SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 7, 2012

Hilary snubbed in China

China’s next likely leader snubs Clinton

Former minister rejects her mediation proposal

By Barbara Demick                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LOS ANGELES TIMES

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others were                                                                                                                                                           stood up by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

BEIJING — In a short, frustrating visit to Beijing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was stood up yesterday by the future leader of China and delivered a stern lecture on China’s rights in the South China Sea.

Both China and the United States aired their differences about how to handle the uprising in Syria.
During the third stop in her nearly two-week sweep of Asia, Clinton had hoped to meet with Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to get the nod next month to succeed Hu Jintao as China’s president.

Xi also canceled meetings yesterday with Singapore’s prime minister and Russian officials, claiming a back injury. Nonetheless, the no-show at the session with Clinton was widely interpreted as a snub.

Before the visit, Chinese state media lashed out at Clinton, ridiculing what it said were her efforts to maintain American “hegemony” in the Pacific.
Beijing especially resents U.S. efforts to mediate China’s disputes with neighbors — Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, in particular — over competing claims to barren islets and reefs around its waters.

Yesterday, Clinton reiterated a proposal for a code of conduct to help countries resolve such disputes.   But she was shot down by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during a joint news conference in the Great Hall of the People. “The position of the Chinese government has been consistent and clear-cut. China has sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters,” he said in response to a question.

Expectations were low for the meetings, as China is nearly as paralyzed as the United States over domestic politics in a key transition year. Beijing is preparing for the 18th Communist Party congress, at which the new leadership should be named amid a swirl of political scandals.
Xi’s cancellation of his meetings yesterday triggered speculation that something is amiss with his candidacy, and censors blocked references to “back injury” on microblog sites.

Also yesterday, Wang Lijun, a police official, was formally charged with defection, power abuse, bribe-taking and dereliction of duty. Wang was accused of “bending the law for selfish ends,” the state-run New China News Agency reported.

Wang had sought refuge in a U.S. consulate early this year after uncovering evidence that British businessman Neil Heywood was murdered in China in November. Gu Kailai, the wife of a former Politburo member, was convicted of the killing last month and received a suspended death sentence.

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