March 23, 2005
SECRETARY RICE IN ASIA: A LACK OF 'DRAMATIC PROGRESS'
** South Asian dailies reject "succumbing" to U.S. "arm-twisting" regarding the Iran pipeline.
** Optimists praise Rice's effort to form "simultaneous close relations" with India and Pakistan.
** Regional outlets note Rice's "willingness to be flexible" with North Korea.
** Chinese writers say her visit will help "drive bilateral constructive cooperation."
Stop 'kowtowing' to U.S.-- Dailies in the subcontinent evinced rare accord in blasting Rice's "inappropriate pressure" to halt the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. India's left-of-center Deccan Herald scoffed that the U.S. "expectation that India should subordinate its long-term interests is absurd," while Kolkata's nationalist Akhbar-e-Mashriq added that "New Delhi cannot mortgage its foreign policy to America." Pakistani papers agreed the U.S. opposition is in "direct collision with its policy of enhancing regional cooperation" and argued that Islamabad must not "bow to Washington's pressure."
A 'new approach'-- Several papers praised Rice's "ambitious agenda," with Indian writers hailing the "visible transformation of bilateral relations." Despite "differences on Iran," said India's centrist Telegraph, Rice's visit showed the "maturity in India-U.S. ties." Pakistan's Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt agreed Rice "left a very good impression." However, issues such as F-16 sales and Kashmir "underscored the limits" of attempts to "strengthen bilateral relations" with both countries. Pakistani papers assailed the "free hand" the U.S. gives to India's defense needs while "depriving" Islamabad of the "F-16s it has already paid for." Populist Khabrain stressed the "need for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute."
The DPRK must 'seize this opportunity'-- Observers viewed Rice's initial remarks as proof that the U.S. now seeks "dialogue instead of pressure." South Korea's pro-government Seoul Shinmun hailed the "possible change in Washington's policy," while independent Joong-Ang Ilbo held that the "indirect U.S. acknowledgment of North Korea's regime" may be a "catalyst" for talks. However, Rice's later "tough talk" towards the DPRK led writers to conclude her "implied warning" was no "mere bluff." One outlet backed Rice's "tougher tone" calling for a "firm stand" against the North's "totalitarian regime." Japanese papers stressed the "beef trade row," with liberal Tokyo Shimbun forecasting "possible aggravation of the bilateral relationship."
'Wide-ranging common interests'-- Chinese outlets appreciated Rice's "rational, objective and positive stance"; Hong Kong's independent Ming Pao Daily News praised the ability of the world's "two big nations to replace confrontation with dialogue." Other dailies judged that China's "seemingly inexorable rise" makes it a "diplomatic and military competitor" to the U.S. They were wary of Rice's "push for democratic development" in Asia, seeing it as part of a strategy of "continuously encircling" China. Observers agreed that Taiwan remains the "most sensitive issue" in Sino-U.S. relations. The pro-independence Taiwan News argued that Rice "botched" her chance to "reduce cross-Straits tensions" while in Beijing.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
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 95 reports from 22 political entities over 17 - 23 March 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Rice Does Not Relax Northeast Asia Tension"
Shi Hongtao commented in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (3/22): "Rice’s Northeast Asia trip ended but the region’s security tension was not relaxed. On the DPRK nuclear issue, Rice did not break the impasse. Other than calling for the DPRK to return to the Six-Party Talks, Rice did not offer much sincerity and good will during the trip. She did not bring any new information about the U.S. stance on the issue. On the ROK-Japan divergences, though the two countries are ‘reconciled’ under pressure from the U.S., their conflicts can’t be resolved easily. Rice did not express a stand on the issue during the trip. Rice also expressed concern over the increase of Chinese military expenditures on arriving in Asia and indicated an increased alliance with Japan to stabilize the regional situation. Its realization will undoubtedly will affect regional security. Besides, the U.S. and China still are still some distance apart on the Taiwan straits issue.... Observers worry that Rice’s policy in Asia will contain more toughness. If the U.S. adopts containment against China again, U.S.-China relations will become more tense. Tension in U.S.-China relations will directly cause deterioration of regional security.”
