Hillary Clinton's First Dig at China—in 1995

hillary 1995.jpgHillary Clinton's tough talk about China is striking, but not surprising.

While her professional political career dominated by America's 21st century wars -- the senator from New York during 9/11, a prominent vote in favor of invading Iraq, the secretary of State handling Afghanistan and Pakistan -- Clinton's first major foreign policy foray was in China.

In 1995 she traveled to a U.N. conference on women held in Beijing. In front of an audience of U.N. guests, international reporters, and government officials Clinton aimed at China in the crescendo of her speech.

"It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights," she said.

In her autobiography, Clinton said the goal of her trip was: "pushing the envelope" by being clear about the "injustice of the Chinese government's behavior" toward women. The government, Clinton wrote, had forced NGOs who supported women's causes like prenatal care to microlending to meet 40 miles away from the U.N. conference.

"Although I didn't mention China or any other country by name, there was little doubt about the egregious human rights violators to whom I was referring," Clinton wrote about her speech.

Later Clinton described how her words have followed her around the world.

"To this day, whenever I travel overseas, women come up to me quoting words from the Beijing speech or clutching copies they want me to autograph," she wrote.

Above: Clinton making her speech to the UN Fourth World Conference in Beijing on September 6, 1995. Getty Images.

Presented by

Justin Miller was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 to 2011. He is now the homepage editor at New York magazine. More

Justin Miller was a associate editor at The Atlantic. Previously he was an assistant editor at RealClearPolitics, a political reporter in Ohio, and a freelance journalist.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

A global look at the hardest and best job ever

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

More in Politics

Just In