Mitchell Reports | May 04, 2012
>>> and joining me now, former u.s. ambassador christopher hill who served as assistant secretary of state for east asian and pacific affairs and the key envoy in the north korean negotiations dealing with china on a daiily basis. it's great to have you here. your experience dealing with the chinese, this was a crisis because it was the meet is, the annual meeting in beijing . you had all of the issues, including north korea , iran, syria, and the economic issues with secretary geithner all on the table and the embassy perhaps moved too quickly. he said he wanted to leave. so we know from his own tweets and his own words that he wanted to leave but did he change his mind. but was there sort of a bum's rush to get him out so that he was no longer an american problem?
>> i don't know. first of all i'd like to say that the team who has apparently been able to make this deal, i mean, this was a tough thing to do. you're in the middle of beijing . emotions are running high on everybody's part. i mean, we have a person who has been in prison for four years, been under really intense surveillance for some months after that. so it wasn't easy at all. so i think we have to kind of judge this thing by its results to some extent and by the fact that we're dealing with a chinese government that really, really takes you know, takes to heart when people try to deal with them in china with respect to their own citizens. so this was a tough issue. and i think we ought to give some credit to the fact that it seems to be heading in the right direction now.
>> i was with hillary clinton on her first trip to beijing in 2009 when she seemed to downplay human rights . there has been some criticism that the administration, the push/pull always is human rights more important than the economy. what about this balance and the fact that we had to give the chinese some sort of face-saving solution. what state department officials are saying is they are even surprised, frankly, that the chinese were willing to go along with the summit despite this eruption.
>> right. first of all, the number of foreign students in the united states of chinese students are number one. we will have something like 160,000, 170,000 chinese students here. so the idea that perhaps he could pursue his studies in the u.s. is not unheard of.
>> he's not asking for political asylum.
>> no, in fact, when you apply for a student visa , it's on the basis that you want to return to your country. it is not aim grant visa. it's an application for a temporary visa to study. let me just make a point about secretary clinton and frankly secretary rice, her predecessor. both of them have raised human rights repeatedly in all of their meetings in beijing . i've seen both of them do that. and i was with secretary clinton in that early trip to china . the issue is how do you raise it? do you do it publicly? do you try to do it at the end of meetings by getting people out of the room, going through lists of disdenies asking for progress on these issues? in fact, are you trying to go for sort of results oriented policy? i think that's generally what our senior people have done. so i really can't subscribe to the view that secretary clinton somehow didn't care about human rights .
>> how complicated is it that mitt romney in the middle of all this came out criticizing the administration saying it was a day of shame if the reports were true? doesn't that in the middle of these delicate negotiations complicate it?
>> i've always tried to avoid interfering in someone's internal fairs including our own, but i would like to pay a little more respect maybe to the people out there dealing with a very tough issue, very emotional issue. not at all clear what they could get out of this issue. a lot of things could have gone very, very badly. and so i think people kind of stuck with it. i'm not sure today's really a good day to criticize these people. i would give them some credit. you can argue maybe the supply of hugging may it be exceeded the demand, but i think overall, they did a pretty good job.
>> a big picture with everything else we know, bow gee lie and the other problems china is experiencing, is this a victory potentially for the wen group, the reformers or is that perhaps too much of a generalization?
>> deal of early tor finger on it. these are really tumultuous times independence china . now, we often judge china by its foreign policy actions, you know, what's it doing on sudan, on north korea . but in fact, what chinese leaders are very much focused on is internal issues, whether the chinese communist party needs if fundamental changes. there are a lot of corruption issues they cannot sweep under the rug. these are very, very difficult times in china on domestic issues.
>> chris hill , thank you so much.