"Double Standards Once Again"
Xiao Bin held in official People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) (3/22): "Secretary Rice said the U.S. supports Japan to become a permanent member of the UNSC when she visited Japan. It reminds people of President Bush did not say yes or no to the question of whether or not the U.S. supports Germany to be the permanent member when he visited Germany. The great difference of the U.S. government on the two countries deserves contemplation. The root reason is the Iraq war. Germany’s anti-war stance has irritated the U.S. and the neo-conservatives adopt a ‘snubbing Germany’ policy. Deep in its heart, the U.S. did not untie the knot against certain anti-war countries like Germany or France. But Japan sent out Self Defense Troops to Iraq, thus it is not strange that Japan can gain the U.S. support on the permanent member issue while Germany can’t. A German newspaper pointed out the U.S. has adopted double standards on the issue. In fact, aren’t those double standards that the U.S. has adopted on many other international issues?”
"Rice’s Trip To China Creates A Relaxed Environment"
Qin Xuan said in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (3/22): "Because of her reputation as a rigid, tough-minded Bush loyalist, many analysts predicted that Condoleezza Rice would have disputes with Chinese leaders on the DPRK nuclear issue, Six-Party Talks and human rights. Secretary Rice chose to dispel her tough-lady reputation at the end of her China trip by watching ice-skating, intentionally, it seems, trying to create a relaxed environment for relations between the U.S. and China.... Rice’s actions remind people of former U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger’s trip to China in the 1970’s, when he conducted 'ping-pong diplomacy.' Undoubtedly, the basic tone of Rice’s visit was harmony and cooperation. Rice expressed her foreign policy views in a meeting with President Hu Jintao. Rice’s diplomatic mission was mainly about communication, not solving problems. She did not bring any heavy tasks on her trip. That’s why she could have time to watch Chinese athletes skate.”
"China, U.S. Voice Commitment To Fortify Ties, Resolve Disputes In Respectful Manner"
Official People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) asserted (3/21): "The Chinese leadership and visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both voiced commitment Sunday to continue developing bilateral ties, calling for resolving current disputes in a mutually respectful manner.... Facts have proved that China and the U.S. share wide-ranging common interests and shoulder important responsibilities, and they can realize a win-win result of mutual benefit through cooperation. China-US constructive and cooperative ties should be pushed to a higher level. The sound, steady and continuous development of Sino-US relations is in the fundamental interest of the two countries and their peoples, and constitutes an important factor for the promotion of regional and world peace, stability and prosperity.... Current China-U.S. relations are in a generally good form, which could enable the two sides to handle it from a strategic and long-term perspective.... Economic and trade cooperation is an important part of China-US relations and both sides should further improve current coordination mechanism based on principles of equality, mutual benefit and development."
"Rice’s Visit To China Has Positive Influence"
Yuan Peng observed in official People's Daily Overseas Edition (Renmin Ribao Haiwaiban) (3/18): "Her high-key tone and optimistic stance on China and U.S.-China relations have removed people’s doubts that she may depart from Powell’s mild China policy. Such a rational, objective and positive stance against China is an effective balance against a rising anti-China current in the U.S. domestic politics recently. Due to a reshuffle of neo-conservatives’ personnel, Rice’s position in the U.S. security decision-making has been raised visibly. Thus her Asian view or China view will greatly decide the Bush administration’s China policy development in the second term. Rice’s visit also formally starts the process of the U.S.-China high level strategic dialogue.”
"Secretary Rice Seeks Three Wins During Her South Asia Trip"
Zhao Xinyu commented in official popular Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (3/17): "Secretary Rice’s visit to India reveals the importance the U.S. puts on regional stability and its greatest interests in the South Asia region. Secretary Rice has three goals on her South Asian trip. First, the U.S. hopes to enhance the U.S.-India strategic partnership. Second, the U.S. wants to promote the peace in India and Pakistan to maintain stability in South Asia. Third, the U.S. wants to enhance and consolidate U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on the War on Terror. The U.S.’s attempt to have simultaneous close relations with India and Pakistan is undoubtedly an attempt to gain three-wins.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Rice Shows Little Change In China Policy"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (3/23): "Speaking at Sophia University in Tokyo, Dr Rice named China as a new factor in regional politics, one to be managed through U.S. alliances. Japan, South Korea, India and Australia came in for praise for the positive roles they are playing in supporting the war on terrorism and aiding Washington's push for democratic development in the region.... It is clear that U.S. policy towards China is little changed as Mr. Bush begins his second term. But we can expect to see Washington speak more openly in the next few years about the need for Beijing to take up responsibilities in line with its rising prominence. U.S. alliances with China's neighbors are likely to be reinforced to provide a counterbalance. The attitude of friendly containment has always been implicit. As Dr Rice ended her Asian tour, it was in the open."
