Morning Video Interviews with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Ok, I have them all now!
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Interview With Erica Hill of CBS’s The Early Show
January 18, 2011
QUESTION: And joining us now is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Madam Secretary, good morning.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, Erica.
QUESTION: The state visit, as we know, gives China the recognition and really a little bit of the pomp and circumstance that it’s been craving. It’s now the world’s second-largest economy, obviously a crucial partner for the U.S. I know it’s a relationship that the Administration has been working on. But you also said very clearly last Friday that distrust lingers on both sides. How will this state visit work to eliminate some of that distrust?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Erica, it’s a great question, and I have to say that even though we live in a world of virtual reality a lot of the time where people communicate with the flick of a mouse or the touch of a screen, we believe strongly that you still need to have face-to-face, relationship-building opportunities. And I have seen that so clearly in the last two years as Secretary of State. We’re proud to welcome President Hu Jintao for a state visit to Washington. It is the continuation of two years of the Obama Administration’s efforts to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship with China. And we think it is one of the most consequential relationships for the future of our country and the future of the world.
So we will be working to find common ground wherever we can to enhance cooperation, but there will remain differences. Obviously, first and foremost, I stand for America’s interests, Americans’ values, America’s security; the Chinese stand for theirs. And we do not always see the world the same way, which is to be expected, since we have very different histories and cultures. But it is imperative that we work not only government to government, but people to people, to build a foundation of better understanding and trust so that where we can agree, we will do so and work together.
QUESTION: One of those major issues, and especially for a lot of the American people as they look at this, is, of course, human rights, which you also brought up as you were speaking about – in fact, referencing specifically Liu Xiaobo from talking about the Nobel Prize, and you said – and I’m quoting here – talking about how that chair remaining empty at the ceremony in Oslo was a symbol of a great nation’s unrealized potential and unfulfilled promise. China, though, has repeatedly dismissed U.S. calls for greater human rights as interference. How do you work on that issue of human rights while also balancing out the need for working on things like trade agreements?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Because we want a comprehensive relationship in which these various issues are not eliminated because they are troubling, but are wrapped into our overall strategic and economic dialogue. I think everyone in the world knows that the United States and China have differences when it comes to human rights. That doesn’t prevent us from raising it in private and public, and it – and the fact that we have these differences doesn’t prevent us from working together on the economic prospects for the global economy.
So what I believe is that the United States must always stand for our values, and therefore, we must raise human rights, which remains at the heart of American diplomacy. But we cannot say that that’s all we’re going to be talking about, or the fact that we disagree there eliminates the need for us to work together on climate change, North Korea, Iran, and so much else.
QUESTION: You mentioned North Korea there, and the Korean Peninsula seemed to be on the brink of war not very long ago with, of course, the attack on a South Korean island and then South Korea’s military maneuvers that we saw. Will you and will the President be speaking with – and as you speak with your counterpart, your Chinese counterpart, asking them to be more firm when it comes to North Korea?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are engaged in an ongoing discussion with the Chinese, as well as the South Koreans and the Japanese and the Russians, all who are members of the so-called Six-Party Talks, about what we must do in order to restrain North Korea’s nuclear program and end its provocative behavior. China was helpful in this last series of incidents in helping to restrain North Korea in responding to what was a legitimate exercise by South Korea to demonstrate its defensive capacity. And we’re going to continue to work with our Chinese counterparts.
The fact is that a stable, nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is in both Chinese and American interests. Now, how we get to where we want to end up is what diplomacy is about. So we have an ongoing discussion and we are looking for the best way forward, and I believe we will have some productive talks about North Korea during the state visit with President Hu Jintao and his delegation.
QUESTION: The benefit, again, of those face-to-face meetings.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right.
QUESTION: There is so much attention, of course, on China and on the state visit, but there are other pressing issues at this point across the world. And last week on Thursday, you talked about the Middle East and stagnant governments there and you warned that the region’s foundation could be sinking into the sand. On Friday, we saw the president of Tunisia, President Ben Ali, who had been in power for 23 years, flee the country. Do you believe that that situation is serving, perhaps, as a wakeup call to other nations in that region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that certainly is what I’m hearing from my counterparts throughout the region. And as I said in the meeting in Doha, in the 21st century where people communicate constantly with one other, the old rules are not going to work. You can’t keep people in the dark, because everybody has a cell phone or a PDA. They have a way of communicating what they see going on and taking their own video and posting it to the internet.
