International Information Programs
February 24, 2005

February 24, 2005





**  Pro-Beijing dailies term the statement's mention of Taiwan "blatant meddling."

**  Taiwanese media see "increasing uneasiness about China's growing military might."

**  Regional outlets stress China's role in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.

**  Japanese papers are uneasy over the "expanded SDF role" around the world.




'Brazenly interfering in China's internal affairs'--  Pro-PRC media said the "domineering and ridiculous" joint security statement posed a "direct challenge" to Chinese "sovereignty, territorial integrity, and state security" because for the "first time...the Taiwan question has been explicitly mentioned" in the context of the U.S.-Japan alliance.  The "crude" statement, noted official Xinhua Daily Telegraph, is aimed at "creating an obstacle to the...great cause of reunifying the motherland."  Several Chinese outlets concluded that the U.S. and Japan clearly "regard Taiwan as a tool for containing China"; official People's Daily accused both of "looking for an excuse for their military prepare for containing China."


'A prudent and vigilant attitude' to Beijing--  The joint declaration, said Taiwanese observers, seeks to "deter China from using force to alter the status quo."  The U.S. and Japan have "begun to feel the threat of Beijing's growing military strength," added conservative China Post, and Tokyo will now "assume a bigger role in blocking" China's military expansion.  Pro-independence outlets hailed the "clear intention to protect democratic Taiwan" as a shift from previous "timidity and appeasement" of China.  But conservative papers warned Taiwanese against "publicly gloating."  Singapore's pro-government Straits Times urged the U.S. and Japan to "take great care not to encourage pro-independence sentiments" in Taiwan.


'Beijing's mediation is a must'--  Regional outlets urged "careful and sensitive" diplomacy to solve the North Korea issue, which is "more of a headache for the U.S and Japan than the cross-Strait situation."  The U.S. and Japan "clearly hope that Beijing can play a constructive mediating role" with Pyongyang, but independent Hong Kong Economic Times cautioned that Taiwan's inclusion in their joint statement makes it unlikely they can "obtain China's cooperation."  Japan's moderate Yomiuri added that China's role towards the DPRK will test its "willingness to become a trustworthy diplomatic player."


Japan must 'make its own independent decisions'--  Observers labeled the statement a "demonstration of Japan's willingness to confront the rapidly growing might of China."  Chinese critics accused Japan of "blindly deepening" the alliance; pro-PRC Macau Daily News predicted Tokyo "will further interfere" in Taiwan affairs.  Japanese papers focused on the "major shift" that, according to liberal Asahi, will create a "strengthened military alliance beyond just the Asia-Pacific region," with Tokyo playing a "much more important role."  Liberal Japanese critics called for "significantly reducing the security burden" of U.S. bases in Okinawa.  Left-of-center Okinawa Times demanded a "large-scale reduction of the massive burden" of the bases.


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprites foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 37 reports from 7 entities over 17 - 23 February 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.




CHINA:  "U.S. Steps Up Surveillance On China People’s Liberation Army (PLA)"


Li Qingsi and Qiu Yongzheng commented in official Elite Reference (Qingnian Cankao) (2/23):  "U.S. senior level military officials have clearly decided to pay close attention to China’s military strength, as intelligence gathering is now squarely focused on the PLA.  Such information gathering is another example of the complexity in U.S.-China relations.  Negative factors affecting relations between the countries are on the rise.  An important factor influencing rising negativity is the U.S. Congress, and its consideration of the 2006 allocation budget.  Government departments try to use ‘China threats’ to persuade congressmen to spend more on the military and other areas where China is a concern.  Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told the truth several days ago when he said ‘No matter how much the Chinese political system is changing, China will always be the U.S.’ main opponent.’  The U.S. is planning to set up a dialogue mechanism with China.  Such a measure could help improve understanding and cooperation between the two militaries.”


"Be Vigilant Against Japan's Gradual-advancement-style Of Occupying Diaoyu Islands [Senkaku Islands]"


Liu Hua stated in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (2/22):  "For more than 20 years, every step of Japan's on the Diaoyu Islands has not been big, but these steps have built up, and have already taken a big stride compared to the situation at the beginning of the 70s....  If China does not have too loud a response over Japan's last step [taking control of a lighthouse on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands], Japan is very likely take the next step at the right moment, and the level height of the next step will be decided according to the backdrop of international relations as well as the domestic situation in China and Japan at that time."


"U.S.-Japan Meddling In China's Internal Affair Over Taiwan"


Fei Li commented in the official English-language China Daily (2/22):  "Any country's desire for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question is appreciated. However, if such a goal is listed as a strategic objective, then it is nothing short of blatant meddling in China's internal affairs, and amounts to a direct challenge to our sovereignty, territorial integrity and State security.  Such is the case with a statement issued by the United States and Japan on Saturday, which aims ‘encourage the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Straits through dialogue’ as one of their 12 common strategic objectives in the Asia-Pacific region.  This is the first time that the Taiwan question has been explicitly mentioned in the two countries' alliance. This is an irresponsible and reckless move that will have grave consequences.  Although the aim of the strategy is to help maintain stability in the Taiwan Straits, this joint statement will instead become a destabilizing factor by sending the wrong signal to independence forces on the island.  The latest move shows that Washington is officially enlisting Tokyo's help in its designs for Taiwan.  However, both Washington and Tokyo should know that China will not budge or waver when it comes to the Taiwan question, which is one of its core national issues.  Besides contributing negatively to the stability in the Taiwan Straits, Sino-US and Sino-Japanese relations are also among the causalities of this statement.”