"Rice's China Visit Can Promote Sino-U.S. Cooperation"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (3/22): "The Taiwan issue is always the key issue in Sino-U.S. relations. Rice has made a lot of efforts to discuss with the Chinese leaders the newly passed anti-secession law and to express U.S. concerns. In the Monday press conference, Rice pointed out that the anti-secession law was 'not helpful for reunification.' She urged China to ease the tensions in the Taiwan Strait and to peacefully resolve the Taiwan issue. On the other hand, the Chinese leaders made an effort to convince the U.S. that the anti-secession law was just aimed at checking the 'Taiwan independence' power and to safeguard regional peace. It was a law aimed at resolving the Taiwan issue peacefully. China and the U.S. have differences over the anti-secession law. One thing they have in common is that the two sides do not want to see any conflict or war in the Taiwan Strait.... Besides, resuming the six-party talks is the current wish of the U.S. Rice urged the Chinese leaders to play their important role to make the DPRK to return to the negotiation table.... In the last four years, Sino-U.S. relations have been improving and developing with the belief of seeking common ground while reserving differences. The fact shows that both China and the U.S. share a lot of common interests and they shoulder important international responsibilities. Thus, they should achieve mutual benefits through cooperation."
"Rice Should Not Distort China's Anti-secession Law"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (3/22): "It is a pity that Rice made some unacceptable remarks regarding the anti-secession law in a press conference before she left Beijing. Rice said that the anti-secession law passed by China was not a welcome development and it was not helpful for reunification. Rice's remarks were unacceptable from all angles. Enacting the anti-secession law is part of the internal affairs of China, and it has nothing to do with the U.S. As a Secretary of State who is responsible for handling foreign affairs, Rice should have a clear understanding of diplomatic rules. She should not make any irresponsible remarks about China's anti-secession law. However, Rice has made a diplomatic mistake by making public remarks about China's internal affairs.... The U.S. claimed that it must safeguard stability in the Taiwan Strait. Yet, it has stubbornly distorted China's sincerity. Its reaction will actually convey the wrong message to the 'Taiwan independence' force, which will imperil peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."
"Rice Is Cautious; Sino-U.S. relations Can Hardly See Breakthroughs"
Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News remarked (3/21): "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday arrived in Beijing and she immediately met with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. This is the last stop of her six-state visit and it is her first visit to China since she took up the post as the Secretary State. It shows that building relations with China is still the major diplomatic job of the U.S. By summing up the recent situation, we can make the following points. First, Rice repeatedly stressed the importance of Sino-U.S. relations and she believed that their bilateral relations could be further developed by bilateral cooperation.... Second, it is not just polite for Rice and other U.S. leaders to take China seriously. In fact, they have seen many objective facts.... Third, although the basis for Sino-U.S. relations is good, there are still many hidden uncertainties. The cross-strait issue and the CPRK nuclear issue are the major obstacles for their bilateral relations.... Fourth, although Rice dare not offend China over the cross-strait issue, she did not have a clear stance and did not say straight-forwardly that Taiwan is not a sovereign state as the former Secretary of State Powell did.... Someone in China said that the U.S. had no alternative but to adhere to the 'one China policy'. To settle the cross-strait relations, the U.S. must rely on the efforts of people across the Strait to increase mutual understanding and trust."
