Clinton Seen as Example for Women

February 22, 2009
By Lin ShujuanEditor: huangjuan

For most Chinese women, visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton needs no further introduction.

Bill and Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea visit the Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi province, on June 26, 1998, during an official trip to China when Bill Clinton was US president. Wu Zhiyi Inset: The Clintons tour the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, 79 km northeast of Beijing, on June 28, 1998. [China News Service]

In their eyes, the 61-year-old former US first lady, who made a serious bid to become America's first female president last year, has created an image of strength, tenacity, power and wisdom for the women of the world.

"She has made a good example that women have the right and the power to make a difference and change the world," said Hong Huang - daughter of late Chairman Mao's English teacher Zhang Hanzhi - who is now one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Chinese print media and a celebrity blogger.

"I think she is fantastic even though I haven't got around to reading her autobiography," said Hong, referring to 2003's "Living History", which has become a major bestseller in China.

Clinton started to attract attention from the Chinese media in 1995, when she directed the US delegation at the UN Women's Conference in Beijing.

Xie Lihua, a former journalist and now a prominent women's advocate, was present. That was Xie's first encounter with Clinton. In the following years she had the opportunity to meet Clinton three times in person.

In 1998 when Clinton joined her husband's first official presidential visit to China, Xie, along with a few others, was invited for a face-to-face discussion on China's progress in promoting women's rights.

"I sat next to her and made a 15-minute speech," recalled Xie. "She listened earnestly, and smilingly told me that my work was very important and significant. When she shook my hands to say goodbye, her eyes brimmed with force and wisdom."

In 1999, when Xie visited the US at the invitation of the US government, Clinton received Xie at the White House. By 2007, when Clinton presented the 2007 Annual Leadership Award of Vital Voices to Xie, she was the first female senator from New York.

For many Chinese women, the image of Hillary Clinton is caught up with the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to the impeachment of her husband in 1998.

"What she had been through struck a chord with Chinese women who would cite the old saying - 'It is hard to be a human being, but harder to be a woman,'" said Vien Chang, a New York-based Chinese student. "I had enormous respect for her in that she had handled it with great dignity. "

However, Chang admits, at times she feels that Clinton is "too smart, too capable and too ambitious to be human."

In Hong's words, "only a woman committed to a set of ideas and principles can make it to the finishing line."

"She is a woman with strong determination," said Hong.

(Source: China Daily)

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