"U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration Doesn’t Have New Meanings, But Has Deep Meanings"


Weng Xiang asserted in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (2/22):  "An important part of U.S. China policy is to use Taiwan to contain China, and is so doing delay China’s peaceful development.  This policy is behind the U.S.-Japan joint declaration--the two countries want to delay China’s economic and military growth.  To prevent any Asian country from ‘growing into a giant’ has always been the U.S. policy....  The Pentagon’s Douglas Feith recently grouped China’s military development in the same category with WMD and terrorism as major security threats to the U.S.  This type of rhetoric confirms that the U.S. is very uneasy about the peaceful rise of China.  The U.S. and Japan’s decision to include the security of Taiwan among their ‘common strategic goals’ is clear proof of this uneasiness.”


"Japan-U.S. Security Cooperation Breaches Bilateral Framework"


Official People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) declared (2/21):  "Japan and the United States listed the Taiwan issue and problems in the Korean Peninsula as part of their 'common strategic objectives' in a joint statement....  The Japanese-US security cooperation mechanism has breached a bilateral framework and is set for substantial changes....  The military alliance between Japan and the U.S. is a bilateral arrangement set against the backdrop of the Cold War....  Japan proved itself a resolute supporter of the U.S. by sending troops to Iraq, which also added new momentum to their alliance.  However, by listing the Taiwan issue, which includes encouraging a peaceful solution to the problem through dialogue and more military transparency by the Chinese mainland, into their 'common strategic objectives' in the Asian-Pacific region, Japan and the US are interfering with China's internal affairs and creating an impediment to its great cause for reunification....  China hopes the U.S. and Japan will fully consider the interests and concerns of other countries and contribute more to peace and stability across the Asia-Pacific region."


"U.S. And Japan, Do Not Bring Trouble To The Taiwan Strait"


Yu Shan wrote in official People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) (2/21):  "This is brazen provocation and interference towards China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security, and the Chinese people will in no way tolerate this....  The U.S. and Japan creating a clamour about the 'China military threat theory' is nothing but looking for an excuse for their military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, to serve as a foil for encroaching on and interfering with China's sovereignty, and to prepare for containing China....  The U.S. and Japan issuing a joint statement on the Taiwan Strait issue looks as though they are most concerned about the stability of the Taiwan Strait, but they are in fact sending the wrong signals to 'Taiwan independence' forces, and encouraging 'Taiwan independence' forces to take risks."


"U.S.-Japanese Statement Increases Political Uncertainty In East Asia"


Official Beijing News (Xin Jing Bao) noted (2/21):  "If the Taiwan authorities blindly take risks, if the Japanese right wingers continue

to create the old dream of a 'Japan-Taiwan alliance', fantasize about using Taiwan as a breach to curb China, and achieve Japan's 'revival', China will have no choice but to make a choice which the US, the East Asian world and China itself will be unwilling to adopt, in that case, the one which will suffer disaster in the end will not only be China (including the Taiwan area), it will also be hard for Japan, the US and the entire East Asian region to escape from it."


"U.S. And Japan Security Declaration Harms Others And Does Not Benefit Themselves"


Sun Shengliang argued in official Beijing News (Xin Jing Bao) (2/21):  "Obviously, the real intention of the US and Japan is only to use the ' military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait' as an excuse, regard China as an 'imaginary enemy', continue to play the old trick of 'using Taiwan to contain China', and regard Taiwan as a tool for containing China's development."


"What Is The Intention Of The Japan-U.S. '2+2' Meeting?"


Wu Gufeng commented in official Xinhua Daily Telegraph (Xinhua Meiri Dianxun) (2/21):  "It is thus evident that the Japan-US military alliance has already exceeded the scope of a bilateral arrangement, and further qualitative changes are occurring in the Japan-US security setup.  The aim of the 'common strategic objectives' for strengthening the Japan-US military alliance decided on by this '2+2' meeting was to tally with US global strategy....  Japan will get involved in US global strategy, and the two countries will be very tightly bound in their military alliance, and will proceed to attain Japan-US military integration....  What merits vigilance is, the Japan-US '2+2' meeting included as Japan-US 'common strategic objectives' in the Asia-Pacific region...the Taiwan issue, which involves China's national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national security...thus brazenly interfering in China's internal affairs and creating an obstacle to the Chinese people's great cause of reunifying the motherland.   The Chinese Government and people naturally resolutely oppose this crude behavior by Japan and the U.S.  China practices a peaceful foreign policy of acting independently and keeping the initiative in its own hands and a defensive national defense policy, and unswervingly follows the path of peaceful development....  No one who makes irresponsible remarks about China's national defense construction, which is carried out for the purpose of preserving national security and territorial integrity, has a leg to stand on....  Japan and the U.S. should completely get rid of their Cold War mentality, take into full consideration the interests and concerns of other Asian-Pacific countries, and do nothing that does not benefit peace and stability throughout the region.  People with foresight in Japan feel profoundly worried that Japan is blindly deepening the Japan-US military alliance relationship regardless of the consequences."