"Rice Will Continue To Play A Balancing Game"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News concluded (3/21): "Rice succeeded Powell and became the Secretary of State. Outsiders will speculate that the diplomatic policy of the hawks will lead the U.S. However, taking the overall situation into consideration, U.S.-China policy does not seem to have any major changes.... Yesterday, although Rice reiterated the 'one China' principle, she did not show her understanding and support for China's anti-secession law, nor did she clearly state that the U.S. did not support Taiwan independence as former Secretary of State Powell did. At the press conference in Seoul, she even said that the U.S. rejected the European Union's lift on the ban of weapon sales to China because it did not want to see China using of the European-made weapons to fight the U.S.... Powell gave remarks targeting the Taiwan independence force when the Chen Shui-bian government was making many small gestures about Taiwan independence. This time, Rice's public remarks about Taiwan independence have weakened. But it does not mean that U.S.-China policy has changed. The U.S. is just continuing to play its balancing game."
"Developing Sino-U.S. Relations Should Have Strategic Foresight"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily contended (3/21): "U.S. Secretary of State Rice said yesterday after meeting with Chinese leaders that the U.S. insisted on a "One China Policy" and would abide by the U.S.-China three joint communiqués. She hoped that the Taiwan issue could be resolved peacefully. Just before Secretary Rice visited China, China passed the anti-secession law and the six-party talks on the DPRK nuclear issue have come to a stalemate. The above remarks by Secretary Rice have not given the world any surprise, but at least it shows that the Bush administration still attaches much importance to the development of Sino-U.S. relations.... China and the U.S. are two big nations in the world. They share a lot of common interests. In many areas, they have cooperation which will be good for people of the two countries as well as the world. In order to ensure the healthy development of sino-U.S. relations, a strategic foresight is needed. First of all, such a foresight is needed to handle the most sensitive issue between the two countries--the Taiwan issue. The prerequisite for settling the sensitive issue is to follow the principle of the Sino-U.S. three joint communiqués. Secondly, such a foresight is needed to drive forward bilateral constructive cooperation in the new century."
"U.S. Should Understand And Support The Anti-secession Law"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po commented (3/21): "U.S. Secretary of State Rice made her first visit to China. When Chinese leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao met with Rice, they said they hoped that the U.S. could understand, respect and support China's anti-secession law. Although the U.S. Congress passed the so-called resolution to censure anti-secession law and some people in the U.S. political circle tried to distort Beijing's intention, China's goodwill actually had a significant meaning in safeguarding the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations.... At present, the biggest threat that affects peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is the activities advocated by the 'Taiwan independence' force who one-sidedly attempted to change the status quo at the Taiwan Strait. Thus, the U.S. should be aware of the attempt of the 'Taiwan independence' force to tie the U.S. to its war chariot. China hopes that the U.S. can understand and support the anti-secession law."
"Rice Visits China"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News observed (3/19): "The U.S. decided not to move a resolution to condemn China's human rights situation in the UN Human Rights Commission. It has become the only bright spot in Sino-U.S. relations. On the eve of U.S. Secretary of State Rice's visit to China, the U.S. made a gesture which will likely create a good atmosphere for dialogue so that Rice will not return to the U.S. empty handed. No matter what the real motive of the U.S. is, it is a good thing for the two big nations to replace confrontation with dialogue.... Both China and the U.S. have huge influential power in international affairs. And the past experience shows that as long as they can seek dialogue, it is not difficult to settle differences and come to a consensus. China is not a small nation like Iraq and Yugoslavia. Thus, any conflicts between China and the U.S. will bring about disastrous impacts to the international community."
TAIWAN: "Amazing Coincidence! Washington And Beijing Have Reached A Tacit Agreement"
Wang Li-chuan said in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (3/22): "With regard to the cross-Strait issue, [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice’s use of language towards both sides of the Taiwan Strait has been very cautious. Regarding Taiwan, Rice did not use words like ‘not supporting Taiwan independence’ or ‘opposing Taiwan independence,’ which is friendlier than last year when U.S. President George W. Bush articulated his opposition to Taiwan independence. On the other hand, however, Rice did not express opposition to the Anti-Secession Law as Taiwan had hoped. Such a development seems to indicate that Washington does not believe the Anti-Secession Law will change the status quo.... Rice has repeatedly stressed that she ‘hopes Beijing will adopt measures to demonstrate its goodwill and reduce [cross-Strait] tensions.’ This remark was coincident with Beijing’s planned next step toward Taiwan. Such an amazing coincidence makes it easy for people to suspect that Beijing and Washington may have reached some tacit agreement over the cross-Strait issue, so that Washington thinks that Beijing’s [next] moves meet the United States’ requirement that ‘neither side should unilaterally attempt to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait."
