|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|
Official Beijing and Pro-PRC papers accentuated "positive results" of Beijing Summit.
Others asserted that U.S. and China merely "agreed to disagree" on contentious issues.
"Axis of Evil" critics detected a "softening" of President Bush's rhetoric by the trip's end.
Observers saw Japan's economic woes as undermining Tokyo's political influence.
-- Many writers focused on Beijing's status as a rising economic and geopolitical star. Official Beijing papers and pro-PRC outlets in the SARs gloried in the pragmatic, big-power dynamics of the Bush-Jiang meetings. European commentators were also struck by the apparent parity between the parties. London's Financial Times noted pointedly that China had "failed to reassure the U.S. that it would comply with an international accord limiting the export of missile technology to unstable regions.” One Italian daily called Beijing "the only capital in the world that is able to look at America straight in the eyes without lowering their own."
-- Speculation that North Korea's inclusion in the "Axis of Evil" would spoil the atmospherics of the Asian trip was off the mark. Even Seoul dailies, which uniformly contended that Bush's "Axis of Evil" remarks had "triggered a crisis on the peninsula", noted that tensions had "eased during his Seoul visit." Commentators in Asia, Europe and the Americas were moderately upbeat about a "softening" in the president's rhetoric on Pyongyang, jumping especially on reports that President Bush might consider China "a good mediator" with North Korea.
-- While the absence of "breakthroughs" in Beijing bothered few observers, many writers expressed concern that the Bush-Koizumi talks in Tokyo unveiled no initiatives to address Japan's economic malaise. China's official Beijing Youth Daily, typified those who held that Bush and Koziumi had "evaded substantial problems to create a friendly atmosphere." Asian editorials contrasted the states of the Chinese and the Japanese economies, speculating that Tokyo's influence in Washington was waning. An Australian daily, noting the convergence of American and Chinese economic interests, asserted that the Bush administration may be using strategic ally Tokyo as a mere "foil" in its relations with China.
COMMENTARY HIGHLIGHT: Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post (2/23): "The Bush-Jiang summit was carefully choreographed diplomacy.... What the meetings lacked in concrete results, seemed to be compensated for by each [side] making it clear that pragmatism will govern their dealings with each other."
EDITOR: Stephen Thibeault
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 70 reports from 28 countries, 2/19-25. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.
CHINA: "Talks Achieve 'Positive' Results"
Meng Yan commented in official English language China Daily (2/22): "President Jiang Zemin and visiting U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday reached broad and important consensus, as they exchanged views on Sino-U.S. relations and major international and regional issues. The talks, the second in four months, were described by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan as 'positive, constructive and fruitful.' 'Our ties are mature, respectful and important to both our nations and to the world,' Bush said when meeting the press with Jiang after their talks.... During their talks, Jiang elaborated on China's basic guidelines of 'peaceful reunification' and 'one country, two systems' in resolving the Taiwan issue. Bush reiterated that the U.S. side adheres to the one-China policy and abides by the three joint communiquTs, which is the consistent position of the U.S. Government."
"Trade Relations Benefit Both"
Liu Dongkai, Qian Chunxuan commented in the official Communist Party People's Daily, (Renmin Ribao, 2/22): "During President Bush's visit to an exhibition of compressed natural gas engines, Bush said it is a 'wise policy' to trade with China.... The U.S. has strong relations with China, and China has vast potential. Therefore, it is in the interest of the U.S. to cooperate with China on key issues like the economy, trade and fighting terrorism."
"Sino-U.S. Summit Reaches Important Consensus, Achieves Positive Results"
Beijing Zhongguo Xinwen She, China's official news service for overseas Chinese, ran this piece (2/21): "When meeting the press together with the visiting President Bush here today, Chinese State President Jiang Zemin said that the talks...had produced consensus on many issues and had achieved positive results.... Jiang Zemin indicated that it is only normal for some differences to exist between China and the U.S., given that their national conditions differ. He and President Bush discussed these issues in a frank and sincere way. As long as the two sides go by the spirit of respecting each other, treating each other on equal footing, and seeking common ground while reserving differences, they will be able to continuously narrow their differences, expand their consensus, and promote cooperation between them. He hopes and believes that this meeting will have a positive impact on the improvement and development of Sino-U.S. relations."
"Sino-U.S. Relations: Thirty Years Looking Back"
Wang Li commented in the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 2/20): "We have experienced ups and downs in the development of Sino-U.S. relations. It is very exciting to see high level dialogues, government exchanges and trade built up from virtually nothing into today's prosperity. It is in the mutual interests of both peoples to work for the entire world's peace and development."
"U.S.-Japan Summit: Real Results Or Empty Words"
Pan Xiaoying commented in official Beijing Youth Daily, (Beijing Qingnianbao, 2/20): "Analysts say that this U.S.-Japan summit produced more empty words than real results. They evaded existing substantial problems to create a friendly atmosphere. For the U.S. side, it is looking for concrete results from Japan's economic reform, while Japan's Prime Minister wants to use Bush's visit to boost his own reputation."
HONG KONG & MACAU SARs: "Beijing's PR Triumph"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post wrote in an editorial (2/23): "The Bush-Jiang summit was, for the most part, a piece of carefully choreographed diplomacy.... Even before the meetings began it would have been obvious to officials that there were to be no breakthrough deals. But what the meetings between the two leaders lacked in concrete results, seemed to be compensated for by each taking the opportunity to make it clear that pragmatism will govern their dealings with each other.... Ultimately, the exercise was a public relations triumph for Beijing.... Bush's flying the flag for U.S. values was as much an exercise in pleasing his audience back home as any in China. And allowing Mr. Bush to get his message across was the price Beijing was prepared to pay to build the foundations of a workable relationship. Simply having Mr. Bush in China at this time, as WTO membership begins, as a new leadership hierarchy starts to form and as China comes ever more to the fore in world affairs, was of great significance to Beijing. To this end a welcome and wise quid pro quo understanding appears to have been forged."
