In comments that also indicated her interest in taking a leading role on relations with China, Mrs Clinton faulted the Bush administration for its approach, which was largely left in the hands of Hank Paulson, the former Treasury secretary.
"The strategic dialogue that was begun in the Bush administration turned into an economic dialogue and that's a very important aspect of our relationship with China, but it is not the only aspect of our relationship," she told journalists.
"So we're going to be working together in the government . . . to design a more comprehensive ap-proach that we think will be more in keeping with the important role that China is playing and will be playing."
Her comments came after Tim Geithner, the newly confirmed Treasury secretary, used a politically loaded word - "manipulating" - to describe China's management of its exchange rate.
His remarks, in testimony to the US Senate, were widely seen as an early signal of the Obama administration's intention to increase pressure on Beijing over economic issues.