China slapped back Monday after Hillary Clinton criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping for hosting a meeting on women’s rights at the United Nations while persecuting women’s rights activists in his own country. But this isn’t the first time the presidential candidate has seen criticism over her women’s rights record.

Earlier this year, Clinton came under fire when the Clinton Foundation acknowledged that it had failed to submit some foreign donations to the State Department for approval when she was confirmed as secretary of state in 2009. Republicans were quick to pounce on the reports, pointing out that the Clinton Foundation has accepted significant donations from countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, all of which have poor records on human rights and sex discrimination.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who is now a Republican candidate for president, called out Clinton for this contradiction. “She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” Fiorina said, according to Politico. “She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards — and neither will our president. Hillary likes hashtags. But she doesn’t know what leadership means.”

In Clinton’s tweet Sunday, she swung at Xi for a similar contradiction.


The hashtag in Clinton’s tweet refers to the FreeThe20 campaign, which focuses on raising awareness about 20 female political prisoners around the world. This group includes Chinese lawyer and activist Wang Yu, who was detained in July. Yu is known for defending five Chinese women who were jailed for protesting against sexual harassment.

Responding to Clinton’s tweet, the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times published a strong editorial Monday comparing Clinton to “the demagogue” Donald Trump. “It seems that Hillary, eager to keep a competitive edge in the game, has also resorted to these ignominious shenanigans,” the editorial said. “Despite her political acumen as former secretary of state and senator, she is using the language of Trump to cast herself in the role of a rabble-rouser.”

When criticisms of the Clinton Foundation arose earlier this year, former President Bill Clinton defended the family organization’s work by saying countries’ records on women’s rights were not the only factor in whether to accept their help. “Do we agree with everything they do? No,” Bill Clinton said in March. “You’ve got to decide when you do this work whether it will do more good than harm if someone helps you from another country.”

At the U.N. summit meeting Sunday, Xi promised several programs that would aim to help women and girls in developing countries. For example, China will host women from other countries to help them build skills in a program funded by China and the U.N.

"As the Chinese people pursue a happy life, every Chinese woman has the opportunities to excel in life and make their dream come true. China will do more to enhance gender equality as its basic state policy, give play to women's important role as 'half the sky' and support them in realizing their own dreams and aspiration in both career and life," Xi said.

Despite the criticism, advocacy for women continues to be a major issue for Hillary Clinton on her campaign trail. She tweeted a video Sunday night showing a variety of women and ending with a “Women for H” graphic.