"Bush's China Visit Yields Results; Sino-U.S. Relations Back On Track"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (2/23): "On the surface, Bush's 36-hour China visit seemed to have yielded no results. In fact, the major achievement of Bush's China visit was to lead Sino-U.S. relations back to the normal track.... Even though China and the U.S. have their differences, they have striven hard to minimize their contradictions and to make friendly moves."
"Bush's Advice: Embrace Freedom"
The independent Chinese-language Apple Daily wrote in an editorial (2/23): "Bush delivered a speech on freedom yesterday at Tsinghua University. Although his speech was not as influential as that of President Reagan, Bush's speech was timely and important advice to the Chinese leaders."
"Bush Preaches Old Teaching At Tsinghua"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily commented in an editorial (2/23): "Although the U.S. Administration made meticulous arrangements for the Bush speech, there was nothing new in the content. People felt that Bush's mindset is still that of twenty years ago. He thinks that Chinese people still know nothing about the U.S. and need his preaching and his help to become civilized.... If the U.S. really wants China to continue to improve its scope of freedom, democracy and human rights, it should help China develop its economy with all its heart, and should not put up any obstacles checking China's reunification."
"Japan's Best Hope"
The independent, English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (2/19): "Mr. Bush is looking at a bigger strategic map in Asia, placing emphasis on Japan as a trusted ally. His public commitment to Mr. Koizumi also reflects the reality that there are no quick fixes. Everyone, including Liberal Democratic Party stalwarts, recognize the medicine that Japan's economy needs, even if they disagree on the sequencing and speed of these measures.... Mr. Koizumi needs all the support he can muster to juggle so many balls. He may already have blown his chance but Mr. Bush is right to stand by what remains Japan's best hope."
TAIWAN: "Axis Of Evil Statement Is Pivot Of Bush's Asian Trip"
Columnist Tu Mo noted in liberal, pro-independence Liberty Times (2/23): "On the whole, the intention of Bush's trip...sought to follow the 'axis of evil' remarks stated in the State of the Union address and circle around the three issues on the agenda: 'safety, prosperity and peace,' which were announced prior to Bush's trip. In other words, Bush's trip reveals a new world order in Asia Pacific after the September 11 incident had finally and thoroughly dissolved the Cold War structure.... Evidently, although there is nothing new about his trip."
"Bush Better Than Bill In Beijing"
The liberal, pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times noted (2/22): "Bush started off his presidency with some strong words--and actions--designed to let China know there was a new administration to deal with that was not prepared to kowtow in the manner of its predecessor. He has no need to reiterate this. Having chosen the ground, Bush is now interested to see what China will bring to the picnic. Time will tell. The fact is that nothing can be achieved by the U.S. president in cross-strait relations, except to deter Chinese aggression. He cannot make the people of Taiwan look with anything less than loathing at the Beijing regime, and he surely realizes that Beijing will not come up with anything new in Taiwan policy until the new post-16th Party Congress leadership feels comfortable in office.
"Actually, Taiwan was not a major issue on Bush's agenda with China. Far more important was the subject of China's continued arms trade with rogue regimes, especially the help it has given Pakistan and Iran to build weapons of mass destruction. No deal was struck nor, officials said yesterday, would one even be drafted ahead of Bush's return to Washington. Taiwan of course faces a threat from the 300 or so missiles based in Southeast China, which threaten its cities and military standpoints. But the irony is that it is the weapons and weapons-building technology that China supplies to other nations that might be a bigger threat, at least if China were to offer a deal on proliferation in return for an agreement about arms sales to Taiwan. Not that we think the current U.S. president would be tempted by such a deal. But it is certainly as well that the Taiwan Relations Act is a part of U.S. law."
"Bush's Beijing Visit Symbolizes End of China-U.S. Adaptation Period"
Wang Cho-chung noted in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (2/20): "Strictly speaking, the September 11 incident was a catalyst for the development of Washington-Beijing ties in the second half of last year. The Bush administration has now fully recognized that it is in the U.S.' national interests to return to active engagement with China. Seeing Beijing's support for the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign following the September 11 incident, Washington also realized that to end the adaptation period with China as early as possible was essential for the U.S.' counter-terrorism efforts in the international society.... As both Washington and Beijing show interest in normalizing their bilateral ties, most Chinese specialists in Beijing believe that Bush's trip to Beijing symbolizes that the adaptation period for Washington-Beijing ties has come to an end . In the future, Washington-Beijing relations could walk on a normal track. Even though the conflicts between the two sides on issues like Taiwan, human rights and proliferation still exist, they would not accidentally turn into serious confrontation like in the past."
JAPAN: "Bush Adopts Oriental (Face-Saving) Diplomacy"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (2/24): "Undoubtedly, Bush returned to Washington satisfied with the results of his tour through three East Asian nations. The leaders in Japan, South Korea and China were also satisfied with the results of talks.... Mr. Bush won continuing support from these Asian leaders for the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign, while the Asian leaders reacted favorably to 'face-saving' gestures shown by the president to their countries that have pending issues with the U.S."
"Discord Must Be Adjusted"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri's editorial stresssed (2/22): "President Bush's three-nation East Asia tour has been bathed in a soft focus on the surface. Underneath, however, has been the President's rock-solid message that he is determined to continue the war on terror. Presidents Bush and Jiang agreed during their summit in Beijing to strengthen a strategic dialogue and to promote a constructive relationship of cooperation. Good U.S.-China relations are indispensable for stability in the Asia-Pacific region. China not only did not side with the U.S. President's 'axis of evil' theory but also remains opposed to the U.S.' expanding its antiterrorism campaign. If the U.S. gives priority to unilateral military action, U.S.-China antiterrorism cooperation will likely crumble. During his tour, President Bush underscored the importance of Asia. Nonetheless, the future will have to see the adjustment of some of the discord."