"U.S. CIA Director Exaggerates Claim Of China Military Buildup"


Zou Dehao commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (2/17):  "We denounce U.S. CIA Director Porter Goss’s statement that China’s military buildup is tilting the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait and is a threat to the U.S. interests in the region....  Goss’s statement is not in step with prior statements made by President Bush on the issue, and therefore not a signal of change in U.S. Taiwan policy....  In making such statements, Goss may be trying to combat recent allegations of low efficiency and frequent mistakes at the CIA, and find a reason to ask Bush for additional funding for the organization....  Granted, the nature of his job requires Goss to exaggerate security threats, but he is unfair and incorrect about China’s threat."


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Be Aware Of Japan-U.S. Strategy To Check China"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily declared (2/22):  "The foreign ministers and defense chiefs of both Japan and the U.S...issued a joint declaration.  It is the first time that they included 'the Taiwan issue' as a 'common strategic objective' of Japan and the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific area.  They said that they would encourage both side across the strait to resolve the issue peacefully via dialogue and they were concerned about China's military build-up.  The joint declaration adopted a 'low-tone' on the Taiwan Strait issue and they did not clearly include the Taiwan Strait in their scope of bilateral defense....  However, they have included the Taiwan issue in their declaration, which is a subject on China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security.  It clearly shows that Japan has strong issues with China.  Thus, its strategic intention to join with the U.S. to contain China is very obvious."


"Taiwan Strait Will Have Fierce Waves"


Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (2/21):  "The U.S. and Japan announced that they would 'encourage a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue through dialogue.'  And, they made it their common strategic objective.  This is the first time the U.S. and Japan raised the Taiwan Strait issue to a level of common strategy.  Obviously, they are putting pressure on China.  Is it an adjustment of the U.S. on its China policy?  Is it trying to emphasize the competitive relations with China?....  It is difficult to know what Bush is thinking.  However, if he really wants to treat China as a strategic competitor, it will be contradictory to the overall interests of the U.S.  If Bush plans to make counter terrorism as the axis of his internal and external policies, he must obtain China's cooperation....  China's role in containing North Korea will be good for U.S.  Besides, U.S. transnational enterprises are eyeing the huge China market.  Tense Sino-U.S. relations will only hurt their interests.  Hence, if Bush forces China to stand at the opposite, he has to pay the price."


"U.S. And Japan Should Rein In"


Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News editorialized (2/21):  "When the U.S. and Japan signed their treaty of mutual cooperation and security in 1996, they came up with the idea of 'situations in areas surrounding Japan.'  However, it was never made clear whether cross-strait conflicts would fall within the scope of U.S.-Japan security.  China repeatedly pressed Japan and the U.S. for clarification, but they remained evasive and equivocal.  Now they have expressly listed the resolution of the Taiwan question as one of their strategic security objectives.  Though the statement says the two countries would encourage the 'peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Strait through dialogue,' their blatant internationalization of the Taiwan question would not make it easier to solve it but would encourage Taiwan independence advocates in Taiwan.  If, as a result, a Taiwan-independence situation arises, the mainland will be compelled to take military action to deal with it.  In that event, the U.S. and Japan will be dragged into the whirlpool of war.  What they have done would harm them and others....  China does not need the U.S. or Japan to encourage it to participate in regional or global security affairs.  What it needs them to do is to avoid interfering in the Taiwan issue.  Therefore, the joint statement that the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee issued yesterday is a declaration of their misguided position resulting from misjudgment.  It will eventually lead to mistakes." 


"Japan Is Concerned About The Taiwan Strait And Countries Are Concerned About Japan"


Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News said (2/21):  "The U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee issued a joint declaration yesterday.  They listed, for the first time, the Taiwan issue among their common strategic objective.  Although they slightly adjusted the sensitive wording and did not directly say that they would be involved in the cross-strait issue, their stances were very obvious.  The U.S. and Japan have joined together to use the Taiwan card to put pressure on China....  People should pay attention so that this is not a one-off action by the U.S. and Japan but it may turn into a fixed policy.  Although the U.S. and Japan said that they hoped to solve the Taiwan issue peacefully, they actually meant Beijing should not take military action.  The Taiwan authority will feel more secure when it knows that it has strong backing.  Activities promoting Taiwan independence like 'transit diplomacy,' 'pragmatic diplomacy,' Lee Teng-hui's trips, etc., may continue to increase.  If it is the case, Beijing will not sit still and see.  Thus, the cross-strait outlook is not optimistic." 


"A Domineering And Ridiculous Statement"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao opined (2/21):  "After an intense publicity campaign, the U.S. and Japan finally held the so-called 'U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee' meeting yesterday....  The content of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee joint declaration has gone beyond the scope of U.S.-Japan security.  It is the first time they considered the Taiwan issue, which is a subject of China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security.  Their target is very clear.  The U.S. and Japan are joining hands diplomatically to target China....  This U.S.-Japan move has not only interfered in China's internal affairs and questioned China's unification, but has also hindered a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan Strait issue.  Furthermore, it has injected tense factors into the Taiwan Strait.  Now, they try to pretend to be 'peaceful angles' who can safeguard the Taiwan Strait.  Is this action ridiculous, and are they being domineering?"


