Former US president Bill Clinton kicked off his first charitable conference abroad in Hong Kong yesterday after he agreed to greater oversight of his foundation to pave the way for his wife Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s appointment by president-elect Barack Obama as secretary of state.
The two-day Clinton Global Initiative in Hong Kong marks the first time the former US leader has held his annual charitable conference overseas — but it also will be the last while his wife holds her new job.
Bill Clinton’s international business connections posed potential conflicts of interest for his wife’s post, and as part of the deal for her appointment, he agreed to stop holding the meetings overseas and to refuse donations from foreign governments.
He also agreed to disclose every donor to his foundation since its inception in 1997, step away from the day-to-day running of the foundation, and allow Obama’s administration to review his speaking schedule and new sources of income.
Bill Clinton did not mention his wife’s appointment or how it would affect his charity work in his opening remarks at the Hong Kong conference, but foreign officials attending the first panel discussion offered their congratulations.
“As a woman, I am very proud of her,” Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said.
“I’m looking forward to our working together so the already strong relationship between the United States and the Philippines will become even stronger,” Arroyo said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) said he is “looking forward to a very good working relationship.”
Discussions at the Hong Kong conference will focus on education, energy and climate change and public health issues in Asia.