"What Bush Left In East Asia"
Liberal Asahi observed (2/22): "During his East Asia tour, President Bush, using the antiterrorism campaign as leverage, attempted to make the distances between Washington and Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing as small as possible. But what about stability in East Asia following the President's tour? Mr. Bush's 'axis of evil' remark has heightened the tension on the Korean Peninsula. His call for Chinese President Jiang's mediation in the resumption of U.S.-DPRK talks was not a greater degree of eagerness than shown in the past. Isn't it now time to restructure the U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliances and seek China's assistance in promoting diplomacy with North Korea?"
"Expressions Of Support To Cost Dearly?"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (2/20): "Undoubtedly, President Bush was encouraged by Prime Minister Koizumi's renewed support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism and his stated understanding on the President's recent 'axis of evil' remark. Koizumi's 'support and understanding' is tantamount to signaling to the world a message of Japan's support for any future U.S. military action against Iraq. European allies are increasingly alarmed by such military operations.... If the U.S. strikes Iraq without substantiating Baghdad's linkage to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it may prompt U.S. isolation from the world community. If the global community goes back on the U.S., will only Japan remain on the side of the U.S.? Japan's Self-Defense Forces cannot give support to U.S. military operations against Iraq under the recently enacted antiterrorism law. Although Japan needs other legislation to support the operations, the national Diet is not likely to enact such legislation. "
"Japan Should Promote U.S.-Iran Ties"
Liberal Mainichi observed (2/20): "Japan's Iran diplomacy is likely to have a major impact on world politics. During his one-on-one with PM Koizumi, President Bush pinned hopes on Japan's positive role in improving U.S.-Iran relations. Japanese diplomats have built up 'unique' channels of communication with Tehran. Japanese diplomacy is being put to the test.... Two years ago, President Khatami, who is a top-ranking moderate leader, visited Japan. Japan should do all it can to return the modernizing Islamic nation to the international community. Now is the time for Japan to help promote relations between the U.S. and Iran."
"Koizumi Needs To Ease World Concerns"
Liberal Asahi's editorial emphasized (2/19): "President Bush descended on Tokyo confident of the U.S.-led war on terror and American economic recovery. He thanked Prime Minister Koizumi for Japan's support in the antiterrorism campaign and expressed support for the prime minister's structural reform plans.... During the past decade, Japan has now been reduced to being a serious risk for the world economy.... The president 'mildly' urged PM Koizumi to re-activate the economy, while calling an economically strong Japan important for the world. The government of Japan should take the president's remark as a manifestation of serious world concerns over a delay in Japan's economic reforms. PM Koizumi has already told cabinet ministers concerned to map out concrete anti-deflationary measures. Japan can no longer waste any more time in implementing these measures."
NORTH KOREA: "DPRK Warns U.S. Of 'Merciless Annihilation'"
Pyongyang's official KCNA featured this piece (2/21): "Minju Joson today carries a signed commentary denouncing Bush for getting more vociferous in slandering the DPRK.... Bush demanded that the DPRK show a 'favor' by withdrawing some conventional weapons deployed along the military demarcation line...and stop the export of missiles, warning that 'there is possibility of various options' in case it does not carry them out. Saying that this suggests, in fact, the U.S. intention to provoke a war if the DPRK does not meet its demands, the commentary continues: 'It is ridiculous for the U.S. to resort to such a trite method to put the DPRK under its control. The DPRK is fully prepared to react to the U.S. military pressure and attack. If the U.S. wants to settle the issue of the DPRK-U.S. relations by force of arms the DPRK cannot but have recourse to arms. If it commits military provocations against the DPRK, the army and people of the DPRK will respond to them with only one option, the merciless annihilation of aggressors."
SOUTH KOREA: "Summit Follow-up Tasks"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (2/23): "Given that Bush conveyed a firm U.S. stance on the anti-terror war and won diplomatic support from all three nations, this trip can be considered successful. However, he failed to lay out concrete measures to help Japan with its economic restructuring.... In addition, although tension on the peninsula, which has heightened since Mr. Bush's 'axis of evil' remarks, eased during his Seoul visit, his statements on North Korea left more questions than answers.... Seoul should work out a mechanism to approach the North based on the alliance with the U.S."
“Resumption Of Inter-Korean Dialogue Should Come First”
Pro-government Hankyoreh judged (2/22): “The U.S.' toned-down remark does mean Bush and his cabinet members’ hard-line position toward North Korea changed overnight. The possibility of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula is always there. Moreover, the U.S. and South Korea have yet to resolve their different viewpoints or approach for dialogue in dealing with the North.... Restarting U.S.-DPRK talks may take time. However, the inter-Korean dialogue should resume as soon as possible to lay the groundwork for reconciliation and cooperation on the peninsula.... The U.S. should not repeat the Clinton Administration’s mistake of missing the opportunity to talk with the North. Both the U.S. and South Korea should make specific proposals for dialogue to North Korea. ”
“U.S.-ROK Summit Reconfirms Strong Bilateral Alliance”
Conservative Segye Ilbo editorialized (2/21): “At the ROK-U.S. summit, Presidents Kim and Bush agreed to settle North Korea issues through dialogue. Such an agreement can, for the time being, provide a safety valve for the crisis on the peninsula that was triggered by Mr. Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ comments… That itself is a successful outcome.… However, although the U.S. has opted for dialogue, its mistrust of North Korea is still problematic.... This indicates that a U.S. ‘action’ against the Kim Jong-il regime remains an option. In this regard, we are burdened with the double task of inducing the North to the negotiating table and urging the U.S. to exercise prudence.”
