to the hospital due to thrombosis. Despite being discharged after three days, rumors were quickly circulating that she may lose her vision. She has said on many occasions last year that mental and physical fatigue were some of her considerations for leaving the political arena. Despite turning 66, Hillary Clinton still forged on, but the wrinkles around her eyes and forehead seem to remind people that no one can escape age.
* Editor’s Note: The exact translation of the Russian publication’s name could not be found.
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