The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum was convened at the East-West Centre, where Clinton extended her welcome to a "thriving China", but pressed President Hu Jintao on Beijing's iron-fisted stance on human rights issues involving Tibet and the issue of a certain blind activist, Chen.
"When we see reports of lawyers, artists and others who are detained or 'disappeared,' the United States speaks up both publicly and privately," commented Clinton at the forum, right before a scheduled meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi.
Clinton said superpower US was "alarmed by recent incidents in Tibet of young people lighting themselves on fire in desperate acts of protest, as well as the continued house arrest of the Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng."
The Chinese-controlled Sichuan province has seen 11 self-immolations in a span of 8 months, at least 6 of the Tibetans having succumbed to their injuries. The trend of fire has spread itself over Asia, inspiring recent self-immolation attempts in India and Nepal by exiled Tibetans protesting against Chinese rule.
"We continue to call on China to embrace a different path", said the Secretary of State under President Obama's administration.
Even the Chinese people themselves have had to bear the brunt of Beijing's policies; one such example being Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist and self-trained lawyer from the Shangdong province of China, who has faced the wrath of the Chinese government for his advocacy of non-violent conflict resolution and an expose on forced abortion and sterilisation in China.
He spent four years in prison, and although he was released in September of last year- him and his family have since been put under house arrest. Chen has received widespread support from within and without his country, along with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, but he continues to face harassment in the form of beatings and complete isolation from anyone who wishes to visit him.
Clinton brought up the issue of his maltreatment at the East-West Centre, disgruntling the Chinese representatives present with her criticism of Beijing's human rights policies.
Tensions have grown between the US and China regarding the latter's restrictive economic policies, a discordant note struck earlier this week when China labelled America's goals for the regional free trade pact as "too ambitious".
According to the international media, Clinton also raised concerns about China's alleged preference for state-run firms in procurement and the value of its currency, which critics say is kept artificially low to boost exports.
Clinton is the most prominent US official till date to publicly raise concern over Tibet.