"U.S.-Japan Military Power Threatens Peace In Asia-Pacific"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po stated (2/21):  "The U.S. and Japan issued a joint declaration which included the Taiwan Strait as the common strategic objective.  It shows the rapidly growing strategic wish of the U.S. and Japan.  This has seriously jeopardized the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific area.  Not only does the Chinese government and its people object to the statement, but so do people in Asian countries.  At the moment, the U.S. and Japan are most concerned about the DPRK nuclear crisis.  On the one hand, the U.S. and Japan need China to mediate.  On the other hand, they are seriously interfering in China's internal affairs and sovereignty.  In order to cover their vicious moves, the U.S. and Japan packaged their statement softly as 'alleviating the situation in the Taiwan Strait.'  However, this cannot cover their actual objective of adjusting their defense cooperation."  


"U.S.-Japan Security Statement Will Not Be Good For Peace In Taiwan Straits"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (2/20):  "The 'U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting' was held in Washington....  In the meetings, apart from discussing the deployment of Japan and U.S. forces, they also included the Taiwan issue as a new security issue.  According to reports, a U.S.-Japan security declaration will be issued after the meeting that will, for the first time, include the Taiwan Strait issue in their common strategic objective.  Japan will coordinate with the U.S. to take military actions in Asia and other regions and Japan will further interfere in cross-strait affairs."


TAIWAN:   "Joint U.S.-Japan Effort To Contain A Rising China"


The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post noted (2/23):  "We in Taiwan must not see Saturday’s joint declaration by Washington and Tokyo...simply as an expression of a shared concern about the security of this island....  The noticeable inclusion also reflected the two countries’ increasing uneasiness about China’s growing military might and a concerted effort by them to keep an emerging superpower in check.  Taiwan surely should welcome the U.S. and Japan’s proclamation....  But Taipei needs to understand that the decision by the two governments for the first time to cover Taiwan, along with North Korea, in their bilateral security treaty as an issue of concern was prompted also by their own strategic interests....  The reason that Washington wanted to put Taiwan into the joint U.S.-Japan declaration might not entirely be a consideration for this island’s security.  Rather the U.S. government hoped that Japan from now on assume a bigger role in blocking the military expansion of China.  This is because the U.S., too, has begun to feel the threat of Beijing’s growing military strength....  In short, Taipei must not unrealistically take Tokyo and Washington’s heightened concern about Taiwan’s security as a new policy of their willingness to side with this island against Beijing.  It would be seriously wrong to believe that this island could thus push ahead with plans to pursue formal independence without having to worry about retaliation from China.  The U.S. and Japan...meant that neither side should provoke the other by seeking to change the status quo.  Any attempt by Taipei to use the newfound opportunity to build an alliance with the U.S. and Japan to antagonize China would also be seriously wrong....  Even Washington and Tokyo, while wary of China’s growing military strength, want to do their best to improve their relations with that country, rather than pursuing a confrontational approach.  Taiwan, a small island which has become increasingly reliant on the Chinese mainland for economic growth, naturally cannot afford to continuously treat Beijing like an enemy.  It is in Taiwan’s best interests to achieve a thaw...which may also eliminate the need for us to continue to make a huge military investment, which has become financially unbearable.”


"Taiwan Cannot Just Depend On Others"


The pro-independence, English-language Taiwan News argued (2/23):  "The U.S. and Japan sent a clear and welcome message to the People’s Republic of China February 19 to rein in its intensifying campaign on the military, diplomatic and legal fronts to pressure Taiwan to accept ‘unification,’ peaceful or otherwise.  However, the expression of concern by Washington and Tokyo should lead Taiwan citizens to take more seriously our own obligations for self-defense instead of fostering complacency or dependence on the protection of other Pacific powers....  The point manifests the fact that although the positions of Washington and Tokyo on the Taiwan Strait problem are gradually converging, the triangular relationship between the U.S., Japan and the PRC continues to be extremely delicate.  The U.S. and Japan have used the joint security statement to express their grave concern over the expansion of the PRC’s military clout and the aggressive nature of its deployment.  However, the two Pacific powers clearly still hope that Beijing can play a constructive mediating role to resolve the festering crisis in North Korea and also do not wish to provoke the PRC.  Therefore, Taiwan should not lapse into excessive optimism and exaggerate the implications of Saturday’s new development and neglect our own responsibility and obligation for our own defense or let down our guard against the PRC....  The inability of our country, for reasons of partisan antagonism and ideological disputes, to act in accordance with its own national interests will inevitably lead to a day when the U.S. and Japan are no longer willing to act as our effective protectors.  If Taiwan cannot become recognized as a country, then its reliance on ‘reflected interests’ from the Japan-U.S. security alliance will ultimately be limited.  The Taiwanese people should strive to join with the U.S. and Japan to sign a joint mutual security treaty and should not sanguinely expect to receive the protection of foreign countries.”


