Transcript: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 'This Week'

STEPHANOPOULOS: This week is also the anniversary of -- the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square, and you put out a very strong statement on that anniversary. Yet when you went to China earlier this year, you basically said the Chinese know what we think about human rights.

And I guess what I'm trying to get at is, how do you approach that issue? When do public statements make a difference? When should diplomacy be conducted privately? And who's your real audience with these statements?

CLINTON: You know, George, it's such a great question. And there is no one easy answer, because I think so much of it depends upon what our objectives are.

We have made very clear, time and time again, our concerns about religious freedom in China, treatment of Tibet, Tibetan culture. So that is -- we're on the record with that. We've had these, you know, very strong statements that we've made historically, going back years.

And so, of course, we want everyone to know that we still feel very strongly about it, but we also would like to see if there is some way we could actually chip away at Chinese resistance to providing some more at least cultural and religious autonomy for Tibetans. So we -- it's a constant weighing process.

You know, I think a lot of times the public statements can turn out to be counterproductive. They can harden positions. Yet at the same time, the public statements can hearten those who are the dissidents.

So trying to keep that in balance so that we don't ever turn our backs on those who are struggling for the very rights that we believe in so strongly and that we think are universal rights, and yet looking for ways that we can actually get results, not just score debating points or, you know, have somebody say, "Good for you. You made a strong statement."

So what we're trying to do -- and I think you hear it from what the president and I have been saying over the last four months -- is to really focus in on where we can make progress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A year ago, you bowed out of the presidential campaign, very graceful speech.


CLINTON: Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, it was a bitter campaign. And I'm just wondering: How did President Obama convince you to come on his team?

CLINTON: Well, you know, George, I never had any -- any dream, let alone inkling, that I would end up in President Obama's cabinet. When I left the presidential race, after getting some sleep and taking some deep breaths, I immediately went to work for him in the general election.

I, you know, traveled the country. I worked hard on my supporters. I made the case, which I believed strongly, in making sure that we elected him our president.

And I was looking forward to going back to the Senate and, frankly, going back to my life and representing New York, which I love. And I had no idea that he had a different plan in mind. So when -- when...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Since the primaries.

CLINTON: Well, but I had -- I mean, that was certainly never expected. And after the election, I started seeing little, you know, tidbits in the press. I thought it was absurd. I thought, you know, this is the kind of silly stuff that ends up in the press.

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