Governments have to be aware that the rules have changed. And the best way to deal with the pent-up desires on the part of the huge number of young people in the world today, and particularly in the Arab world who don’t have jobs, who feel that they aren’t given neither economic nor political freedom, is to begin to look at how you create inclusive, participatory government that can deliver results for people. And of course, I understand the legitimate concerns of many of the governments which say if we open up, it’s the extremists who are going to rush in. And my response to that is: Not if you are giving support to NGOs and others who are looking for democratic participation where voices are heard, not silenced the way the extremists eventually choose to do. So this is a delicate, difficult time of change in much of the world, and particularly in that part of the world.
QUESTION: Extra, extra delicate, as you point out. I do want to ask you as well about former Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who, of course, has reemerged at this point, coming out of exile. The State Department is saying it was surprised by his return. Will the State Department put – push, rather, for prosecution?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very clear going back many years about the abuses of that regime. And certainly, we believe that his record is one of repression of the Haitian people. Ultimately, a decision about what is to be done is left to the government and people of Haiti. But we’re focused on trying to maintain stability, prevent chaos and violence in this very unpredictable period with his return, with cholera still raging, with the challenges of reconstruction, with an election that’s been challenged. It sometimes seems as though the Haitians just never get a break; they just don’t get enough of a period where they can regroup and take the necessary actions that will give them a stronger future.
So we stand with the Haitian people and with their aspirations, and we hope that we can get through this difficult period and get back to a more stable relationship within Haiti and between Haiti and the rest of the world.
QUESTION: Lastly, before we let you go, of course, the campaign season is already heating up for 2012. I know you’ve said that you plan to stay in your current position at least through this first term. Any thoughts, though, on ever looking again at perhaps running for an elected office?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I’ve been very clear that I think that is part of my very happy past, where I had a wonderful opportunity to serve the people of New York, to work beside my husband when he was president, to run for president myself, but I feel very good about the service I’m rendering now and will continue to do that.
QUESTION: And what about those rumors that we could see you over at the Department of Defense?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As far as I know, those are just rumors. I’m happy where I am, and I’m doing everything I can to persuade Bob Gates to stay as long as he can where he is.
QUESTION: All right. Secretary Clinton, thanks so much for your time this morning.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great to talk to you, Erica. Thank you.
And her interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s Good Morning America
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QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thanks for joining us this morning. The White House is really rolling out the red carpet for President Hu, but I think a lot of Americans, especially those having trouble in the job market, are having a hard time figuring out how to think about China. Are they friend or foe, ally or adversary?
SECRETARY CLINTON: George, one of the reasons why we are rolling out the red carpet and having President Hu Jintao come for a state visit is because we think that we’ll be able better to answer such a question as we move forward. And my hope is —
QUESTION: You don’t know yet?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, my hope is that we have a normal relationship, a very positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship, where in some areas we are going to compete – there’s no doubt about that – but in many areas we’re going to cooperate. And we’ve seen that pattern in the last two years and it’s a pattern that I think reflects the reality and the complexity of our relationship.
QUESTION: It’s tough competition on the economic front especially. Your senior senator in New York, Chuck Schumer, has said America is getting fed up with the way China is manipulating its currency, closing down its markets, and he says that at times they are seeking unfair economic advantage. He’s actually proposed legislation that would sanction them, have tariffs if they don’t stop manipulating their currency.
Can you see a point where the Administration would get behind something like that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, George, let me say first that I think Americans need to put this relationship into perspective. Our economy is about three times the size of the Chinese economy, where they have four times the number of people. So our standard of living is much higher, our innovation, our creativity – all of that is really to America’s advantage.
They have a huge labor market. They have lower costs. And they are going to be a really tough competitor. And what we’re looking for is a competition where nobody’s got their thumb or their fist on the scale. So —
QUESTION: That’s the way it is right now, though.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No – we agree. That’s why we continue to raise issues of currency, of what they call indigenous innovation, which could be a disadvantage for our firms; of the failure to protect intellectual property, which is really our bread and butter because we are at the forefront of creating intellectual property.
So we are very clear in raising a lot of these issues. We do it continuously. We will be doing it during this visit. And we see small steps. I think it’s important to realize that we’re going to stand up for our values and our interests and our security. They’re going to stand up for theirs as they see it.
So part of what this dialogue is about is making sure that there’s no doubt in the Chinese mind that we think it’s in our interest, but it’s also in their interest, to have a freer market economy, to create more indigenous innovation, if you will, but not at the disadvantage of American creativity, intellectual property, and businesses.
