Hillary Clinton allegedly told attendees at multiple private speeches that she believed Chinese President Xi Jinping was a “sophisticated” and “effective” leader and it was “good news” for America that he was working to “assert his authority” over the People’s Liberation Army.
Wikileaks published an extensive database of what the organization claims are excerpts from a variety of speeches Clinton gave after she left the office of Secretary of State in 2013. In several speeches that year, Clinton referred to Xi, who took office in late 2012, as a promising new leader for the communist country, particularly when compared to predecessor Hu Jintao.
“The new president of China is a much more sophisticated actor than his predecessor. He lived in the United States for a short period of time, actually lived in Iowa on a — on a farm. He was working in agricultural issues within the Communist party, you know, about 30 years ago. He is a better politician than his immediate predecessor, Hu Jintao,” Clinton is quoted as saying in a speech allegedly given to the CME group in November 2013, a year after he took office.
The remarks echo a similar quotation from June of that year, where Wikileaks cites Clinton as saying, “He’s a more sophisticated, more effective public leader than Hu Jintao was. He is political in the kind of generic sense of that word. You can see him work a room, which I have watched him do. You can have him make small talk with you, which he has done with me.”
In that same speech – remarks at a Goldman Sachs event, according to Wikileaks – Clinton praised Xi for “doing much more to try to assert his authority” over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese military. She allegedly argued that Hu had “never really captured the authority over the PLA that is essential for any government,” turning the PLA into something of a loose cannon “making some foreign policy” independent of the civilian authority of Beijing.
“So President Xi is doing much more to try to assert his authority, and I think that is also good news,” she reportedly said.
Since Xi took office, the PLA has been significantly more active in the South China Sea, where Xi’s government claims territory belonging to Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. A verdict from the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has done nothing to deter China from continuing to construct military facilities and artificial islands on territory it has no legal sovereignty over in the region.
In that same speech, Clinton accused the PLA of supporting North Korea, which China has been more vocal in condemning during Xi’s tenure, though China remains Pyongyang’s biggest trade partner and benefactor. “The biggest supporters of a provocative North Korea has been the PLA. The deep connections between the military leadership in China and in North Korea has really been the mainstay of the relationship,” Wikileaks quotes Clinton as saying:
So now all of a sudden new leadership with Xi and his team, and they’re saying to the North Koreans—and by extension to the PLA—no. It is not acceptable. We don’t need this right now. We’ve got other things going on. So you’re going to have to pull back from your provocative actions, start talking to South Koreans again about the free trade zones, the business zones on the border, and get back to regular order and do it quickly.
Since Wikileaks claims Clinton made those remarks, praising Xi for getting tough on North Korea, dictator Kim Jong-un has conducted two more nuclear tests. After the earlier of the two, which occurred in January, the Chinese government claimed that containing North Korea was “a U.S. obligation” and that “‘the U.S. should not always try to outsource its problems to China.”
The Clinton campaign has not categorically denied the veracity of the documents. Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine said he had “no way of knowing the accuracy of documents dumped by this hacking organization” on CNN. “I don’t think we can dig in documents dumped by WikiLeaks and just assume they’re all accurate and true.”