"You cannot, over the long run, have economic liberalization without political liberalization," Clinton said at an International Women's Leadership Forum in Mongolia. "Countries that want to be open for business but closed to free expression will find the approach comes with a cost.
"It kills innovation, discourages entrepreneurship, which are vital for sustainable growth. Without the rule of law, people with a good business idea or money to invest cannot trust that contracts will be respected and corruption punished, or that regulations will be transparent and disputes resolved fairly, and many will end up looking for opportunities elsewhere."
Clinton said the "heart" of U.S. strategy in Asia "is our support for democracy and human rights."
"Those are not only my nation's most cherished values, they are the birthright of every person born in the world," she said. "They are the values that speak to the dignity of every human being."
The secretary praised Mongolia's transformation from a one-party Communist dictatorship into a "pluralistic, democratic political system."
Since she traveled to the country 17 years ago, she noted Mongolia has had six parliamentary elections. She said the country has also recently passed a long-awaited freedom-of-information law, and that the country is working to improve freedom of the press and root out corruption.