Clinton 'reintroduces' US to Asia
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up her trip to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and China on Sunday. Her aim was to reenergize key ties to the region.
Hillary Clinton headed home from China Sunday at the end of her maiden trip as secretary of State, saying she was leaving "encouraged by the possibilities of what a stronger relationship can mean for the Chinese and American people."Skip to next paragraph
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A whirlwind Asian tour that took her to Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea, as well as Beijing, appeared to have served its purpose "to reintroduce America to the world and to bring a message … about how we are going to work with people to find common ground" as Secretary Clinton put it.
She met a generally favorable reception from her hosts, though some Chinese analysts cautioned that problems will arise as Washington seeks Beijing's agreement on how exactly to tackle the global economic crisis and climate change, the two top items on Clinton's agenda.
During a trip clearly focused on China, Clinton also visited two key allies in the region.
In Tokyo, her first stop, she made "an effort to assuage Japanese fears … that Obama would revive trade pressure and ignore Japan in favor of China" says Ellis Krauss, an expert in Japanese politics at the University of California in San Diego.
In Seoul, the secretary of State made a pointed show of support for South Korea as North Korea raises the level of invective against its neighbor, and apparently prepares to test a long-range missile.
Clinton also visited Indonesia, paying attention to the largest Muslim country in the world and a fledgling democracy in a part of the globe where some felt that the last US administration had not been active enough.
The trip marked the first time in more than 50 years that a new US secretary of State has made Asia her first destination.
Top stop: Beijing
"The Obama administration feels that Bush followed too narrow and parsimonious an agenda with Asia" says Kenneth Lieberthal, a prominent China expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "They intend to engage Asia."
Clinton's key stop, however, was inBeijing, where she signaled President Obama's desire to deepen a relationship that has already been progressing smoothly for several years.
As the largest developing and developed nations, Clinton said, "it is essential that China and the United States have a positive and cooperative relationship" in tackling grave global problems.