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May 5, 1998



Secretary Albright's trip to four Asian countries last week drew the attention of China watchers in Asia and Europe. These writers perceived a "sea change" in U.S.-China relations leading up to President Clinton's state visit there in June. Milan's leading business Il Sole-24 Ore, for example, declared that the U.S. now views China not "with suspicion...but as a country that is changing.... Differences (between the U.S. and China) seem to count less than a few years ago," it added. Other European commentators and one in Singapore agreed with London's independent Financial Times, which stressed that the U.S.' "improved relationship...must be welcomed by the broader world, as it means a reduction in security risks." In available commentary, official Chinese media likewise welcomed the continuation of the strategic dialogue with Washington, whereas in Hong Kong, views were more mixed. The independent South China Morning Post noted that strengthening the rule of law on the mainland was "the latest addition to a growing list of areas in which the two sides are beginning to cooperate constructively." Other Hong Kong papers, however, such as the independent Hong Kong Standard, saw the U.S. as "preparing new grounds for harassment" of China, and pro-PRC Wen Wei Po warned the U.S. against "meddling" on the issue of Taiwan. Following are additional themes in the commentary:

SECURITY ISSUES: A STRATEGIC ROLE FOR JAPAN?--Analysts in Asia debated what role Japan should play in security arrangements in Asia. Tokyo's liberal Asahi expressed "doubts and apprehensions" about the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines, saying that an expansion of Japan's military role was too "decisive" a departure from Japan's previous defense policy. Hong Kong's independent Sing Pao Daily News seized upon U.S.-Japan security accords as proof that "Japan is hoping to become a military superpower, just like the U.S." In Australia, the liberal Melbourne Age thought it was "logical to welcome Japan as a countervailing power within...the American alliance." The conservative Australian, however, judged that the U.S. was coming to see Japan as "just hopeless in terms of leadership," and was therefore "asking what strategic deals (it) could do with China."

SOUTH KOREA: U.S. SHOULD ABIDE BY 'ETHICS OF NOBLESSE OBLIGE'--Editors in South Korea reacted sharply to issues discussed during the secretary's visit to Seoul--focusing on reports of a U.S. request for an increase in South Korea's share of financing heavy oil to North Korea and in the cost of the KEDO light water reactors (LWRs) for North Korea. The English-language Korea Times and others insisted that the U.S. should "not back-pedal from its pledged financial commitments," but should demonstrate its "moral leadership in deeds as well as in words."

This survey is based on 29 reports from 11 countries, April 25 - May 5.

EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney

To Go Directly To Quotes By Region, Click Below



CHINA: "Sino-U.S. Relations Fortified"

China's official media front-paged reports (5/1) on Secretary Albright's visit to Bejing, with the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) bannering "Jiang Zemin Meets With Albright" and the official, English-language China Daily running this headline: "Sino-U.S. Relations Fortified."

"Purpose Of Secretary Of State's China Visit"

Li Hongqi remarked in official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 4/25): "A high-ranking U.S. State Department official stated two purposes for Secretary Albright's visit to China next week. One is to prepare for the upcoming U.S.-Sino summit, the other is to continue the strategic dialogue with China."

HONG KONG: "Letting Law Rule"

An editorial in the independent, English-language South China Morning Post stressed (5/2): "As China and the United States press ahead with preparations for next month's visit to Beijing by President Bill Clinton, the need to strengthen the rule of law on the mainland has emerged as the latest addition to a growing list of areas in which the two sides are beginning to cooperate constructively."

"Trigger-Happy Washington Never Stops Firing Away"

Jackie Sam argued in the independent, English-language Hong Kong Standard (5/2): "Already it is very plain the Americans have prepared the ground for new areas of harassment in anticipation of the need to drop the human rights issue, which had become a unifying point for all of Asia. American foreign policy is to keep Asia divided, not united and the human rights issue has backfired.... From the American point of view Tibet and Christianity are better issues to beat China with because they will not be readily seen as threatening the interests of other Asian states.... The hard reality for the Americans is that China is a long-term threat to its interests. This threat will remain no matter how strong or how far ahead U.S. military technology is. The Americans are aware that, for all their might, Western civilization, as represented by the United States, is rotting at the core."

"Interaction Between China, U.S. And Taiwan"

Center-left Tin Tin Daily News expressed this view in an editorial (5/1): "The United States cannot keep on asking for things from China without giving in return. Bargaining and fair dealing seem to be more appropriate. In this process, it is inevitable for Taiwan to think that the United States or China is 'unfriendly.' An article in the Wall Street Journal saying that China has replaced Japan and become the new Asian ally of the United States, and Japan is very anxious about the possibility of the United States' leaving Japan and moving toward Beijing. This kind of discussion may not reflect the real situation in current international relations. Even though the United States is not satisfied with some of the economic measures adopted by Japan, U.S.-China relations can hardly surpass U.S.-Japan relations. However, there is a practical need for the United States and China to move closer."

