Clinton hits out at Trump, Xi in remarks at Beijing conference

Mrs Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state, said the Trump administration had retreated from diplomacy. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Mrs Hillary Clinton hit out at both US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in remarks via video to a conference in Beijing.

Mrs Clinton, a former secretary of state, said the Trump administration had retreated from diplomacy. She called on both the US and China to avoid "bluster" or "personal taunts" in dealing with North Korea, and said the six-party talks on denuclearisation should resume.

"Beijing should remember that inaction is a choice as well," Mrs Clinton said on Tuesday (Nov 28), referring to China's approach toward North Korea.

Mrs Clinton also said that Mr Xi's consolidation of power creates anxieties about a more assertive Beijing. She called for strengthened intellectual property protection and an end to both discrimination against US companies and unfair currency practices - themes Mr Trump hit on during his first presidential visit to Asia this month.

"What's striking is that the complaints Clinton makes about China are very similar to the ones that Trump has made, suggesting that any US administration would be focused on getting tougher with Beijing," said Mr Siddharth Mohandas, a principal of The Asia Group in Washington and a former adviser to Mr John Kerry when he was secretary of state.

"The difference is that Clinton would likely have invested more in regional diplomacy to achieve these goals, and that may have achieved greater regional buy-in," he said.

Mrs Clinton's remarks - including a speech and question-and-answer session - come as countries in the region question China's intentions, as well as America's commitment to the Asia Pacific.

Mr Trump has sought revamped trade deals on US terms while pushing nations to do more to isolate North Korea.

During her time as the top US diplomat from 2009 to 2013, Mrs Clinton pushed America's economic and military rebalance to Asia, a move seen by Chinese strategists as an attempt to contain its rise in the region.

She said on Tuesday that Mr Xi faced a choice of standing with those who support instability and conflict, or those who support stability and order.

China's path to success doesn't lie in "secret" military buildups or "bullying smaller neighbours", said Mrs Clinton.

Mrs Clinton also reiterated her stand against human rights abuses in China, citing her 2012 decision to help blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng seek refuge at the US embassy in Beijing.

Mr Chen's escape from house arrest coincided with a visit by Mrs Clinton to Beijing, causing a diplomatic crisis between the world's two largest economies.

Mrs Clinton, who lost to Mr Trump in last year's US presidential election, said that technology companies played a role in spreading false information during the campaign. She warned that the same thing could happen in China.

She also told the audience that her days as a candidate were over, and she hopes another woman will run for president in the future.

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