"U.S., Japan Working Together To Restrain China’s Military Threats Against Taiwan"


James Wang commented in pro-independence Taiwan Daily (2/22):  "Such a document...can be viewed as [a result of] the concerns expressed by the U.S. and Japan over the unpredictable future direction of the rising China and a clear declaration by the two allies that they will not allow any use of force to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.  Washington’s and Tokyo’s firm positions are naturally related to their own interests, but they also meet Taiwan’s national and security interests....  The card played by the U.S. and Japan of course has a dual function for it also offers room for China to walk on a correct track and play a ‘constructive and responsible role.’  But obviously this document is aimed at China’s hegemonic power and its focus is to show concern about Taiwan and to restrain China.  Among the 12 ‘common strategic objectives’ listed by the U.S. and Japan for the Asia-Pacific region, six of them relate to Taiwan, while only four of them relate to North Korea....  For Taiwan, this signifies progress.  It has never been a new policy that the U.S. encourages both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resolve the cross-Strait issues via dialogue and peaceful means.  Washington can explain that its position of opposition to ‘any unilateral attempt to change the status quo [in the Taiwan Strait]’ remains unchanged.  But in this statement, the focus of this sentence is, without doubt, to deter China from using force to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, which is that both sides do not belong to each other."


"U.S. Raising Japan Profile"


The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post observed (2/22):  "The U.S. and Japan have reinforced their alliance with a new set of common security objectives (CSO) on North Korea’s nuclear program, China’s rising military power and tension across the Taiwan Strait....  This new development reflects U.S. perceptions that China’s military build-up and dangers of Taiwan’s pro-independence moves could pose a greater risk to regional stability than North Korea.  Though the Taiwan issue has always been on the Japan-U.S. security agenda, this is the first time that Tokyo has publicly, in a diplomatic document, expressed such a concern.  In principle, the Japan-U.S. security alliance applies only to ‘emergences in areas surrounding Japan,’ but Japan’s involvement in U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq already demonstrates its readiness to go further....  For Taiwan, the U.S.-Japan joint statement shows the island is not isolated or uncared for, which could deflate arguments for independence and reduce tensions in the straits over time.  If only China doesn’t feel cornered.”


"'Cross-Strait Stability’ Is A Common Strategic Objective For U.S. and Japan"


Centrist, pro-status quo China Times editorialized (2/21):  "The unusual move by the U.S. and Japan...was of course related to recent developments in the region:  First, China’s increasing military buildup has posed a substantive threat to the U.S. and Japan....  Second, even though Tokyo and Beijing have shared an intimate relationship in economics and trade over the past few years, political tensions have escalated between the two countries....  Based on Washington’s commitment to Taiwan’s security and the inseparable security relations between the U.S. and Japan, Tokyo assumes that it will surely be involved should a war break out in the Taiwan Strait in the future.  Japan has thus attached greater importance to stability across the Taiwan Strait.  Third, since President George W. Bush assumed office, anti-terrorism and war in Iraq have dominated Washington’s foreign policy, but the U.S. still maintains a prudent and vigilant attitude toward Beijing....  Washington will not allow any Asian-Pacific country to emerge to challenge the U.S.' hegemonic power.  Beijing remains the hypothetical enemy that the U.S. watches most closely and the Taiwan Strait is in particular an area that will most easily lead to conflicts between Beijing and Washington....  In the joint did not say that the two allies would fight against the rising China, nor did it mention that they would fight against China for Taiwan....  The U.S.' cross-Strait policy still remains balanced at the current stage.  It did not tilt toward Taiwan, so Taiwan should not engage in wishful thinking and believe that the U.S. and Japan will integrate Taiwan into their defense area."


"Why Do The U.S. And Japan Show Concern About The Taiwan Strait?"


Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News observed (2/21):  "The U.S.-Japan Security Committee Statement listed security across the Taiwan Strait as part of the two allies’ common strategic objectives.  This development basically reflects two facts:  First, China’s recent emergence has dismayed both the U.S. and Japan; the U.S. has thus successfully talked Japan into joining itself in conducting a certain form of containment....  Second, tensions have often escalated across the Taiwan Strait over the past few years given frequent political manipulations by Beijing and Taipei.  In an attempt to prevent the escalating conflicts [across the Taiwan Strait] to affect regional stability, both the United States and Japan felt the need to express their concerns in public.  As a result, it will be undoubtedly erroneous if people seek to comment on or analyze the U.S.-Japan security deployment from Taiwan’s perspective only because they will certainly miss the big picture of Washington’s and Tokyo’s own strategic interests....  In addition to the cross-Strait issue and the wrestling between China and Japan in the East China Sea, a bigger crisis in East Asia nowadays comes from the threats of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons....  The situation in Northeast Asia is more of a headache for the U.S. and Japan than the cross-Strait situation.  To resolve the North Korea problem, Beijing’s mediation is a must.  In other words, even though Beijing is obviously a common strategic objective for the U.S. and Japan with regard to the cross-Strait issue, Beijing nonetheless shares strategic partnership with both the U.S. and Japan when it comes to the Korean Peninsula....  When compared with Pyongyang, Taiwan seems to be in a less powerful strategic role....  The source of the cross-Strait crisis does not come from Beijing’s enactment of the anti-secession law; instead it is a result of constant confrontations and provocation by both sides of the Taiwan Strait over many years."


