Hillary Clinton Gets Personal in China, Discussing Daughter’s Wedding in TV Interview
The U.S. Secretary of State turned on the charm in Beijing Tuesday, taking a break from intense strategic and economic talks with Chinese leaders in order to spend some time promoting people-to-people exchanges between America and China.
With high-level officials from both countries grappling with differences over North Korea, Iran and a host of financial and trade issues, Clinton used a series of public events to stress the importance of cross-cultural understanding, offering up details of her own family experiences.
In an interview with China Central Television, Clinton spoke proudly of the upcoming marriage of her daughter, Chelsea, and explained the American concept of bridal showers to a Chinese audience.
"It is not where you go in and have a shower, it is where friends of the bride and family come together and you give gifts to the bride and you tell stories and you show pictures of when she was a little girl," she told the host. "There will be a lot of that activity" before Chelsea Clinton marries longtime beau Marc Mezvinsky this summer, she said.
"We are looking forward to it," she said of the wedding. "It is something that every mother dreams of. And so for me it's ... the most important activity going on in my life now, I have to confess. Don't tell anybody that but it is such an enjoyable and exciting time for our family."
Her comments drew approving coos and applause from the studio audience.
Appearing on another program aired by Hong Kong's Phoenix television on Tuesday, Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner, the U.S. co-chairs of the official talks, sounded like a comedy team at times as they spoke about their movie-going and hair-care habits, the importance of child-rearing and nutrition, and other non-controversial topics.
"I think I was complimenting him on his hair," Clinton said of the youthful-looking Geithner when the host of that program showed them a photo of the two speaking at a Cabinet meeting. "He always looks so good, you know? It's maddening."
"It takes me so much longer, and it doesn't even look as good," she said.
Geithner protested when the host -- Chen Luyu, often referred to as China's Oprah -- told him she had heard from many Americans that he is "one of the best-looking guys in the (Obama) administration."
"That can't be true, can't be true," Geithner said, before a laughing Clinton interjected.
"I have it on very good authority that that's true," she said.
Despite several attempts by Clinton and Geithner to turn the conversation to more serious matters, Chen seemed determined to focus on the personal. Asked about her cinema tastes, Clinton revealed that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have "an ongoing negotiation" about what to see.
"My husband prefers the action movies, the more violence, the better, and I think it's kind of a male thing," she said to a sympathetic response from the host.
"Just take me to a movie, let me sit there and watch people shoot each other, and I don't find that relaxing at all," Clinton said. "I prefer the comedies, the romances, those kinds of movies. So we take turns. When I go to one of his movies, I shut my eyes a lot and listen to the music and the soundtrack.
"And when he goes to one of my movies, he falls asleep a lot," she said. "So it works out pretty well for us."
But Tuesday wasn't all interviews.
At China's National Performing Arts Center, a massive, gleaming egg-shaped dome near Tiananmen Square, Clinton presided over the first meeting of a committee that will help oversee a program, known as "100,000 Strong," to send 100,000 American students to study in China over the next four years.
"This relationship must extend beyond the halls of government to our homes, businesses and schools," she said. "We need Chinese and Americans of all ages, professions and walks of life to connect and collaborate."
Before being serenaded by Chinese and American exchange students with short musical performances, including Chinese opera, Clinton said the state of ties between the U.S. and China would shape much of how the world's approaches the 21st Century.
"What we do or fail to do together will impact the lives of people in our countries and many others," Clinton said. "Our success will be based on how well we understand each other, respect each other, trust each other and are open to learning from each other."