“Let’s Complete A Road To Peace”
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (2/21): “It is notable that the leaders of the U.S. and the ROK have cleared away fears of instability on the Korean peninsula and urged North Korea to come to the dialogue table. President Kim’s persuasive explanation of inter-Korean affairs and his clear understanding of Mr. Bush’s global strategy seem to have played an important role in making the summit a success. There cannot be any disagreement between North and South Korea over President Bush’s message, ‘Let’s complete a road to peace,’ delivered at Dorasan Station near the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas."
"Violent Anti-U.S. Protests Worrisome”
Independent Dong-a Ilbo reflected (2/20): “We cannot deny that a recent series of anti-American demonstrations in the country were triggered by Mr. Bush’s hard-line stance on North Korea. In addition, given that there are mounting criticisms of Mr. Bush’s views of North Korea in Europe and even the U.S., it is understandable for the Korean people to raise their voices against such a U.S. stance. However, Hanchongryon’s choice of illegal and violent means splashed mud over the faces of other anti-U.S. activists or organizations that have expressed their opinion in a fair and square manner.”
“Countermeasures Against Weakening Yen Out Of Sight”
Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (2/20): “We cannot help but say that this U.S.-Japan summit meeting fell short of our expectations. Japan’s 12-year-long economic recession is building into a global economic time bomb. Now is the time for Japan to abandon its easygoing measures, such as the devaluation of its currency, and to carry out drastic economic reforms in order to infuse much-needed vitality into its moribund economy. This is the only way to revive the world as well as Japan.”
AUSTRALIA: "Bush's Reality Check In Beijing"
An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald read (2/25): "United States officials were unable to hide their disappointment on leaving China late on Friday.... The U.S. president had come to the region seeking support for the expansion of the U.S.-led war on terrorism and to pledge U.S. military protection for its Asian allies. However, it was in China that Bush confronted the reality that, even as the world's sole remaining superpower, Washington is unable to call all the shots. It was a significant, but not entirely unexpected, blow to Bush that the visit failed to produce an agreement to limit Chinese sales of weapons technology to Iraq and other countries hostile to the US."
"Buddies Under His Wing"
Foreign editor Greg Sheridan wrote in the national conservative Australian (2/21): "The great thing about U.S. President George W. Bush is that none of his interlocutors is going to die wondering what he really thinks. Bush is in the middle of an important visit to Japan, South Korea and China, and as usual his rhetoric has been strong, his message clear. This is an important trip designed to consolidate U.S. diplomacy throughout East Asia. The order and priorities have been just right.... From an Australian point of view the stress Bush puts on regional security and economic architecture is good news."
"What A Difference 60 Years Makes"
The liberal Age editorialized (2/21): "The most encouraging aspect of Bush's speech was its confirmation that Washington remains firmly committed to its alliances in the Asia-Pacific region. Since the beginning of the war on terrorism, official U.S. rhetoric has sometimes had a worryingly unilateralist tone, but this was absent from the Diet speech.... The speech was also notable for its conciliatory, if tentative, approach to China. If the U.S. can build a partnership with Beijing as close as that which it already has with Tokyo, Bush's vision of a Pacific century may well be fulfilled."
"President Means Business In Pacific"
Tony Parkinson commented in the liberal Age (2/20): "Bush's main priority on this trip to Asia is to bolster his coalition against terrorism. Yesterday's speech was a rallying-cry to long-standing allies to lock in behind him. It also reminded the neighborhood that a powerful U.S. military presence is a cornerstone of regional security. Bush delivered this message frankly and forthrightly. Perhaps too frankly and forthrightly for some. "
"Bush Uses Japan As Foil To China"
Washington correspondent Peter Hartcher wrote in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (2/20): "George Bush has signaled, by his silence, endorsement of a grand but controversial geo-economic pact between the world's two biggest economies.... In sum, the Bush Administration wants a strong Japan to help it manage a rising China. It is this big geo-strategic idea that's provided the rationale for the geo-economic one. Will it work? If history is any guide, no. The U.S. under a different administration struck the same bargain with Tokyo in 1995-96. Japan took the benefit of a weak yen but made no real advances on reform. Which is why it is still in trouble today. The word yen, incidentally, means round, or circle."
INDONESIA: "President Bush Returns To Washington"
Independent afternoon Suara Pembaruan ran an op-ed piece by international observer, former Indonesian ambassador to Australia, Sabam Siagian (2/23): "What seems important is that President Bush and his administration today would be paying more attention to the Asia Pacific region. Who knows, when the time comes he might also visit the important countries of Southeast Asia. Then he would then have a more complete picture of Asia/Pacific."
PHILIPPINES: "Bush's Cold War Phraseology"
Julius F. Fortuna wrote in the independent Manila Times (2/21): "We listened to President George W. Bush's speech before the Japanese Diet on Tuesday and we were deeply disappointed. War clouds, not different from those above Korea and Vietnam, are back in our region. The phrases used by Bush during his speech, like 'forward presence' and 'American purpose and power' remaining in the region, are signs of the tense future. It reminds us of the aggressive American policy in Cold War days when the U.S. was on alert against China and the Soviet Union. When Bush says that the U.S.won't tolerate any power or coalition of powers to endanger that security of freedom in the region, watch out for the next moves of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii. We should expect more U.S. airmen and sailors going into the Asian heartland."
"A Sunset Economy"
Alex Magno wrote in his column in the independent Manila Standard (2/19): "China has a sunrise economy, growing over 10 percent annually the last decade.... By contrast, Japan seems to be a sunset economy. Trapped in recession and rising unemployment, Japan cannot seem to muster what is required to push dramatic structural reforms in its government and economy. President Bush visited Tokyo last Sunday principally to impress on the Japanese the need to move more decisively on reforms--especially those affecting Japan's ailing banking system."
