Earlier this week Secretary Clinton delivered an important address at the US Institute of Peace on the expansive, nuanced, and special relationship between the US and China. The Secretary spoke as part of an all-day conference marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing in 1972. President Nixon often referred to the visit as “the week that changed the world,” and historians agree that it constituted one of the most significant events in the diplomatic history of either country.
In addition to the Secretary, the conference featured former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former US National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and an opening keynote address by PRC Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi via video link from Beijing. Moderators included noted American journalists Tom Brokaw, Margaret Warner, and David Ignatius and academics Dr Fred Bergsten, Dr David Lampton, and Mike Chinoy. The audience included members of Congress, students, the Nixon family, and representatives of the Washington diplomatic corps.
Secretary Clinton reviewed the impact of President Nixon’s trip on US-China relations over the past 40 years, discussed the numerous and deep ways in which the two countries engage, and shared her views on the future direction of the relationship. As usual, she brought keen insight, good humor, and refreshing candor to a topic that is too often framed in cartoonish terms.
She noted the more than six decades of immense American investment in regional stability, security, and development that helped create the conditions for economic growth in East Asia. She dealt head-on with the fallacies of containment and selective stakeholding. And she made the compelling case for rules-based global engagement, transparent decision-making, and univeral human rights.
Exerpting portions of the Secretary’s remarks would necessarily distort her message. If you are interested in the topic, I would urge you to read her speech in its entirety here or watch it above.