Hillary’s speech offers clue to Sino-US ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-15 0:04:09

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton launched the first major rally of her campaign on Saturday. Hillary emphasized that "prosperity can't be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers and democracy can't be just for billionaires and corporations."

The 45-minutes speech mainly focused on domestic issues. In the brief mention of international affairs, Hillary labeled Russia, Iran and North Korea as traditional security threats to the US. She also stressed the US has to counter such emerging threats as cyber attacks and terror networks. But she did not mention the South China Sea, nor the security challenge China poses to the US.

Although US presidential candidates rarely make foreign policy a main theme in their first campaign rally, Hillary's speech on Saturday reassured those who are concerned with China-US relations that the simmering  South China Sea row is not an urgent topic in US politics. At least it ranks behind US domestic affairs, as well as challenges of Russia, Iran and North Korea. 

Hillary was the initiator of the US "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific, but she circumvented the South China Sea issue in her address. This may disappoint those supporters of an active US intervention in South China Sea disputes. With the unfolding of the presidential campaign, China will become a topic sooner or later. But arguments that China-US relations are approaching a "tipping point" are heard mainly in academic circles and are not picked up by the White House. Hillary is competing to succeed Obama, so it is unlikely she will strike a discordant tune against the White House over China policy.

Hillary's husband, former president Bill Clinton, had campaigned on a platform of "confronting dictators from Beijing to Bagdad" in 1992. More than two decades later, engagement and cooperation between Beijing and Washington have been expanded greatly. It is no longer the time that wanton China-bashing can be tolerated in a campaign. Any serious contender has to choose words carefully if they want to express dissatisfaction toward China.

Hillary doesn't have ample room to make abrupt changes to the Sino-US relationship. Most of the hawkish remarks came from people who don't need to take responsibility for this crucial relationship. Hillary should be clearly aware that Sino-US ties cannot afford reckless actions. Too much overstatement is to dig herself into a hole.

Over the decades, China and the US have shown more interests in exploring potential. For politicians, people's wellbeing is the priority. They should not make decisions based on short-term gains.

Posted in: Editorial

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