SINGAPORE: "Hidden Agenda Behind All That Fulsome Praise"
Tokyo correspondent Anthony Rowley wrote in pro-government Business Times (2/20): "Japan was treated to an extraordinary spectacle of mutual back-scratching this week between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and visiting U.S. President George W Bush. So gushing were they in their praise of each other that many were left wondering just what lay behind this powerful 'charm offensive'.... The conclusion reached by some was that both leaders are pursuing agendas which leave them vulnerable to criticism--and that each is therefore eager to turn a blind eye to the faults of the other.... The fact that President Bush was welcomed upon his arrival in Tokyo by sound trucks deployed by right-wing elements suggested that nationalist elements are happy about the cover which the U.S. is providing to Japan. Some might argue that the Bush-Koizumi axis could turn out to be an unholy alliance as much as a marriage of convenience."
THAILAND: "Aftermath Of President Bush's Trip"
Supachai Payakkan commented in mass-appeal, Thai-language Daily News (2/24): "It is fair to say that President Bush's trip to the three Asian countries did not carry that many highlights. Except for anti-terrorism cooperation and the friendly atmosphere that resulted from a softer stance toward the Axis of Evil issue, nothing else stood out."
VIETNAM: "An Unlucky Trip"
Hong Ky wrote in Quan Doi Nhan Dan, the daily of the Vietnam People's Army (2/23): "Bush's new year trip to Japan, South Korea and China was not successful as expected... South Korea's faint hope to persuade the U.S. to somewhat adjust its policy toward North Korea was completely dashed when Bush refused to give up calling North Korea an element of 'the axis of evil.'... The U.S. request for China to discontinue its scientific and high-tech cooperation with North Korea and Iran was flatly rejected by Beijing... The making and implementing of U.S. foreign policy, including its Asia-Pacific policy, is always to serve the goal of ensuring that the U.S. plays the leading role in each region and in the world. This is something unacceptable, even to the U.S's closest allies."
BRITAIN: "Eyeballing Kim Jong Il"
The independent Economist offered this view (2/23): "Clearly uneasy at Mr. Bush's unvarnished language, South Korea's president, Kim Dae Jung, has long hoped he could melt the ice between North and South Korea.... Noisy demonstrators in Seoul this week were blaming Mr. Bush for undermining this 'sunshine' policy. But the critics are wrong.... It was the implacability with which [Kim Jung Il] repaid the southern Mr. Kim's proffered generosity that blotted the sunshine. Much to the North's annoyance, Mr. Bush, mindful that North Korea has broken arms control agreements in the past, sets a lot of store by verification.... Why is the North dragging its feet? In the same way, North Korea resents Mr. Bush's efforts to widen any future dialogue to include the threat from conventional forces. Yet he wants a more comprehensive security dialogue precisely to break North Korea away from its habit of provoking crises in the expectation of a pay-off, since buying off bad behavior only encourages more. At least here Mr. Bush's critics are right: He is indeed trying to change the pattern of America's relations with North Korea. And not before time, since the old pattern only fed the notion that North Korea was a law unto itself."
The independent Financial Times commented (2/22): “Mr. Bush’s visit to Beijing brought no breakthroughs on the key issues. For Washington, greater Chinese cooperation in efforts to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has become the touchstone of closer relations. But China failed to reassure the U.S. that it would comply with an international accord limiting the export of missile technology to unstable regions.”
"Bush Should Have Talked Tough To An Ailing Japan"
The lead editorial in the conservative Times read (2/19): "President Bush should have been much tougher yesterday in his criticism of Japan's feeble handling of its chronic economic problems. Similarly, in South Korea, economic concerns should dominate Bush's message. [Economic concerns] will play the biggest part in determining these countries' relations with the U.S. and the developed world, more than any support that they profess on terrorism, where Bush is preaching to the nervous but fully converted. In the past month, Japan's predicament has got worse.... Koizumi's popularity has plunged since he sacked his popular foreign minister; public debt has risen past 130 percent of GDP, the highest of any industrialised economy.... The risk is that Japan will decide that the most comfortable thing to do about its economy is nothing. Bush could do the world a service--and the U.S. economy, and so himself--by making that choice much less comfortable."
FRANCE: "Bush Fails To Mobilize Asia Against 'Axis Of Evil'"
Francois Hauter judged in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/23): "George Bush and Ziang Jemin disagree on everything but are happy to have developed a personal relationship. Normalization between the U.S. and China is the main achievement of the U.S. president's Asian tour.... While there was no concrete progress made on major issues of disagreement, relations between China and the U.S. have become more civilized, friendly even.... But the latest U.S. escalation in its fight against terrorism does not appeal to any of the Asian countries [visited]. On this particular issue, President Bush's visit can be considered a failure."
"Bush And Jiang Zemin Reassure Each Other In Beijing"
Pierre Haski wrote in left-of-center Liberation (2/22): "It took Bill Clinton more than a year to go from campaigning for human rights to an open trade policy; George Bush only took a few months...to put Beijing and Washington back on course.... It is true that September 11 had something to do with it.... Beijing had the tact to place itself in the ranks of the enemies of terrorism.... Forgotten were the unhappy memories of the collision between the spy-plane and the Chinese fighter.... Nothing could spoil this reunion...not even the discovery of bugs last month in the Chinese presidential Boeing.... No mention of the 'Axis of Evil'...nor the thorny relationship with Taiwan.... We are far from the intimacy that George Bush shares with Vladimir Putin, but by inviting Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao to the U.S. the American president is dealing diplomatically with the present while preparing for the future. He has elevated the Sino-American relationship to a point that was difficult to imagine before September 11."