"Rice Botched Her Chance In Beijing"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times declared (3/22): "China’s 'Anti-Secession' Law was one of the key issues for Secretary Rice’s two-day visit to Beijing. During a meeting with Rice on Sunday, Chinese President Hu Jintao demanded that the US not send a ‘wrong signal’ to the ‘Taiwan separatist forces,’ while Rice reiterated Washington’s opposition to any unilateral action that may change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Superficially, the two countries [i.e. the U.S. and China] appeared equally matched in the meeting, but in fact, China had the upper hand, as it had already passed a law legitimizing in its own mind its threat of war against Taiwan. That law has shifted the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. In requesting that Beijing make efforts to reduce cross-strait tension, Washington was merely trying to remedy a situation that existed. There is no guarantee that Beijing will take up this proposal, so clearly Hu came off better in the talks.... Rice had the means of persuading China to reduce cross-strait tensions at her disposal, but she failed to make use of the opportunity. The means are the themes of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ that figured to prominently in US President George W. Bush’s second inauguration speech. The disparity between Taiwan and China is not only a question of incomes and quality of life, but one of values, beliefs and systems of government. This difference cannot be made to disappear through the use of guns, battleships or missiles.... Since the passage of the ‘Anti-Secession’ Law, antipathy and suspicion of China among the people of Taiwan has increased. Taiwan’s anxiety about China can only be reduced in the Beijing leadership is prepared to show respect for Taiwan’s existence, introduce measures that guarantee its security and enhance the prosperity of Taiwan’s society. For example, they could stop blocking Taiwan efforts to join the World Health Organization as an observer and sign free-trade agreements with other countries. This would pave the way toward cross-straits negotiations founded on equality."
"To Set The Tune On The Anti-Secession Law, Rice Has A Standard Answer"
Vincent Chang argued in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (3/21): "From the many remarks made [by Washington] prior to [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice’s visit to Beijing, it is obvious that if Taipei fails to get Rice in Beijing to ‘at least’ openly define the Anti-Secession Law as ‘a move that alters the status quo of the Taiwan Strait,’ or to get Washington [to say openly that it] ‘opposes’ the law, the Anti-Secession Law might become part of the ‘status quo’ of the Taiwan Strait in the future. Should that be the case, Taiwan’s alternatives to remain flexible in making its own choices [with regard to its future] will also be greatly reduced.... The biggest predicament and dilemma that Washington encounters in the face of the Anti-Secession Law and the main reason why it cannot totally agree with Taipei...is that even though the U.S. is not pleased with some of the...Anti-Secession Law, Washington, based on the position of its existed China policy, cannot say that it totally disagree with all the contents in the law.... But if Taipei decides to adopt more follow-up counteractions, including the mass rally scheduled for March 26, what will be the bottom lines of Washington and Beijing and how much can they tolerate? How many warnings will Taipei get from Washington and how strong will they be? All these above will affect the future interactions between Washington, Taipei and Beijing.”
