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Clinton comments on human rights blocked in China, group says

July 11, 2012 |  8:16 pm

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A Chinese microblogging site has blocked remarks on human rights made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Mongolia, according to a Hong Kong group that monitors Chinese media.

The China Media Project, based at the University of Hong Kong, spotted that a post on the Sina Weibo site quoting Clinton had been deleted Wednesday morning. The Monday speech at the International Women’s Leadership Forum was widely regarded as an implied jab at Beijing, effusively praising the power of democracy while Chinese pundits have cautioned that too much democracy could destabilize the region.

“Their first argument is that democracy threatens stability. But in fact, democracy fosters stability,” Clinton said in Ulan Bator, not detailing who "they” were. “It is true that clamping down on political expression or maintaining a tight grip on what people read or say or see can create the illusion of security, but illusions fade because people’s yearning for liberty do not.”

Clinton said reforms in Myanmar and the Philippines “stand in stark contrast to those governments that continue to resist reforms, that work around the clock to restrict people’s access to ideas and information, to imprison them for expressing their views …”

“Who is Hillary talking about?” a user of the Sina Weibo site user mused before quoting from the speech. 

China's official New China News Agency mentioned none of the pointed remarks in its coverage of the speech, reporting that Clinton had "urged all governments to help women find their roles in their societies."

Clinton has made recent stops in Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos as part of the Obama administration's strategic pivot toward Asia, a move meant to offset the increasing muscle of China and build closer economic and political ties in the region. To prove its dedication, the U.S. has devoted more face time to meetings and summits in Asia, gaining greater credibility with regional powers.

The secretary of State has talked up the importance of human rights and democracy on her trip and prodded Vietnam about jailed bloggers and activists. But while her words in Mongolia may have been too pointed for Sina Weibo censors, others complain there has been little pressure behind the bold rhetoric.

“So what, in the end, is the United States specifically doing to support democracy in Asia? I can't really point to much that's substantial or concrete,” wrote Christian Caryl, a senior fellow at the London-based Legatum Institute, in a recent piece in Foreign Policy magazine. “Talk is cheap.”

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers closing remarks to the International Women's Leadership Forum during a visit to Ulan Bator on Monday. Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

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