So this is an ongoing discussion. We’re not going to be able to change their behavior overnight. But we think as they continue to develop, if we can create some bilateral trust, they will begin to see that a more open economy is actually in their interest, and that will advantage America.
QUESTION: We also have to see on the issue of security whether they’re going to do more to crack down on the North Korean nuclear program and stop undermining efforts to stop the Iranians from building nuclear weapons. Are we seeing any progress there, because it doesn’t seem like it from the outside?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think I see it a little differently. On Iran, for example, China joined with us in the tough sanctions. The Israelis just said about a week or so ago that they see a slowdown in the Iranian program. We believe that sanctions have had an impact. In North Korea, they also joined with us on sanctions.
So I think you have to look at the steps that we have taken to date and the fact that we need to be doing more. We are still —
QUESTION: You don’t believe they’re undermining the sanctions in Iran?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We think that there are some entities within China that we have brought to the attention of the Chinese leadership that are still not as, shall we say, as in compliance as we would like them to be. And we are pushing very hard on that and we may be proposing more unilateral sanctions.
Now, the Chinese response is they are enforcing the sanctions they agreed to in the Security Council; they did not agree to either European, American, or Japanese sanctions that were imposed unilaterally. Our response to that is, look, we share the same goal, we need to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state; so therefore, even though technically you did not sign up to our unilateral sanctions, we expect you to help us implement them. Because what is the alternative? Some kind of conflict in the Persian Gulf which would disrupt oil supplies, which would have a terrible impact on your economy? So it’s that kind of very clear-eyed, realistic discussion that we are having. And I think that we’ve made progress, we have a ways to go.
And similarly with North Korea, we have the same goal – the Chinese and the U.S.: We want a denuclearized, peaceful, stable Korean Peninsula. The Chinese have, obviously, many more years of experience in dealing with the North Koreans. They are very straightforward in saying here’s what we think you, South Korea, and Japan need to do to try to change their behavior. Well, we are exploring their recommendations and we are giving our own recommendations. But we’re engaged in a very intense discussion about this.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about Vice President Cheney. He gave an interview where he said – where he wondered whether President Obama has the absolute commitment to stopping another terror attack that both he – he said – and President Bush had. What do you make of that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that is really unfortunate language. I was certainly taken aback by it. I don’t know how anyone who was in the White House before or now could doubt any president’s absolute commitment to stopping the terrorists from attacking us. And I think you’ve seen in the last two years that President Obama and our entire team is single-mindedly focused on that, and we’ve had some successes in preventing terrorists from wreaking havoc on our own country and working with our friends and allies around the world.
I don’t think it’s useful to make such a statement and I certainly reject it completely.
QUESTION: Let me ask you a question coming out of that tragedy in Tucson. It’s pretty clear that Americans are fed up with the tone of our political discourse. We just had a poll at ABC News showing 82 percent don’t like the tone right now. You’ve been in the middle of the political fray for so long, I’m just wondering if you had any concrete ideas on how we might ratchet down the rhetoric. And for example, if you were still in the Senate, would you sit next to Republicans at the State of the Union?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. I think that it may be a symbolic action, but symbolism matters. And I think we need to be doing more of that. I also think we have to be very careful about demonizing what are political disagreements by personalizing the people who hold different views. And I think everybody in politics, as I have been, gets carried away in the heat of the moment from time to time, and maybe says things about the person as opposed to the policy that we would think better of the next day.
So I think we need to continue to hold the opinions – that goes back to the beginning of our great debate in this country. And certainly we don’t all agree on the best way forward, whether it’s economics or any other issue, but let’s try to keep it on the policy. And one of the things that I regret, George, is what I call an evidence-free zone in our political debate, where people say things without ever being held accountable. And I don’t care whether it comes from one side or the other; if people make statements that are factually untrue in order to push their political point, there needs to be some way, through the media or elsewhere, to really call them on it.
Because let’s have a legitimate, fact-based debate. We all love our country. We all know that our country has some challenges. We want to maintain the standard of living. We want to create jobs. We want to give our children the same kind of future that we inherited when it was passed on to us by our parents and grandparents. And so let’s come to the table with that sense of good faith and sincere commitment, and let’s have a civil conversation where, yes, we can have differences, but we search for common ground.
QUESTION: We’re out of time. One final question. You seem awfully fulfilled on the professional front. How are you doing on the grandmother front?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, I will only get in trouble however I respond to that, but let me just say I love babies so maybe I’ll have more in my life someday. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, good luck with that. Madame Secretary, thanks so much for your time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks, George. Good to talk to you.