"Making The Best Use Of Taiwan’s Leverage"
The pro-independence, English-language Taiwan News opined (3/21): "Rice said that in her meetings in Beijing this week, she will reiterate the Bush administration’s complaint that the anti-secession law is not ‘helpful’ in reducing cross-strait tensions because Washington considers the anti-secession law to be a unilateral move to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Rice’s comments and deeds will serve as key indicators for the state of the dynamics of the triangular relationship between Washington, Taipei and Beijing and promise to have significant implications for future U.S.-Taiwan relations and the attitudes of other countries toward China as well as for the direction of future adjustments of Washington’s policy toward President Chen Shui-bian’s administration.... Taiwan should continue to make the best use of international leverage to mold its image as a constructive member of the global community of democracies. We, therefore, strongly suggest the Bush administration and Secretary Rice take into account the objections of the overwhelming majority of the Taiwan people to the PRC ‘anti-secession law’ and the firm and responsible reaction by President Chen and the DPP administration to Beijing’s one-sided attempt to introduce undemocratic and non-peaceful means to sabotage cross-strait peace and undermine Taiwan’s democracy.... Washington should de-link the negative impact of the anti-separation law with its current policy of pursuing a candid, cooperative and constructive relationship with China on issues related to the Korean Peninsula or the Bushian anti-terrorism crusade. Taiwan’s interests should be safeguarded and not used as a bargaining chip in Washington’s policy efforts to engage China. While maintaining our restrained but firm stance in dealing with the PRC legislation, the Taiwan government should utilize all of its formal and informal diplomatic resources to enhance awareness in the international community that Beijing is the side which is rocking the boat of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
JAPAN: "Bush's 'Top Lieutenant' Applied Strong Pressure"
An editorial in liberal Asahi read (3/23): "On each stopover during her recent East Asian tour, Secretary of State Rice called on Japan, South Korea, and China to respectively make decisions on key policy issues facing each of them, such as Tokyo's ban on U.S. beef imports, the stalemated six-party talks and cross-strait tension regarding Taiwan. Rice's strong posturing marks a sharp contrast to her predecessor Powell, who maintained a moderate approach based on his belief in multilateralism. Her Asian diplomacy signals that the White House is in charge of U.S. foreign policy in the second Bush term. Rice's 'bold' remarks in Tokyo accepting the sovereignty of North Korea's Kim Jong Il regime were possible because President Bush has very strong confidence in the secretary.... In South Korea, Rice called the DMZ a 'forefront of freedom,' while in Kabul she said that pursuit for freedom is rapidly spreading. The remarks illustrate her strong commitment to practicing Bush's foremost agenda of spreading liberty and democracy in Asia."
"Six-Party Talks At Crossroads"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri's Washington correspondent reported (3/22): "Secretary of State Rice's suggestion that the U.S. might seek 'other means' if North Korea continues to reject the six-party talks is a sign that the multinational framework is on the verge of collapse. It is widely suspected that her remarks were aimed at pressuring China to make greater efforts in persuading North Korea to return to the negotiating table. The secretary's trip to Asia came in the face of growing skepticism within the administration that the six-party talks, which have been suspended for almost nine months, are ineffective. Rice's tour was partly for the purpose of laying the groundwork to revive the forum. But, only Japan fully endorsed the U.S. stance favoring an immediate and unconditional resumption of the framework, with China and South Korea requesting U.S. 'flexibility' in dealing with Pyongyang. Whether Rice achieved her intended objective remains unclear."
"China's Dilemma To Continue"
Liberal Asahi's Beijing-based reporter observed (3/22): "During her meetings with top Chinese leaders, Secretary of State Rice strongly urged Beijing to play a 'special role' in getting the six-party talks back on track. However, Beijing's alleged influence over Pyongyang is not as extensive or as strong as many outsiders believe. China's dilemma over the U.S. and North Korea is likely to continue."
"Strategic Differences Emerge"
Conservative Sankei stated (3/22): "Secretary Rice's meetings with senior Chinese leaders highlighted differing views of key strategic issues such as North Korea's nuclear development and the cross-strait relationship. The differences have become more pronounced in response to the Bush administration's recognition that China is becoming a strategic rival.... Before her stopovers in East Asia, Rice visited India to enhance bilateral military ties. Judging from her visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Beijing likely considers the U.S. as trying to apply pressure by strengthening Washington's ties with China's neighbors. Strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing is bound to intensify."
"Signs Of A Changing Partnership"
An editorial in business-oriented Nihon Keizai read (3/22): "Secretary Rice's attendance at a church service in Beijing signals a change in U.S.-China relations, which President Bush once termed as in the best shape ever.... Hardliners in the Bush administration stress that, despite Beijing's cooperation in the war on terrorism and on the issue of North Korea's nuclear development, the U.S. should not condone China's human rights violations. Beijing is increasingly concerned about Washington's move to spread democracy in the Middle East, bracing itself for the prospect that China and Russia might be the next target in the U.S. crusade for democratic freedom. Aggravation of the Sino-U.S. partnership would likely have a ripple effect on Beijing's relationship with Taipei, as well as with Tokyo."