"Albright's Visit Points To New Relationship"

In the editorial view of the independent, English-language Hong Kong Standard (5/1): "U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's agenda during her just-ended Beijing mission included both substance and symbolism....

"Even Secretary Albright's revelation that Washington was reviewing the economic sanctions it imposed on Beijing in 1989 was largely symbolic. There are few remaining sanctions, and those that have not been lifted have been weakened by temporary waivers.... It would have been a mistake to expect a great deal of substance to emerge from a mission that was billed as 'clearing the decks' for U.S. President Bill Clinton's upcoming trip to the mainland and Hong Kong."

"Specious Arguments--U.S. Moves Closer To China, Away From Japan"

The independent Hong Kong Economic Journal's editorial held (5/1): "At the moment, China's economic reform is largely conforming to U.S. interests. The United States is drawing benefits from its economic and trade relations with China. Owing to all these benefits, the establishment of the leaders' hotline will demonstrate enhanced cooperation between the United States and China.... Now, we have to see if the United States will open the door for China to enter the WTO, as well as whether it will lift the restriction on the transfer of advanced technology. If not, Sino-U.S. relations will only ease up on the surface; China will not gain any substantive benefit.... The U.S. economy is growing vigorously; its national power is also at an apex, and it is very successful in the Asian region. Nevertheless, Japan alone is still the United States' 'close comrade-in-arms'. China is only a business partner."

"Albright Warms Up Atmosphere For Clinton's China Visit"

Pro-PRC Wen Wei Po remarked in an editorial (4/30): "U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in Beijing yesterday to start her three-day working visit. Ms. Albright's visit has warmed up the atmosphere for a successful China visit by President Clinton in June. She will also make some preparations for the U.S.-China summit during this trip. Ms. Albright's success will guarantee the success of President Clinton's China visit.... There are many opportunities for China and the United States to develop their relations. However, the United States has missed many opportunities for improving Sino-U.S. relations since it violated China's sovereignty by interfering in the Taiwan issue.... The Taiwan issue is China's domestic affair. It should be settled by the Chinese people [on both sides of] the strait. If the United States does not meddle in it nor strike any postures, the solution will come when conditions are ripe. And Sino-U.S. relations will also stride forward toward a new era."

"Watch Out For Japan's Move To Expand Its Military Power"

The independent Sing Pao Daily News said in an editorial (4/29): "Before U.S. Secretary of State Albright visited China, she first made a stop in Tokyo and signed the new peace and security accord with Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi. This shows that the United States is very anxious to seek military assistance from Japan to minimize the United States' responsibility. However, this move is just what Japan has been hoping for. In recent years, Japan has continued to engage in armed expansion. That shows that Japan is not content with restricting its activities to such a small area.... The United States has too much confidence in Japan. It may lift a rock and drop it on its own feet. Japan is not willing to play the subordinate role forever. It is hoping to become a military superpower just like the United States. If Japan refuses to follow the United States' command one day, it will be too late for the United States to repent."

"Japan Should Be Given A Sharp Warning"

According to the independent Ming Pao Daily News' editorial (4/29): "Cross-strait conflicts are definitely a domestic affair of China's. Japan is in league with the United States to turn the Taiwan issue into an international matter. Japan wants to make use of the United States' military power as a backup to spur Taiwan to move toward independence. Japan, the supporter of 'Taiwan independence' behind the scenes, has...set off tense relations across the strait."

JAPAN: "China, Taiwan Should Focus On Stability"

According to an editorial in top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri (4/30), "Nearly three years after the suspension of government-level talks, China and Taiwan have agreed to return to the negotiating table.... Considering the importance of peace in that part of Asia, we hope that China and Taiwan will take advantage of their latest accord and work to build stable relations. Having improved relations with the United States in the fall of 1997, Beijing launched a renewed diplomatic offensive, while keeping President Clinton's visit to China, scheduled for June, in mind. This has forced Taiwan to reconsider its relations with China and to study how the changed circumstances might affect Beijing's behavior. In this sense, both sides had a powerful incentive to resume talks."

