On her first trip as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton spoke far more frankly than her predecessors about everything from North Korean leadership to the efficacy of US sanctions against Burma. As the Washington Post writes, the Asia trip showcased a blunter, more open style of American diplomacy. But veteran officials say Clinton violated some major taboos—such as implying that her discussions on human rights with China were largely meaningless.
"We pretty much know what they're going to say," Clinton conceded before her meeting in Beijing. That frank admission outraged many advocates who hoped for further international pressure on China, which the secretary of state found unwarranted. "I don't think it should be viewed as particularly extraordinary that someone in my position would say what's obvious," she said.