Then the first lady, Clinton’s address proved a bombshell.
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Flying across the Pacific on an Air Force jet bound for Beijing, first lady Hillary Clinton huddled deep into the night with a few aides and advisers, honing her speech for the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women.It also stands out as a moment Clinton began to truly forge an identity as a public figure on the world stage apart from her husband.While Clinton was no stranger to the subject she addressed – she had long been an advocate for women and children – the Beijing speech would set a course for the issues with which she would be involved for the rest of her career, especially as secretary of state, says Verveer, who later served as the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women's issues.A few months earlier, Chinese-American dissident Harry Wu had been arrested upon entering China and charged with espionage, throwing the participation of the U.S. delegation and Clinton, its honorary chair, into limbo. He was finally released less than a month before the conference; Clinton writes that there was "never a quid pro quo". Writer Andi Zeisler was in her early 20s at the time, and she remembers news of the Beijing speech coming in stark contrast to more negative coverage of Hillary Clinton, especially when her husband was running for president.Reminders of the moment have arisen often in Clinton's global travels, Verveer says.
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