"Assistance From Japan, U.S. Not To Be Taken For Granted"


The conservative, pro-independence, English-language China Post said (2/20):  "But while we are pleased to see Japan and the U.S. offer a clearer assessment of what they might do in the event of a war in the Taiwan Strait, we are concerned that leaders here might get carried away into thinking Tokyo and Washington would automatically rush to our defense.  The situation is reminiscent of early on in the first term of U.S. President George W. Bush, who publicly stated his administration would do ‘whatever it took’ to defend Taiwan against attach from mainland China.  President Bush later watered down his remarks after the international press, as well as pro-independence activists here in Taiwan, interpreted them to give a green light to a change in the status quo....  Still, our government should be careful not to interpret Japan’s growing boldness toward mainland China as a license for us to change the status quo.  If our leaders provoke Beijing into taking military action, such as by scrapping our status as the Republic of China, we would not be surprised if Tokyo and perhaps even Washington declined to give us anything more than moral support.  But if we mind our affairs well and refrain from publicly gloating about this major change in the U.S.-Japan security relationship, we can and should expect to see our prudence rewarded by Tokyo and Washington by even clearer assurances in the future."


"Democratic Asia Is A Common Strategic Objective For The U.S. And Japan"


Pro-independence Liberty Times commented (2/21):  "In the joint statement, both allies declared that it is the U.S. and Japan’s common strategic objective to reduce tensions across the Taiwan Strait.  The two countries indicated that Taiwan is a common security issue for the U.S. and Japan, and they hope to work with China to jointly ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait.  Taiwan did not make any particular moves lately and has been busy with issues such as reconciliation and co-existence inside the island.  Evidently, the U.S.-Japan joint statement is thus aimed at China’s anti-secession law....  During the expansion process of China’s hegemonic power, Taiwan is obviously its number one target, but countries like the U.S. and Japan cannot stay away....  Any subtle change in the cross-Strait situation will affect their national interests....  Given China’s military expansion and the gradual strengthening of the U.S.-Japan security system, the Taiwan Strait has been included...and clearly acknowledged as a strategic objective....  Such a development is naturally a result of China’s constant provocative moves....  The U.S.-Japan joint statement...showed a clear intention to protect democratic Taiwan.  But we need to ask ourselves first:  What is Taiwan’s strategic objective then?  Is it to make more money in China or to wait to be annexed?  None of the above.  Only by insisting on our national sovereignty, strengthening our economic independence and democratic self-determination can Taiwan become a normal country....  In that way Taiwan, the U.S. and Japan can work together to promote democratic values in the Asia-Pacific region and thereby thoroughly eliminate the element of uncertainty in the Taiwan Strait.”


"U.S.-Japan Security Pact Expands To Cover The Taiwan Strait"


Pro-independence Taiwan Daily editorialized (2/20):  "The U.S. and Japan agreed [in the joint statement] that whenever necessary, they will use military power to stop China from invading Taiwan.  We believe that all Taiwan people should support and thank the two countries for their chivalrous deed.  In the meantime, we should work together to help ourselves....  Taiwan should strengthen the anti-submarine combat communications with the United States and Japan.  It is a pity that the NTD610.8 billion arms procurement budget is still boycotted by the Pan-Blue legislators....  No one opposes Taiwan’s strengthening of its self-defense capabilities; after all, we cannot totally rely on or expect the assistance from the U.S. and Japan.  Given the great gap in military strength between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and the fact that Taiwan does not have preventive or deterrent self-defense military capabilities, we cannot be sure whether Beijing will take advantage of such an opportunity to invade the island.  We hope those political parties, groups or people that are against the arms procurement packages will look at the big picture, or they will be suspected as spokespersons for the warmonger China.”


"China Must Not Be Appeased"


The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times stated (2/20):  "We applaud the decision by both of the US and Japan to discard their wishy-washy political stance and clearly express their concern about security across the Taiwan Strait and in Asia.  Neither country will now back off in the face of China’s growing military capability.  We believe that a preventive measure like this one taken by the US and Japan is truly wise.  Otherwise, we may see a repeat of what happened with the former Iraqi regime, when after years of appeasing a dictator, the world was forced to respond militarily when Saddam Hussein rolled his tanks into neighboring Kuwait....  We are delighted to see that the US and Japan have acted decisively on the issue of regional security and have made their determination to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait clear to Beijing.  Previous hesitation and lack of clarity in the policies of both countries has given little incentive for Beijing to restrain itself, for it gave the impression of timidity and appeasement.  With the National People’s Congress scheduled to open on March 5, the passage of the ‘anti-secession’ law will make unilateral changes to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.  The US and Japan therefore have no choice but to harden their attitude and make security in the Strait a ‘common strategic objective.’  Only in this way can they prevent rash action by Beijing, and gradually stabilize an increasingly volatile situation.”


JAPAN:  "SDF, U.S. Military Pushed Closer Together"


