Clinton in Beijing for talks with China

Beijing: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing today for annual strategic and economic talks, made complicated and difficult due to a row over a blind Chinese human rights activist who sought protection at the US embassy. Clinton`s visit also comes at a time when there is renewed tension in the South China Sea over China`s dispute with US-ally Philippines over an island claimed by both countries.

Significantly, Clinton arrived a day in advance before the two-day talks, scheduled to commence tomorrow, as the two countries grapple to resolve tensions over the entry of Chen Guangcheng into US Embassy premises here few days ago. The week-long drama over the dissident, who claimed to have escaped 20 months of house arrest at his village in Shandong province before seeking US protection, ended hours after Clinton reached Beijing.

Chen left the US embassy where he had taken refuge for the past six days, and the state-run Xinhua news agency said he had left on his volition. "This round of strategic and economic dialogue (SED) is the most complicated and difficult one since it was started in 2009 due to thorny issues," Shi Yinhong, director of Centre of American Studies at the Renmin University of China said. Before leaving for Beijing, Clinton told the media that she will raise human rights issues.

"I can certainly guarantee that we will be discussing every matter including human rights that is pending between us," Clinton said. She, however, did not directly refer to Chen`s issue. US President Barack Obama too declined to comment on the issue. "Obviously, I am aware of the press reports on the situation in China, but I am not going to make a statement on the issue," he said on Monday.

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