Beijing/Singapore: Hillary Clinton hit out at both US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in remarks via video to a conference in Beijing.

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 denuclearization should resume.

“Beijing should remember that inaction is a choice as well," Clinton said on Tuesday, referring to China’s approach toward North Korea.

Clinton also said that 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 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 Siddharth Mohandas, a principal of The Asia Group in Washington and a former adviser to 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.

‘Bullying smaller neighbours’

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. 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, 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 Tuesday that 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 Clinton.

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

Clinton, who lost to 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. Bloomberg

Close