And NBC’s Today Show:
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QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, good morning to you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, good morning, Meredith. It’s great to talk to you again.
QUESTION: Great to talk to you as well. You have described the relationship between our countries as being at a critical juncture. What do you mean, Madam Secretary?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Meredith, obviously the United States and China, as the first and second largest economies in the world, as two of the biggest participants in what’s going on globally about economic recovery, and in so many other ways, are forging a relationship for the future. And in the last two years we have worked very hard to make it clear we want a positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship that doesn’t paper over the differences, because indeed we have them, but tries to put the relationship on a very steady foundation that will enable us to work together on regional and global issues as well as to build a solid working relationship between the two of us.
QUESTION: The Administration has been accused in the past of bullying the Chinese, and critics have said that’s the wrong approach to take. Are we changing our strategy when it comes to how we deal with the Chinese Government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve read commentaries who say that we’re too hard, we’re too soft, and in part I think it reflects how challenging it is to make sure that we stand up for our values, stand up for our interests, yet look for common ground wherever we can find it with China, because this will be one of the most consequential relationships of the 21st century.
And I think on so many of the strategic and economic issues, the last two years really are a good news story. Can you imagine how we would have navigated through the economic crisis if President Obama had not been very forward-leaning in working with the Chinese both bilaterally and through the G-20 to try to chart a very steady course. We are recovering. We’re making progress. We have a ways to go, but the world economy, thankfully, did not fall in to the deeper recession and even depression that so many people were worried about.
On strategic issues, we worked very hard to find a way forward with the Chinese to impose sanctions on Iran and to impose sanctions on North Korea. That wasn’t easy for them in either case because they get a lot of their energy in the past from Iran and they sit on the border with North Korea. But we spent a lot of time working through the challenges that we faced, and we appreciate the leadership that China showed.
Similarly on climate change, in both Copenhagen and Cancun, despite the fact that we are at different levels of development, we were able to begin to put together a framework agreement for us to deal with the challenge posed by climate change.
Now, we have a long way to go. We’ve got to work harder to make sure that China’s market is open to our American businesses, that our intellectual property is protected, that their currency is valued appropriately —
QUESTION: Well, how do you do that, because they’re not inclined to go along with those things?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but I think it’s partly putting yourself in a position to see what their needs are. I mean, this is a country of, what, 1.3 billion people. In the last 30 years of our normalized relations, they have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. They’re trying to increase the standard of living and bring development to the entire rural area of this big country. They have their own view of history and of the future they’re trying to chart.
So we have to be at least open to hearing from them about what their concerns are, and in return we expect them to be open to us. So we created in the Obama Administration what we call the Strategic and Economic Dialogue which brought together discussions that had been occurring at different parts of our government into one overall dialogue, so that it’s not just leaders talking to each other every six or eight months, but it works through the entire government so that we begin to build some understanding, some trust, some cooperation.
And I think that that’s a really important commitment that we’re making, because we think it’s in America’s interest to work on this relationship and to try to make it as positive as possible.
QUESTION: Two things. What needs to be accomplished – needs to be accomplished – over the next couple of days? And if we don’t get it right in terms of our policy vis-à-vis China, could we be headed toward another cold war, which is what some people are predicting could happen?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we hope to avoid that, because we don’t think that’s in America’s interests. We want to have an open trading system. We want to have a lot of interchanges between our two countries. We’ll be announcing additional people-to-people measures, because it’s not just between governments. We want to see more cooperation on the economic front. We want to see more cooperation dealing with the very thorny problem of North Korea, its nuclear ambitions, its provocative behavior that is destabilizing Northeast Asia. And we want to continue to build those ties of understanding and trust, because we’re going to disagree on Tibet, on Taiwan, on human rights. We know that. They know that. And they’re going to disagree with us because they’re going to say you need to do more on your own economy, on your own competitiveness, in order to be able to raise your own standard of living.
So we do have differences of opinion that we bring to this meeting with President Hu Jintao, but overall I think we’re making steady progress. It may not be as fast as some people want, but I think we have to chart a steady course and stay on it and never forget that we stand for American interests and American values. They stand for Chinese interests and Chinese values. We don’t want a zero-sum relationship. We want to look for as many win-win opportunities as we can, because this relationship is going to, in many ways, determine the peace and stability and prosperity of the 21st century.