"We Cannot Tolerate Diet's Passage Of 'Defense Guidelines'"

An editorial in liberal Asahi emphasized (4/29): "The government submitted two bills to the Diet on Tuesday to give shape to the revised U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines. On the same day, visiting Secretary of State Albright and Foreign Minister Obuchi signed the revised Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). The legislation of these 'defense guidelines'-related bills would require Japan to give increased rear-area support to the U.S. military during emergencies in areas surrounding Japan.... This is a decisive departure from Japan's previous defense policy. These 'guidelines'-related bills, if enacted into laws, would form a framework under which JSDF units...will shoulder a certain role in dealing with regional conflicts under U.S. leadership.... From the issuance of a U.S.-Japan Declaration on Security in 1996 to the proposed legislation of 'guidelines' bills, we have repeatedly expressed doubts or apprehensions about the redefinition of U.S.-Japan security relations, in particular, the expansion of Japan's military role. We cannot tolerate the fact that the government submitted these bills to the Diet without replying to our doubts and apprehensions."

AUSTRALIA: "U.S. Lets Asia Policy Drift Amid Domestic Undercurrents"

Under the above headline, foreign editor Greg Sheridan filed this op-ed piece from the United States for the national, conservative Australian (5/1): "The Clinton administration is going through some intriguing transitions in foreign policy right now.... The changing relativities between China and Japan in U.S. thinking are fascinating. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was in Tokyo this week soothing Japanese sensitivities, but overall it is clear the Americans are coming to regard Japan as just hopeless in terms of leadership and are increasingly asking what strategic deals they can do with China. This would be fruitful, but is not without risks."

"Bigger Regional Strategic Role For Japan Appropriate"

In the editorial view of the liberal Melbourne Age (4/30): "The reality is that neither Japan nor its regional neighbors can reasonably continue to live amid the shadows and inhibitions of the past. And far from signalling a military resurgence in Japan, the change comes with the blessing, if not at the instigation, of the United States.... The interest of the United States, eager to ease its global strategic responsibilities with the ending of Cold War tensions, is to ensure that Japan will play a more substantial support and self-defense role in dealing with any security crisis in its vicinity.... But now that China is growing in wealth, strength and confidence, it is logical to welcome Japan as a countervailing power within--so long as possible--the American alliance."

SINGAPORE: "Clinton's China Successes"

The pro-government Business Times had this editorial view (4/30): "The Clinton administration, resisting the anti-China pressure on Capitol Hill, has continued to quietly pursue its policy of engaging Beijing, while none of the nightmare scenarios proposed by the China-bashers has materialized. Mr. Clinton's China policies have proven to be a diplomatic success--from the peaceful transition of Hong Kong...and the current American-induced negotiations between Beijing and Taipei, to the Chinese government's recent release of political dissident Wang Dan.... Perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of the Sino-American detente has been the increasing cooperation between Beijing and Washington on dealing with the East Asian financial crisis. China's willingness to refrain from devaluing its currency is a matter of major relief for troubled East Asian economies. This, coupled with China's commitment to respect the political and economic autonomy of Hong Kong and to continue reforming the Chinese economy, should help the president in his efforts to transform the anti-China mood on Capitol Hill. The lesson of the Clinton China policy is clear: Engaging China...is the most effective way to turn Beijing into a responsible international player and to accelerate the process of reform in China--both economic and political."

SOUTH KOREA: "Changing Relations Takes Heavy Toll On Seoul"

The English-language Korea Times concluded (5/4): "The change in (South) Korea-U.S. bilateral relations from one of client-patron to that of equal partners is taking a heavy toll on Seoul, indeed. Washington's diplomatic pressures, whether covert or overt, make it hard for this tiny nation to withstand the giant ally's request. To be sure, in the past the United States has, for the most part, been a great nation and a benevolent 'big brother' to Korea. In recent years, however, the world's last remaining superpower has increasingly acted contrary to its traditional role in relations with Korea.... Just over three weeks ago, U.S. Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering during his visit here reportedly made a formal request that Korea publicly agree to assume 70 percent of KEDO's total cost of $5.2 billion. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit Friday has obviously added fuel to the fire by asking Seoul to also share the financing of heavy oil to North Korea. The oil shipments were originally to be paid by Washington.... Seoul has already pledged to meet 70 percent of the KEDO project's financial burden. Japan is to meet 20 percent. The United States will play the role of a Shylock or a Scrooge if it is not willing to take up the remaining 10 percent.... The ethics of noblesse oblige require Washington to fulfill its obligations and contributions to the KEDO project, not to back-pedal from its pledged financial commitment to the important international undertaking. The United States as the world's last remaining superpower must display its moral leadership in deeds as well as in words."

