British concern over Clinton's election pledges

BILL CLINTON, the front runner for the US presidency, has alarmed the British government with an aggressive policy on human rights in China and with promises to Irish-American voters that he will appoint a special peace envoy for Northern Ireland if elected.

The Government is concerned that a tougher US policy on trade with China would have a disastrous impact on Hong Kong and, by extension, British business interests. Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, who met China's foreign minister in New York, went on to question prominent Democrats and foreign policy experts on Mr Clinton's intentions towards China before leaving New York for Geneva.

Mr Clinton has previously savaged President George Bush's position on trade with China, asserting that he had 'let his friendships in China obscure what those kids did in Tiananmen Square'.

In a separate, but no less un- nerving, concern for the Government, Mr Clinton has reiterated that he is committed to intruding in the politics of Northern Ireland, by appointing a special 'peace envoy'. He told supporters and journalists in New York recently: 'I want you to know that I am committed to Irish issues such as the special envoy and that I intend to deliver on them. Tell your readers the Irish will have a friend in the White House.'

The special envoy proposal is not expected to be welcomed either in Dublin or London, where there is concern about the impact of Irish-American activists on US policy towards Northern Ireland.

But Mr Clinton's overture to the sizeable bloc of Irish-American voters is well thought out, as he tries to woo back many former Democratic voters who have voted Republican in the last three elections. The so-called 'Reagan Democrats' are now disillusioned with Republican politics because of the severity of the economic recession. Many of these key voters are Irish-Americans, and Mr Clinton has made a conscious effort to court them.

Ray Flynn, Boston's mayor, has been campaigning to become the special peace envoy for Ireland, and he accompanied the presidential candidate on his recent visit to New York. Others have suggested that the former president Jimmy Carter might be appointed. When Mr Clinton first raised the issue six months ago, he said: 'I support a peace envoy. We've been a little reluctant to relay our interests in a positive way because of two reasons: our long-standing relationship with Great Britain and also the perception that this situation in Northern Ireland is a very thorny problem.' Albert Reynolds, the Irish prime minister, poured cold water on the idea in a recent interview, in which he said that the appointment was not necessary while talks were going on in Northern Ireland.

Many remain sceptical that as president, Mr Clinton would live up to his promises. One diplomat said: 'A lot of things get said in an election race but when the hard reality of the presidency comes, the plans tend to evaporate.'

Voters' priorities, page 10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ofsted said "A good larger...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London