QUESTION: You mentioned human rights, Madam Secretary. Back in 2009, you warned that human rights concerns would not be allowed to interfere – I believe is the word you used – with U.S.-Chinese relations. You were criticized for that. You fast-forward to last Friday and you urged China to free several dissidents, including the most recent Nobel Peace Prize recipient. So has your position changed? Will human rights take top priority when it comes to relations with China?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I mean, human rights is at the heart of American diplomacy, but it is not the only issue that we discuss with the Chinese. My position hasn’t changed at all. It will always be in the dialogue that we have. It will be raised privately. It will be raised publicly. But we also have many other issues. Think back to 2009 when the world was tottering on the brink of either a deeper recession or maybe even a depression; we had to right our economic ship and we had to get the world to work together in order to achieve that. So of course, in my very first meeting with the Chinese, I raised human rights issues. But we focused on economic issues. We focused on strategic issues as well, because those were pressing and had to be dealt with.
So I think it’s important to look at what we’re trying to establish: a positive relationship, a cooperative one and a comprehensive one. And we will always raise human rights. That’s who we are as a nation. That’s what we stand for. But we’re not going to only talk about these issues, as important as they are, because we have many, many concerns that can only be dealt with through an open, ongoing dialogue with the Chinese.
QUESTION: I want to move on to Iran and nuclear weapons. There are reports from Israeli officials that Iran could have the ability to deploy nuclear weapons within the next four years. Now, you say that sanctions have worked in terms of delaying Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon, but nobody is talking about stopping them from doing it. So is a nuclear Iran an inevitability?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all. And I think it was very important what the Israelis said a few days ago that because of the international efforts, which the United States has been leading, we have delayed the nuclear program of Iran, which gives us more of a breathing space to try to work to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon, to change their strategic calculation. In fact, at the end of this week, there will be another meeting of the so-called P-5+1, which are the major permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and the European Union, with representatives of Iran to continue the conversation that we have had with them.
It’s very clear that the international community, including China, Russia, the Middle East, the Arab nations, are all united in our commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. And that will continue to be our priority.
QUESTION: I want to move on to something that Vice President Cheney – former Vice President Cheney said on our program yesterday in an interview. He was asked about President Obama and Obama’s political future. This is a little bit of what he had to say: “His overall approach to expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit – those are all weaknesses, as I look at Barack Obama. And I think he’ll be a one-term president.”
Beyond the laughter, what is your response do that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am pleased that former Vice President Cheney is healthy and resuming public activities, but I could not disagree with him more. I don’t think that’ll surprise anyone who is watching your program, Meredith. We inherited an enormous deficit. Let’s put a little bit of reality into this conversation.
When my husband left office, we had a balanced budget, we had a surplus, we were on the path to even eliminating the federal debt had we stayed on that path. Unfortunately, the Bush-Cheney Administration chose a different fiscal approach which left an enormous budget deficit and an increased debt for President Obama. I think President Obama has been playing the hand that he was dealt by the Bush-Cheney Administration very well indeed, rescuing not just the American economy but the global economy, beginning to deal with a lot of our long-term competitive challenges.
So clearly, it’s a diametrically opposed view, but I think both history and reality are on the side of the description I just gave you.
QUESTION: Well, will you be a one-term Secretary of State?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I am very pleased to be working in this position now, but I have said on many different occasions I am looking forward to returning to private life, something that I haven’t had the experience of for a long time now. And I am proud to serve this President. I think we’ve made a real difference in restoring American leadership and credibility around the world. But I do look forward to having a little more spare time and a few more hours just to take a deep breath, which seems kind of hard to have in this job.
QUESTION: Do we expect that anytime soon you might announce that you’re planning to retire, like Defense Secretary Gates?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I have committed to President Obama that I will stay with him this first term, and I intend to do so.
QUESTION: How about the second term?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that is not something I’m in any way committing to or even thinking about. And by the way, if Secretary Gates is watching, I sure hope he’ll stay and stay as long as he possibly can. He’s a great colleague and a great leader and has served our country very well. And we’ve got some turbulent waters to navigate through, and it would be great to have him still at the helm of the Defense Department.
QUESTION: Well, right now he says he plans to retire this year. So if you were offered his job and you were the first female Defense Secretary, would you take it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first I’m doing my very best, as I just shamelessly did on this program, to convince him not to retire and to stay —
QUESTION: (Inaudible) not going to work.
SECRETARY CLINTON: — to stay at least until the very end of 2011.
QUESTION: All righty. Well, on that note, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I thank you for your time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great to talk to you, Meredith. Thank you.
QUESTION: You, too. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Bye.