Hillary Clinton in China amid tensions over Syria, South China Sea


Chinese President Hu Jintao shakes hands with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 5, 2012.



Hillary Clinton’s trip to China this week likely did little to lessen strains surrounding Syria and disputed South China Sea islands based on comments coming from Beijing Wednesday.

The US Secretary of State met with President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in the Chinese capital.

Clinton was pushing China to drop its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as find peaceful resolutions to disputes with Japan and other Southeast Asian nations over resources in the area.

“History will judge that China’s position on the Syria question is a promotion of the appropriate handling of the situation,” Yang said at a joint news conference, The Associated Press reported. “What we have in mind is the interests of the people of Syria and the region and the interests of peace, stability and development in the region and throughout the world.”

China and Russia, members of the UN Security Council, routinely block resolutions aimed at replacing Assad and stopping the civil war that’s killed thousands in Syria.

Closer to home, China has found itself at an impasse with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines regarding disputed islands and natural resources in the region, SKY News said.

As Clinton arrived – in what could be her final significant trip ahead of the Nov. 6 presidential election – the Washington-Beijing relationship appeared tense.

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Chinese state media accused the US of meddling in regional affairs to gain advantage and of having a “lack of neutrality,” SKY News said.

Clinton, however, said the two nations are steadfast allies capable of resolving their differences.

“Because we have invested under your leadership and President Obama’s leadership in such intensive communication and now are working in areas of practical cooperation, we believe that our relationship is on a strong, solid base,” Clinton said, according to SKY.

Clinton was to meet with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, who suddenly cancelled the engagement, BBC said.

Some may speculate that it was a political message; however, BBC said the man expected to become China’s next president is ailing from a back injury and had pulled out of meetings with other government leaders.

Clinton didn’t let that stop her agenda, though, and urged China and the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) to settle upon a “code of conduct,” BBC reported.

While Yang suggested there would be no further disputes, he added, “China has sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters,” according to BBC.

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