Yoshiyuki Komurata asserted in liberal Asahi (2/22):  "The Japan-U.S. joint statement on security...does lay the foundation for a major shift in bilateral cooperation, and controversies could erupt in Japan as a result.  The common strategic objectives...set the stage for a strengthened military alliance beyond just the Asia-Pacific region....  Officials will also focus on the manner in which closer cooperation can be realized between the two sides in tackling defense and security issues around the globe....  Japan would be asked to play a much more important role....  Within the global transformation of its military following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. has begun to focus on homeland defense. To maintain the global presence of the U.S. military, more is being asked of its alliance partners, particularly Japan....  Since the region contains potential hot spots in the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. feels the need to strengthen that pillar.  Part of that strategy includes plans to realign the U.S. military presence in Japan.  The road map for such a transformation contains three stages.  The first is the now-completed compilation of common strategic objectives in the two-plus-two meeting to form the foundation for future negotiations.  Talks will now turn to reviewing the role, duties and capabilities of the U.S. military and the SDF, representing the second stage of the transformation process.  One of the strategic objectives agreed upon was enhancing cooperation between Japanese and U.S. forces. A prime example of that goal is putting together a seamless operation of the missile defense system....  An extension of that process will be joint usage of bases in Japan.  Japanese officials are hoping that joint use will lead to a reduced U.S. military presence in Japan.   Discussions on reviewing which U.S. bases are maintained would represent the third and final stage of the bilateral military transformation.  Regardless of how much the U.S. side calls for an expanded SDF role in global terms, the Japanese side will raise political and constitutional issues concerning the limits of SDF action."


"Ministers Reaffirm Bilateral Alliance"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (2/21):  "The latest U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting in Washington made a justified call for China to play a 'positive and responsible' role in ensuring regional and world stability....  Closer coordination between Washington and Tokyo is as critical as ever in urging Beijing to fulfill its responsibilities.  Whether Beijing can persuade Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks and give up its nuclear ambitions will determine China's willingness to become a trustworthy diplomatic player."


"Common Security Goal"


Liberal Asahi contended (2/21):  "The objectives also say the two countries seek a peaceful solution in North Korea; that they expect China to play a constructive part in the Pyongyang problem; and they encourage Beijing to peacefully solve the Taiwan problem....  What is noteworthy in the common strategic objectives is that it is the first official security document of the two countries that refers to the problem of Taiwan.  In the U.S., opinion is gaining ground that China, which is building up its military strength, will threaten the hegemony of the U.S. sooner or later....  Taiwan was mentioned in the document probably because of the Bush administration's fear that the problem might become a combustible issue.  Of course, Japan and the U.S. do not see China exclusively with wary eyes. The document also stated that the two countries welcome China's role in the problem of North Korea and that they will increase their cooperation with China.  It is hard to effectively deal with terror and the proliferation of WMD without Beijing's cooperation. Economic relations with China are also vital....  How should Japan and the United States cooperate in the military field if tensions arise over the Taiwan Strait?....  This question...would create a tricky problem for Japan.  While both Japan and the U.S. are nervous about China's military buildup, China is a neighbor of Japan. If the relations between China and the United States become tense, Japan would be adversely affected both politically and economically.  As a U.S. ally, Japan should call on China to exercise self-restraint in its military buildup to reduce the risk of letting tensions arise needlessly....  If the work being undertaken by Japan and the United States for security arrangements is a three-step process, working out the the first phase. The next step will be defining the roles of the SDF and the U.S. troops. The final stage will be relocation and re-deployment of U.S. troops in Japan.  The process will offer a good opportunity to reduce the burden of U.S. military bases shouldered by residents in Okinawa....  It will be unacceptable if Japan single-mindedly follows the U.S."


"Do Not Raise Regional Tensions"


Liberal Tokyo Shimbun contended (2/21):  "The 'mild' language used to address the issues of North Korea and the Taiwan Strait in the recent U.S.-Japan security statement is said to be in sharp contrast with comments made by President Bush and Secretary of State Rice about the 'axis of evil' and 'outposts of tyranny.' We hope Washington will adopt a similarly moderate approach in devising specific force realignment plans in Japan, by significantly reducing the security burden imposed on base-hosting communities."


"China Must Be Included In Network Of Peace"


Liberal Mainichi opined (2/21):  "The most important item in the common strategic goals agreed upon between the U.S. and Japan is how to deal with an emerging China....  Establishing stable relations between the U.S., Japan and China will be critical in maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.  It is vital that Washington and Tokyo increase dialogue in order to forge partnerships."


"Clarify A Reduction In The Burden"


Left-of-center Okinawa Times editorialized (2/21):  "The increased coordination on military matters in the U.S.-Japan alliance is worth noticing, and especially the fact that the joint strategic focus is on restraining and warning China could create new tensions and be a backwards step towards increased fears in East Asia.  Though the main themes regarded North Korea's nuclear weapon development and the menace of WMD and terrorism that the Bush administration has tried to solve, there was definite interest from the U.S. side on the possibility of a contingency in the Taiwan Strait, and so it is treating 'restraining China' as the most important mission of the alliance in the future....  In order to achieve these strategic objectives, there is an ongoing review of the mission and role of the U.S. forces in Japan and of the Self-Defense Forces....  But, there should be a clear distinction regarding policies towards China....  Now, growing trade with China is supporting our economic recovery, as Japan's top trading partner is no longer the U.S. but rather 'greater China.'  There are close relations as neighbors with long and deep historical and cultural ties, aside from the economic reasons....  It is important for Japan to make its own independent decisions about our own country's security, and increasing tensions with neighboring nations is not the way our foreign policy and defense policy should be made....  Okinawa is close to Taiwan, and is deeply involved in such pending issues such as the territorial dispute over the Senkaku islands and how best to develop and exploit natural gas fields.  As the 'border island,' this pushes us into playing a military role, and we should not be forced to continue to bear an excessive military burden, or even see it become stronger.  The common statement makes reference to reducing the burden on Okinawa as a principle, but there is no concrete action....  At this time, we should aim at a large-scale reduction of the massive burden of the bases, making the transfer of the marines and the return of Futenma priorities.  After ten years, we demand real results from SACO's original goal of reducing the burden on Okinawa."


