The big dog was back in Beijing this week. And as usual, Bill Clinton was wowing the crowds. The former president met Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday and then made a public appearance at a forum organised by the business magazine Caijing. Nor was he short of Clintonesque quips, indicating his hopes of returning to the White House in 2016 with his wife Hillary if she decides to run for office.
“I hope we have a woman president in my lifetime,” he said. “I think it would be a good thing for the world as well as for America.”
Not surprisingly Clinton was keen to criticise the Republicans, blaming them for running up fiscal deficits that his own administration had largely eliminated. Much of this had only been possible due to China’s growing holdings of US government debt, which Clinton thought an odd state of affairs. As he told his audience: “You spent $1.2 trillion of your money and you helped finance my tax cut. How do you feel about that?”
Mindful of increasing tensions in the Asian region, Clinton also called for cooperation, not conflict. “In the history of our planet, the species that have triumphed are the cooperators. That’s ants and humans and termites and bees.”
Xi used a different analogy to reiterate the need to keep Sino-US relations positive: “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.”
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