“Bush Testing ‘Axis Of Evil’ In Asia”
Philippe Pons opined in left-of-center Le Monde (2/19): “Criticized abroad for the slowness with which it is handling the deterioration of the economic situation, Japan is in no way up to shirking U.S. demands in terms of security. During the last few weeks, Washington has adopted an aggressive tone and accused Tokyo of deliberately provoking a drop in the yen to promote exports. For the Bush administration, economic and security matters are linked, a weakened Japanese ally leaves a regional geopolitical gap in which China could fall.… George Bush’s rhetoric does not take into account the efforts that have been made by the two Koreas to come together.… The verbal attack made by the American president against Pyongyang is a new blow, given unceremoniously, to Korean sensibilities."
GERMANY: "Chinese Authoritarianism: How Little Has Changed"
Right-of-center Osnabruecker Zeitung observed (2/25): "President Bush was allowed to praise democracy in public, to celebrate American values, and to call on his hosts to allow more freedom of speech. In this sense, China opened itself up to criticism, but it was only a very limited sign of progress. After all, there were no positive Chinese reactions to Bush's statements. On the contrary: The arrest of 47 Chinese Christians during Bush's visit highlights how little has changed about the country's authoritarianism."
"Not Much More Than Simple Statement"
Otto Mann noted in an editorial in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (2/23): "The Chinese told Bush that they are in the same boat [in the fight against terror], and they were pleased when the U.S. president told them that they, too, are threatened. But Bush did not get much more then this simple statement from the Chinese.... After all, China has very good relations with the 'rogue states' lined up on the 'axis of evil,' and it has no intention of getting involved in military campaigns. With a surprising degree of insight, Bush explained that dialogue and diplomacy might be used in some places and that China might make a good mediator in these cases."
"Bush's Asian Axis"
Sophie Muehlmann judged in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/22): "While Europe is complaining about the unilateral moves of the U.S., the U.S. president is trying to consolidate his anti-terror alliance in Eastern Asia. This was not a bad time in view of the military success in Afghanistan. But the signals emanating from his trip are ambiguous, his statements too contradictory in order to create a new dimension of the axis between the Far East and the U.S.. Bush's hosts also have priorities which they cannot and do not want to leave aside. The president's rhetoric may have a favorable effect in the U.S., but the focus on terrorism alone will not be enough when the issue is to eliminate problems in bilateral relations€. 'Those who are no for us, are against us,' said the president during a stopover before U.S. soldiers. They cheered at such vigorous words. But global solidarity, including the one in Asia, is threatening to get weaker. The president must do more to link rhetoric, military policy, and foreign policy in a convincing way."
"Bush's Choice Of Words"
Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/19) opined: "The latest slip of the tongue, which will certainly be included in the growing collection of Bush's verbal slip-ups, was evidence not only of Bush's difficulties with his own language but also evidence of the quality of his state visit to Japan. At issue were not essential problems, but hectically arranged phrases to save face according to the rule: Old friends help each other. Bush supports Koizumi against skeptical voters and arch-conservative party members, while the Japanese premier helps the American president in his fight against the 'axis of evil.' More was not expected. Not even the renewed U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol caused a tinge of criticism among the Japanese. On the contrary."
ITALY: "Bush: 'China Needs Freedom'"
Mario Platero filed from Beijing in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (2/23): "The president's Asian trip served, most of all, to clarify the dynamics of the war on terrorism. The goals have been defined, but will be pursued mainly through dialogue. America asked Japan to mediate with Iran, and China to mediate with North Korea. The invitation to dialogue issued by Bush, however, seems to have irritated the North Koreans even more than their country's inclusion in the 'evil axis.'... But Bush's trip served also to lay the basis for a new geo-political equilibrium. Japan will have to resign itself to China's growing role, especially if it fails to restore order to its economy. And Bush began a relaxed dialogue with Beijing."
"Beijing, Jiang Cools Bush's (Enthusiasm)"
Vittorio Zucconi's reported from Beijing in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (2/22): "In Beijing, the only capital in the world that is able to look at America straight in the eyes without lowering their own, the American president, slightly overawed, had to listen to Jiang Zemin...while the latter was giving him the old lecture on peace and 'coexistence,' if he wanted to obtain China's solidarity in the war on terrorism.... Side by side with old Jiang Zemin...Bush must suffer and be silent because he does not have any warnings to give. On the contrary, he has favors to ask, (including) mediating actions with the 'evil states'...along with political support. In fact, without China, the concrete...pillar of the Asian continent, a worldwide coalition against terrorism would be an abstract concept."
"Beijing Gives The Green Light To USA On Iraq"
Mario Platero reported from Beijing in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (2/22): "The language, the mood, the objectives of yesterday's meeting would have been unbelievable even just a year ago, when the new Bush administration had decided to carry out its usual aggressive rhetoric, addressed directly...against China; just as unbelievable as yesterday's request for help...on the part of the American President, who said: '... my offer of an opening to North Korea remains valid, we would like to meet with the leadership of North Korea. And I've asked Jiang Zemin to take this message to Kim Jong Il.... America is then officially asking China to mediate on its behalf. The U.S. did the same two days ago in Japan for Iran. The inflexible, tough positions that seemed to define 'the evil axis' are now becoming softer. Jiang agreed to the U.S. request because, he said, the 'Korean Peninsula is close (to us),' adding immediately that '...Iraq is not as close.' China does certainly prefer peaceful solutions, however, and that statement indicates a green light for the Americans on Iraq. And Washington, through its National Security Council Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, is again showing its cautious face."
