Barack Obama confronts a situation in which his nation is economically damaged and militarily exhausted making him less able to take aggressive stands in support of human rights. Several leading human rights groups are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be firm in her meetings with Chinese officials about the situation of human rights in that nation. Human Rights told her fighting for human rights would send “a signal” to Beijing although it is doubtful if such comments would elicit anything other than anger and hostility. Years ago when she was a senator, Clinton spoke at conferences that it is the “duty of all governments to respect the fundamental human rights of women and men.” Those words were then, today, she is secretary of state of a nation that is experiencing economic collapse.
Hillary Clinton is now secretary of state and is not an individual senator who can freely speak her mind. The United States has limited leverage on the Chinese government and it is not likely she can do anything other than express some quiet pleasant words.