Courting the Chinese people, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to make the case Saturday for greater cooperation and partnership between the two countries as a difficult diplomatic assignment approached: winning Beijing's support for punishing ally North Korea.
She faces a hard sell convincing China's leaders that they should back U.N. penalties after an international investigation blamed North Korea for sinking a South Korean navy ship. China is North Korea's primary ally and financial supporter. Beijing has been neutral on the conclusions of the report.
The downed ship is crowding out all else on her agenda, even the high-level strategic and economic talks between the U.S. and China on Monday and Tuesday that were the main thrust of her trip. Clinton and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are heading the Obama administration's team of nearly 200 officials.