"New Concerns In The Alliance"

The English-language Korea Herald declared (5/4): "Secretary Albright has asked Korea to share part of the $50 million in arrears for the supply of heavy fuel oil to North Korea for the operation of its thermal power plants, and also to increase its burden in the $5.2 billion project for the construction of light-water reactors (LWRs) in the North, beyond the orginal commitment of 70 percent.... It is hardly reassuring to see the United States, now enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, trying to shake off its international obligations and turn them over to Seoul and Tokyo, both suffering under the staggering impact of Asia's financial turmoil.... (South) Korea and the United States, throughout their long history of alliance, have overcome numerous troubles in their many-sided relations. Once again, the two nations should exhibit the strength of their ties and not allow financial problems to interfere with their solid security cooperation."

"Meeting With Albright"

Conservative Segye Ilbo judged in an editorial (5/2): "Secretary of State Albright visited at a very important and critical time.... The visit--her first since the inauguration of the new administration in Korea--provided an opportunity to solidify the countries' relations.... Since the inauguration of the new administration, the two countries have had an unusual sense of solidarity.... Albright's visit has particular signficance as a means of checking what the United States can do to help Korea overcome its current economic crisis. It should be noted that U.S. support is indispensible for Korea to overcome the predicatment it now faces.... Given the current economic crisis, we have no choice but to request that the United States ease various trade restrictions toward us."

"Differences Remain Over Shouldering Costs Of LWR"

Anti-establishment Hankyoreh Shinmun emphasized (5/2): "Although Foreign Minister Park characterized his meeting with Secretary Albright as 'all bright,' differences nevertheless exist between the two countries that will have to be settled. This indicates that the two sides will continue to argue about issues like shouldering the costs of the North Korean LWR project.... The United States' asking us to pay more is not acceptable because it violates the general framework of the financing arrangement for the North Korean LWR project."

"Korea's Economic Stress"

Conservative Chosun Ilbo told its readers (5/1): "It is too bad that the United States is withdrawing its support for Korea now that (South Korea) is under great economic stress. At this point, we do not even know if the $8 billion of the 'second line of defense' will be provided at all. The inflow of U.S. capital remains meager at this point. We really hope that the United States will take the lead in providing second line of defense funds and also in increasing investment in Korea. We also hope that the United States will continue to play a role in ensuring continued cooperation from the IMF."

"Albright Lectured By Jiang Zemin On Tibet?"

Moderate Hankook Ilbo asked (5/1): "Was President Jiang Zemin's art of conversation better than that of U.S. Secretary of State Albright? According to foreign news services from Beijing, Secretary Albright discussed Sino-U.S. bilateral issues and other international issues on April 30 with President Jiang, while they were having a walk. During the discussion, she 'unnoticeably' raised the issue of Tibet's independence.... As soon as Secretary Albright finished her remark, however, President Jiang gave a 15-minute lecture on the history of Sino-Tibetan relations, sticking to the usual stance of the Chinese government... Albright may have found it odd that the Chinese President readily gave a lecture as if he was waiting for the chance. Although we do not know what kind of answer Albright gave to President Jiang's 'offense,' one official explained the situation saying that the U.S. Secretary of State was lectured by the president."


INDIA: "China Revisited"

The centrist Hindu featured this analysis (5/5) by former foreign secretary T.N. Kaul: "I visited China after 44 years at the invitation of the Nankai University, Tianjin to participate in a symposium held in connection with Zhou Enlai's birth centenary.... In my informal talks with the Chinese, I gathered the impression that they are willing to talk if India so desires.... The Chinese are...thinking of the future when cooperation with India and Russia could help them face American domination, especially in the economic and political fields....

"As regards Chinese help to Pakistan, I doubt whether China will militarily intervene in any conflict that may arise between India and Pakistan.... Today we will have to depend mainly on ourselves, but we must devise ways and means of improving our relations with Russia as well as China, and, if possible, with the United States in order to meet any possible threat from Pakistan."

"George And The Dragon"

According to an editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times (5/5): "It does not behoove a country's defense minister to throw uncalled-for punches at other nations and indulge in rock-ribbed rhetoric, even if it reflects the reality backlighting bilateral relations.... George Fernandes would have done well to keep to himself his righteous indignation over China's hegemonistic zeal in this part of the globe.... But having said that, it is high time New Delhi took stock of its muddled China policy and had a better matrix upon which future Sino-Indian relations could be moored, taking into consideration the emerging regional and extra-regional strategic landscape....