“Bush Acts Like A Samurai, But Does Not Convince Tokyo”
Ennio Caretto filed from Tokyo in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/19): “This is not what George Bush was expecting. His stop in Tokyo, the first in his trip to Asia, highlighted differences within the coalition against terrorism instead of overcoming them. The American president did not obtain the green light from Japan on a possible attack against Iraq and a confrontation with North Korea. On the contrary, he had to accept a mediation offer with Iran. And today, in South Korea...protesters are waiting for him.”
RUSSIA: "It's Just A Visit"
Andrei Ivanov commented in the reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (2/22): "The U.S. president's visit to China has created no sensation--the sides have failed to agree on a number of key issues. But Bush has certainly been a success in getting U.S.-Chinese relations back to the 'quite passable' level that his predecessor Bill Clinton had a hard time establishing."
Natalia Babasian remarked in reformist Izvestiya (2/22): "Exchanging pleasantries has not removed the basic differences between the U.S. and China."
"Not Exactly Welcome"
The official parliamentary Parlamentskaya Gazeta said in a report by Aleksandr Buzin and Vladimir Yelizavetin in Seoul (2/19): "South Korea was the next stage of the U.S. president's tour. Not everybody in Seoul was ready to give him a heartfelt welcome. South Koreans have been increasingly critical of Bush lately, not without reason, accusing him of creating tension on the Korean Peninsula, heedless of Seoul's opinion."
BELGIUM: "Bush In Asia"
Foreign affairs writer Francis Van den Berghe wrote in independent, Christian-Democrat De Standaard (2/23): "Bush went to Japan mainly to give the Prime Minister some support. He praised him as a leader who is capable of dragging Japan out of the recession.... In South Korea, Bush had harder nuts to crack.... Some said that he came to heat up the tensions on the Korean peninsula. Allegedly, his policy jeopardized South Korean President Kim Dae-jung rapprochement to North Korea..... To the relief of the South Koreans, Bush assured them that he did not have the intention to invade North Korea. He appealed for a new dialogue with the Communist North....
“[In China] Bush and Jiang kept their distrust and disagreement under the carpet. Taiwan was discussed ‘in sordino.’ Both parties view the development of political and economic relations as much more important now that China’s power is growing and Beijing has become a member of the WTO.... Japan, which is always afraid of friction between Washington and Beijing, should be satisfied. But, it fears that China receives too much attention. Didn’t Bush promise, when he took office, that Japan remains the 'cornerstone’ of America’s Asia policy?”
FINLAND: "Sense Of Reality Accompanied Bush On His Asian Tour"
Leading, independent Helsingin Sanomat editorialized (2/23): "The series of visits to Japan, South Korea and China clarified the U.S. policy line and seems also to have calmed people's concerns. The tone of Bush's public appearances was mostly businesslike and dispassionate. In Beijing, Bush strongly stressed freedom of religion and human rights. Americans always expect this from their President when he visits in countries ruled by dictatorial regimes. China's record is anything but good on this score. In the dialogues on human rights and freedom, there is always the slight flavor of compulsory theater, but the significance of the actual dialogues should not be underestimated.... A single appearance of the President of the United States does not change the situation in any direction, but one day the Chinese dictatorship will have to start listening to the Chinese people."
HUNGARY: "China Is No Rival But Partner”
Gyula Ortutay, the Beijing correspondent of leading Nepszabadsag (2/22) noted: “The expectation of George W. Bush’s recent visit is that it strengthens the bilateral relations and will bury the bad memory of last year’s spy-plane incident at the Island of Hainan. It should be more the task of President Bush to prove that the early distrust can be bridged. President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972 was a breakthrough. Since then the policy toward China has always been a big dilemma to each U.S. President. In the end each president sought cooperation with the Asian leader to eliminate confrontation.”
IRELAND: "Despite Smiles Bush Fails To Secure Arms Control Deal"
Miriam Donohoe reported from Beijing in the liberal Irish Times (2/22): "President Bush failed yesterday in his mission to strike an arms control deal with China which would halt the sale of weapons by Beijing to so-called rogue states. The U.S. leader had hoped to make progress on securing agreement...to prevent the sale of missile and nuclear technology to nations hostile to the U.S.... While masking clear differences on proliferation, Taiwan, and human rights, the two leaders stressed that bilateral ties were on the mend."
NORWAY: “George Bush And The Chinese”
Newspaper of record Aftenposten (2/24) held: “The tangible results of President George W. Bush’s official visit to China this week lie in the future and beyond the horizon. Not least due to this, the American and Chinese leaders have put the greatest emphasis on its symbolic value.... But Bush also showed up at a university podium in Beijing, and he did not back away from admitting that poverty and crime in the U.S. are a problem. In countries with regimes that do their best to silence and deny these kinds of undesired phenomena, this makes a much stronger and much more solid impression than we tend to think. A cost to him that Bush has chosen to bear was the consequences of his statement nearly one month ago that three Asian countries are an ‘axis of evil.’ His hosts both in Beijing and Seoul did not like this, nor were there enthusiastic messages from Europe. Inspired as it is by President Reagan’s judgment of the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire,’ it is perhaps worth remembering that Soviet dissidents at the time valued the phrase. There were a few of them who believed that psychiatric medication and forced testimony from opposition members, to take just one example, was rather evil.”
POLAND: "Tripartite Summit In Beijing”
Leopold Unger wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (2/23-24): “The summit was only formally bilateral. In practice, there was a ‘third man’ in Beijing, i.e. Putin.... He was in Beijing in spirit to call to mind that solving the problems on the list of mankind’s global concerns will require America’s loyal cooperation not only with China, but also with Russia.”