"Two Plus Two Common Statement:  Efficiently Reducing The Burden Means Transferring The Marines"


Leftist Okinawa-based Ryukyu Shimpo held (2/21):  "We appreciate the mention of reducing Okinawa's burden in the recent 'Two Plus Two' joint statement...but we feel that concrete results from the SACO final report...are still missing....  Okinawans had high hopes before the recent 'Two Plus Two' meetings that their concerns about reducing the Marine presence in Okinawa would be addressed, but though the joint statement referrred to reducing Okinawa's burden clearly, there is dissatisfaction with...achieving concrete results....  It is clear to all that the strategic foundation for having marines based in Okinawa has been undermined by the development recently of new military technologies....  For Okinawans, the complete and total withdrawal of the U.S. bases is the ideal solution.  But now, without demanding that, as a calm and realistic hope, voices for transferring the Marines have become louder.  Both Washington and Tokyo should seriously heed the meaning of these voices."    


MALAYSIA:  "Crucial Role"


C.N. Ng wrote in Chinese-language independent Oriental Daily News (2/21):  "We feel that the joint press statement...was careful and sensitive enough for the Chinese leaders to swallow and accept its contents without making a big issue out of it. Such subtle interaction among the three major powers indirectly indicates that the three countries understand their differences and conflicts but nevertheless would still try to deal with issues from a practical common ground. For China, a stable and peaceful East Asia Pacific region is the only way for the country to achieve economic advancement without further delay. For the mighty U.S., a stable and peaceful East Asia would allow Washington to focus more on countering global terrorism, dealing with the Middle East crisis, and at the same time maintain its economic and security superiority in the region.  As far as Japan is concerned, it does not want to see China using force against Taiwan. Thus a stable East Asia Pacific region is necessary for Japan to safeguard its geopolitical and economic interests in the region. The unexpected result of the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting shows that the US, Japan, and China do understand the crucial need for peace and not war for the benefit of the region." 


SINGAPORE:  "Caution On Taiwan" 


The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (2/23):  "On the face of it, the joint U.S.-Japan security statement's reference to Taiwan seems innocuous....  The statement's context, however, is fraught with significance....  The 1997 US-Japan security guidelines had merely stated that the two countries would cooperate in 'areas surrounding Japan', without specifying the extent of those 'areas'. Mentioning Taiwan now makes more explicit what was only implicit, or even ambiguous, before: In the case of a conflict between Taiwan and China, and in the event of a US intervention in that conflict, Japan will provide assistance to the U.S....  Washington and Tokyo must take great care not to encourage pro-independence sentiments on the island. Recent statements by US President George W. Bush that he will not countenance any unilateral change of the status quo by either Taipei or Beijing, and that Taiwan should not assume automatic US support under any circumstance, had served to dampen the adventurism of Taiwan's pro-independence forces. The US should not allow the clarity of these positions to be muddied by the latest US-Japan security statement. A peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue would be in everyone's interest, but it is obvious what is one of its pre-conditions: Taiwan cannot declare itself independent. There is no doubt how China will react if it did, and little doubt international sympathy will not be with Taiwan if it were to provoke China. If China playing a 'responsible and constructive' role, regionally and globally, is of importance to the US and Japan, as their joint statement declares it to be, they must realize nothing will make that role less likely than a conflagration over Taiwan."


"U.S., Japan United On Taiwan"


Ching Cheong commented in the pro-government Straits Times (2/20):  "The open declaration by the U.S. and Japan in their revised defense pact that the Taiwan Strait belonged in their joint security orbit did not take China by surprise, but would surely sour its relations with both....  The designation of Taiwan as a Common Strategic Objective...potentially puts the island under their defense umbrella and represented the most significant alteration since 1996 to the US-Japan Security Alliance....  The US had long been concerned about Beijing's threat to use force to prevent Taiwan from seceding, but until the new defense pact...Japan had shown no desire to side openly with the US....  Although the aim of the meeting...was to call for Japan to take a greater role with US forces in the world, their main accent seemed to be on the Taiwan Strait.  The agreement could help lay the groundwork for Japan, which is constitutionally forbidden to take part in war, to extend as much cooperation as it legally can, including logistical support such as transportation and medical rescue operations behind the lines of combat....  The move was called a demonstration of Japan's willingness to confront the rapidly growing might of China....  Taiwan appeared much delighted by the agreement as it had long been promoting a Washington-Tokyo-Taipei military alliance....  But Beijing did not seem to be taken aback....  The move merely confirmed Beijing's belief that the US and Japan would intervene to thwart its military bid to prevent Taiwan's secession should peaceful means fail.  If there is anything surprising, it is the decision of Washington and Tokyo not to be ambiguous anymore in their strategic intent about Taiwan....  By being ambiguous, Japan had been able to avoid irritating China. But it showed its hand yesterday in the declaration....  So militarily, China is prepared for the worst scenario. That said...Beijing was still upset by the signing....  It could produce an incipient form of Washington-Tokyo-Taipei military alliance longed by Taiwan, and greatly complicate Beijing's effort to solve the Taiwanese issue peacefully."



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