Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to China on September 4 was met with cold shoulders by the Chinese media.
According to The New York Times, the state-run Global Times ran an editorial saying, "Many people do not like Secretary Clinton. The antipathy and vigilance that she has personally brought to the Chinese public are not necessarily in the United States' diplomatic interest." A foreign policy expert for Xinhua wrote, "“The United States should stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings."
Despite the media's chilly reception, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi extended Clinton a warm welcome in what has been a series of meetings for the Secretary of State with China's top leaders, including President Hu Jintao.
The ambivalence towards Clinton's visit partly stems from the United States' criticism of China's assertiveness over territorial claims in the South China Sea. The two countries' relationship has not been helped by the State Department's diplomacy with ASEAN members such as the Philippines, who also lay claim to certain disputed areas. This has led to the increasing perception that the United States' is engaging in policies to limit Chinese influence in the region, a sentiment that is prevalent among China's political elite.
Similar tension has underscored Clinton's recent visits to the country. In May, her visit to engage in talks on Sino-U.S. economic relations coincided with the controversy of Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights lawyer who sought safety at an American embassy after spending more than a year under house arrest and suffering physical abuse by local authorities. Clinton eventually finished the talks and managed to elicit an agreement from the Chinese government to secure Chen's safety. He is now with his family in New York.
Clinton's fervent push for human rights in Asia has also been perceived as an attempt to meddle in China's regional security policies. Her meeting with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as a result of Myanmar’s democratic reforms and the subsequent reestablishment of U.S. trade seemed to undermine Myanmar’s close relationship with China, who has had intimate economic and military ties with the country dating back to the inception of both nations in the 1940s.
Clinton's role as Secretary of State is nearing the end, as she has stated she will not assume the post if President Obama is re-elected this November. Instead, she plans to continue her advocacy work for women's and children's rights, a move that Josh Dzieza of The Daily Beast claims would "be a return to the beginnings of her legal career." For now, Clinton's intentions to leave high office are clear, but a return to politics within the next four years has not been ruled out.