"China's growing assertiveness on global and regional issues...has seen Beijing adopting a policy of containment towards India rather than one of engagement. Take the thorny border issue, for instance. Beijing's political masters seem to be in no hurry whatsoever to resolve the frontier dispute for the simple reason that it provides China with additional leverage against India.... It is a sad fact that South Block (site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has been so obsessed with its Pakistan-centric threat perceptions that it has almost completely overlooked India's lack of leverage against China. And the country can build such leverage only by forging strong strategic partnerships, along with military and economic might--the only language China respects. Thus new Delhi's nod to developing the next phase of the IRBM Agni is a step in the right direction toward achieving a credible deterrence posture."

"Living With China"

Pundit K. Subrahmanyam penned this analysis for the pro-economic-reforms Economic Times (4/30): "There is considerable confusion in the minds of large sections of the Indian elite on how to deal with China.... While (Defense Minister) Fernandes's use of the term 'threat' in respect of China may be an infelicitous one, there can be no two opinions that China is bound to be a major challenge to India in the twenty-first century.... China's power projection in Asia is being boosted by the U.S. administration obsessed with China trade and arrogant of its own capability to contain China when the chips are down. The United States treats China as though it is the second pole in a bipolar system. China loves being treated that way and extracts every advantage out of the United States.... China's aim is not military expansion but acknowledgement as the foremost power in Asia. China opposes U.S. hegemonism, but a non-democratic China cannot but be hegemonistic in Asia.... Most of the nations in Asia and some of them in South Asia...prefer U.S. hegemonism to the Chinese one.... There is...every reason to ponder seriously over the impact of China's rising power over Asia, and particularly South Asia.... Our biggest weakness vis-a-vis China is lack of leadership and long-term commitment to this country's future."


BRITAIN: "After Tiananmen"

The independent Financial Times expressed this editorial view (5/1): "If there was still any room for doubt about the sea change in U.S.-China relations, it should have been removed by this week's hint that the United States might consider removing some of the sanctions in place since the Tiananmen Square massacre. When President Clinton visits Beijing in June, the focus will be firmly on the future, not the past, according to Secretary of State Albright.

"This improved relationship must be welcomed by the broader world, as it means a reduction in security risks.... China may be encouraged on human rights if the West now responds by bringing its leaders more into the international fold. But neither Washington nor Beijing should be under any illusion about the possibility of sustaining a better relationship if there is backtracking on human rights. The coming period of economic reform may well precipitate social disturbances, inviting renewed political oppression. This would clearly be a tragic mistake. China's economic reforms are inevitably loosening the state's political control. Beijing's response, as Mrs. Albright stressed yesterday, should be to strengthen the rule of law."

FRANCE: "Albright To Visit Beijing Amid Major U.S.-China Thaw"

Patrick Sabatier emphasized in left-of-center Liberation (4/28): "Two serious crises convinced Washington it was important to consolidate...relations with Beijing. A confrontation in March, 1996 with Taiwan proved there was a real risk of a military confrontation. The Asian financial crisis, on the contrary, showed that Beijing played an indispensable stabilizing role in the region.... Economic factors were decisive behind Clinton's choice...and human rights issues have become secondary."

ITALY: "U.S. 'Opens' To China"

Leading business Il Sole-24 Ore had this from Beijing (5/1): "The United States has changed its way of seeing China. Beijing is no longer...looked at with suspicion and tension, but as...a country that is changing. And the change is in a positive direction. This is the sense of Secretary Albright's visit to Beijing, according to what Albright herself indicated during a crowded press conference. All differences and disagreements remain, but today the glass appears half full rather than half empty. The Chinese reality, while still full of things which aren't quite right according to the United States, is now seen in a historic perspective that acknowledges the progress made and the progress still to be made."

"Albright In Beijing: 'We Will Strengthen Relations'"

Leading business Il Sole-24 Ore pointed out (4/30): "There are many differences in substance and spirit between the United States and China as the first visit to Beijing by an American President since Tiananmen is approaching. But differences seem to count less than a few years ago. Secretary Albright reiterated yesterday during a press conference in Beijing her criticism of human rights conditions in China. But she also announced the agreement for a direct telephone line between the U.S. and Chinese presidents and pointed out that Clinton, during his visit in June, wants to solidify the bilateral relationship for the 21st century.... Distances between the two countries seem to be narrower than in the past. China is more conciliatory toward Taiwan and the dissidents, and the United States is exerting pressure on Taiwan to convince it to resume dialogue with Beijing. As additional evidence of detente, another Chinese dissident is likely to be released after Clinton's visit."

RUSSIA: "China, U.S. Round Out Corners"

Under the above headline, centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (4/30) ran this by Pavel Spirin in Beijing: "China has reached its cherished goal--it has prepared the ground for worldwide cooperation with the United States and for having the West lift practically all restrictions on access to state-of-the-art technology."

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