“President Bush In Beijing”
Jacek Potocki wrote in center-left Zycie Warszawy (2/23-24): “China’s support for the war on terrorism is advantageous to the Middle Kingdom. The West would weaken its criticism of Beijing’s crackdown on Uygur Islamic separatists in Xinjiang, and it will tone down its attacks on China concerning the country’s policy toward Tibet. By fighting with all possible means any terrorism of Islamic connotation the Americans have lost their arguments against China which they used in the UN Human Rights Committee.”
ROMANIA: "30 Years After Nixon And Mao"
Political analyst Roxana Frosin commented in business-oriented Curentul (2/22): "Exactly 30 years after Nixon was shook hands with Mao Zedong, marking the start of anti-Soviet cooperation between the U.S. and China, Bush repeated the gesture of his predecessor, this time with a modern Asian President, who preaches 'communism with a human face.' The handshake in Beijing, shown in press photographs, is, this time, not only a pact against a Russia which currently has maybe the best relations in its history with the U.S., but also the sign of an understanding which is profitable for both sides. Because, in the Chinese capital, the leader of the White House was reassured yesterday of the support of this big Asian country in the fight against terrorism, offering in exchange promises of aid and economic cooperation to a recently WTO integrated country, which is currently trying, with many chances to succeed, to dethrone Japan from its position as king of the Asian economies, in order to become in only a few decades the world number two in this field. With so much at stake, it is not difficult to understand why both George Bush and Jiang Zemin played their roles impeccably in the theatre of international anti-terrorist reconciliation, whose grand opening was marked by the September 11th tragic events."
SPAIN: “Mr. Bush Goes To China”
Left-of-Center El Pais noted (2/24): “The U.S. Military deployment in Central Asia because of the Afghanistan war cannot possibly please Beijing. The promotion of democracy, along with any attempt to control nuclear ballistic missile proliferation--even if in such an episodic way--is always to be praised. But the visit to China shows the limitations of the U.S. world hegemony. Iraq may one day pay for having provided itself with weapons of mass destruction. With China, however, the only thing Bush can do is to demand that it does not spread a technology that can easily get out of control.”
“The Chinese Partner”
Left-of-Center El Pais declared (2/23): “China, while not reaching Putin’s level of enthusiasm, has also changed its attitude towards the U.S.... However, not everything is collaboration.... Bush’s visit to China might not be regarded as the culminating point of relations between the two countries, but Bush’s promise, in the sense that he says the U.S. regards China as a 'partner', seems to hint at a willingness to establish a stable relationship. In any case, the only superpower and the emerging giant still have to overcome major obstacles to admit that they’re committed to understand each other.”
EGYPT: “The Lesson of Korea and the Cases of Iraq and Iran”
Leading, pro-government Al Ahram’s unsigned editorial observed (2/24): “In his important visit to South Korea, President Bush had apparently discovered the negative impact of his State of the Union Speech about the Axis of Evil.... He understood and realized the South Korean insistence on achieving the historic dream of unifying the Koreas.... The way South Korea dealt with its closest ally, the U.S., concerning its strategic aim of uniting with North Korea may be a clear lesson to Arab and Islamic countries about the American intentions toward Iraq and Iran. These countries, especially U.S. friends, can now make protests about placing Iraq and Iran in the Axis of Evil so as to push the American decision-maker to change this formula.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "America Between Two Wars"
London based, Pan-Arab Al-Hayat editorialized (2/21): "President Bush's Asian trip to gain support for his holy war against the 'Axis of Evil' reminds us of 'The Truman Doctrine,' which tried to get the world's support, during the Cold War, against the former Soviet Union.... President Bush wants to protect the world from the 'Axis of Evil.' He wanted to mislead the world by adding North Korea to the list of evils, while his war is only against the Islamic World."
CANADA: "Bush Is Softening"
Julie Lemieux wrote in Quebec City's centrist, French-language Le Soleil (2/22): "The visit of President George W. Bush to Asia could have turned into sheer provocation. After all, the American President had just said North Korea was part of the Axis of Evil that should be dismantled. Instead Mr. Bush chose the wiser and more promising path of negotiations.... Firm allied opposition to widening the war on terrorism to Iraq, Iran and North Korea is not the only reason why the President had to nuance his rhetoric. Many Americans questioned his strategy.... The President cannot disregard the opinion of American voters.... Mr. Bush's diplomatic approach would have been more successful had he not first chosen the path of confrontation. But all hope is not lost. The promise of the Chinese and South Korean presidents to help the Americans reopen the negotiations could help mend bridges."
BRAZIL: "Bush Shapes Relations With China"
International affairs writer Jaime Spitzcovsky declared in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (2/21): "President Bush arrives today in Beijing with the purpose of molding relations with a nation that was called the U.S.'s most difficult strategic challenge in the 21st Century.... Washington wants to obtain more cooperation from China in the anti-terror campaign and in the fight against what it has called the 'axis of evil'.... The unexpected quick victory [in Afghanistan] caused euphoria in the USG, which has resumed the unilateralist posture of the beginning of the Bush Administration.... Beijing's priority is to advance pro-capitalism reforms, punctuated by China's entry in the WTO. Therefore, the Chinese Communist Party is aware that to remain in power it must maintain the economy's fast growth. While Bush emphasizes discussions on terrorism, human rights and Taiwan, his colleague Jiang Zemin will prefer to talk about investment and international trade."
"Support To The Japanese Ally"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo commented (2/21): "The USG cannot do much to help the Japanese economy directly. The most Bush could do now is to help Prime Minister Koizumi politically. This is a prerequisite for any efficient economic initiative.... The fact that Bush used the word 'deflation' instead of 'devaluation' in a press conference is a more picturesque than important detail. Bush is not always fortunate in choosing words, and sometimes is even more awkward with concepts.... South Korea is conducting a great effort towards a rapprochement with North Korea, and Bush's rhetoric certainly does not make that easier."