Human rights groups were outraged at Hillary Clinton for taking a backseat on raising human rights issues with China during her trip to Asia last week. AIUSA issued a scolding press release. Human Rights Watch expressed their disapproval on NPR. Was it really that bad? Let’s read the official transcript of her interaction with the press (search the words “human rights” to get to the problematic passage in the long transcript) and allow everyone else to be the judge.

I don’t agree with some folks saying Clinton has given up on speaking about human rights even before she landed in China. I think she made some smart decisions for her first official engagement with China as Secretary of State. She could speak more openly and freely as First Lady but it is no longer the case. There is a lot more at stake when she travels the world as the official representative of the US administration. Especially this is her first official meeting with many high ranking Chinese officials, it would be impolite to point out the shortcomings of the host before she was offered a cup of tea. There are going to be a few hand shakes and some warm ups to kick off a relationship.

Since the so-called downplay of human rights, Clinton had another interaction with the press after she met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Based on the transcript of this round, it sounds to me they have touched on human rights, probably not too specific and I don’t think it should be. Experts’ opinions were mixed.

By the way, Clinton was interviewed by Shanghai based Dragon TV. The AP video is a short clip of the interview. The full transcript is an entertaining read.

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