• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 2:20am
Edward Snowden

Former US president Bill Clinton calls for mutual openness with China on spying

Ex-president says countries should build on 'skyscraper' relationship

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 5:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 10:57am

Washington and Beijing should be more open to each other on what and who they are spying on, former US president Bill Clinton said yesterday in a forum after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"China and America should commit to tell the whole truth of the listening we are doing to each other," Clinton said at a forum organised by the financial magazine Caijing, adding the debate surrounding whistle-blower Edward Snowden at least had prompted everyone to start thinking about the balance between privacy and security.

"I don't think you can do it in a closet any more," he said. The Snowden case, he said, "made me think that we are on the verge of having the worst of all worlds: we'll have no security and no privacy."

Clinton, who was president from 1993 to 2001, made the remarks after meeting Xi earlier in the day. He applauded the reform resolutions formulated at the Communist Party's third plenum last week.

During their meeting, Xi said Sino-US relations had generally moved in the right direction.

"With the joint efforts of generations of Chinese and US leaders, our relationship has become a skyscraper. We need to work together to keep building it," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Xi also said as long as the two major powers respected each other and achieved win-win co-operation, bilateral ties would have broader prospects.

In the question-and-answer session in a Beijing hotel during the Caijing forum, Clinton also appeared to voice support for his wife to run for US president.

"I hope we have a woman president in my lifetime, and I think it would be a good thing for the world as well as for America," Clinton said.

His wife, Hillary Clinton, has not declared whether she will seek nomination to become a candidate for the Democratic Party. She stepped down earlier this year as US secretary of state.

Clinton said he had no idea if his wife would make a White House run as "there is no such thing as a sure thing in politics", but she was "the ablest public servant I have ever worked with".

"If that's what she wants to do, I will support her. But if she decides for whatever reason she doesn't, I will support that," said Clinton.

He also defended the US policy to focus on Asia, which his wife helped implement in the first Obama administration.

"It's not a move against China, it's a move to build a shared future ...That's what we call a shared prosperity," said Clinton.


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"I don't think you can do it in a closet any more," he said. The Snowden case, he said, "made me think that we are on the verge of having the worst of all worlds: we'll have no security and no privacy."
Clinton’s timely visit during CCP’s third plenum dropping a few words at Caijing”s forum showed Clinton is an exceptional man. He has boundless intellect and homey understanding of issues. Clinton is the best recent president US has produced. He is also the best ex-president who ‘unfatiguely’ speaking for a cause. Yes, when he speaks, we listen. And I don’t mind he pitched cleverly Hillary to be the first woman president for the US. She deserves to be one on the same merits as her husband’s. This couple will be remembered fondly no matter what.
As optimistic as you seem to be, Clinton's remarks can only serve as an expression of hope for open relationship with China. The nature of spying is to deceive your opponents so to gain a decisive advantage - actionable intelligence. US has relied heavily on the use of technologies to gain strategic vantage of other nations' tactical activities both at home and abroad. On the other hand, China has employed tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of individuals to collect intelligence on a human level. This is a classic case of technologies verses human intelligence gathering and analysis. Both methods have their unique strengths and weaknesses, and I do not expect either side to discontinue what has worked for them previously. We will see greater precautions with communication and personnel security. Nevertheless, spying is here to stay.
Regarding a woman President in the US, it's not novel at all. We have experienced highly effective woman Presidents, Primer Ministers, Chancellor, Senators. Americans will elect a woman to be their President, perhaps it will be Hillary. She is most capable and experienced, deeply-knowledgeable of political chicaneries and covert-dealings required for the Office of President of the United States. Like her husband Bill and so many other esteemed Americans of positions and influences, she can be ruthless, cunning and deceptive. Essential ingredients of a great President and a spy. Both are necessary and important
Mayhap "The Clinton" is angling to sell more books, and does not hesitate to exaggerate..
I think the world would love to see the day that America owns up to ALL the info stealing done by America over the last 50 years, and the recompense that America intends to make.
Thank you for reading my post. Yes you are right I am optimistic. While spying will always be with us, the way to go about it with the advancement in technology, there may be an order that yet to be devised. Time will tell.
I thank you for sharing your thoughts.


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