"Beef Trade Conflict Must Be Contained"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (3/21): "Secretary Rice's push for a swift resumption of U.S. beef imports during her meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi highlights possible aggravation of the bilateral relationship, which has been in excellent shape under the lead of Koizumi and President Bush.... Both nations must do their utmost to prevent the spat from further escalating. Daunting security tasks lie ahead between the two nations, including the planned U.S. military realignment in Japan. We strongly hope that Washington will share Tokyo's commitment in order to prevent bilateral ties from being seriously damaged. We specifically want Rice to relay Japan's explanation about its domestic administrative procedures to Congress and the U.S. cattle industry."
"Rice's Trip Signals U.S. Concern Over Asia"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai claimed (3/20): "Secretary of State Rice's diplomatic tour of Asia illustrates the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the region located near the 'Arc of Instability'.... The Bush administration has tried to prevent bilateral economic issues from being politicized. In her major policy speech in Tokyo, Secretary Rice abruptly referred to the beef trade row with Japan in a manner that appeared to be out of context from her main theme of security. Japan must carefully manage the beef trade issue so as not to allow it to damage the bilateral alliance."
"Extra Efforts Needed To Promote 'Alliance Of Compassion'"
Conservative Sankei observed (3/20): "Secretary of State Rice has described the U.S.-Japan partnership as an 'alliance of compassion.' In her speech in Tokyo, Rice disclosed a U.S. plan to spread freedom and democracy in Asia. It is an unprecedented initiative conducive to peace and stability in the region. She also called on Japan to exercise leadership in spreading liberty in the region. She specifically proposed the establishment of a "strategic development alliance," under which Washington and Tokyo would coordinate their aid policies. A stronger U.S.-Japan alliance would boost the role of bilateral security ties and preserve regional peace and security. In order to maintain a stable defense relationship with Washington, Tokyo must lift its ban on collective defense."
"'Soft Power' Of Alliance Must Be Fully Utilized"
Liberal Mainichi opined (3/20): "Secretary Rice visited Japan with the message that Washington and Tokyo should take a coordinated approach on global poverty and economic development, as well as on peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.... Since her inauguration in late January, the secretary has made extra efforts to regain international confidence in U.S. leadership. Rice's reference in her Tokyo policy speech to an array of issues facing developing countries, which could be a hotbed for potential terrorists, indicates her commitment to using the 'soft power' of the U.S.-Japan alliance. We praise the Secretary's Asia policy as attaching more emphasis on dialogue and coordination with regional powers and focusing less on military means... Japan must continue policy coordination with the U.S. on North Korea's nuclear development and other regional security issues, while devising a strategy on the use of 'soft power.'"
"U.S. Pressure To Boomerang?"
Liberal Mainichi stressed (3/20): "Concerning the bilateral beef trade dispute, the U.S. must understand Japan's administrative process for food safety. If it wants a swift ending of the import ban, Washington should fully cooperate by allowing Japan's food safety commission to swiftly perform a risk assessment of U.S. beef.... The beef row is a matter directly affecting Japanese public health. No matter how much effort is made in explaining the safety of American beef, U.S. lawmakers or government officials are not directly responsible for food safety in Japan. Japanese consumers would strongly oppose the U.S. cattle industry if Tokyo were to give in to Washington. The industry must understand that undue pressure would likely backfire."
"Rice Visit To Mark Sea Change In Bilateral Ties?"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (3/18): "Secretary of State Rice is set to arrive in Tokyo today. The main item on her agenda is likely to be Washington's call for Japan's swift resumption of U.S. beef imports. Ever since President Bush phoned Koizumi last week to press for Japan's reopening of its markets, the U.S. offensive on beef trade has been nonstop.... Rice's top assistant, Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick, is known for his no-nonsense and merciless negotiating tactics. It would not be naïve for Japan to assume that Rice and other officials probably think Tokyo is likely to yield to strong pressure from the U.S. Washington's approach marks a sharp contrast to the 'soft' style adopted by former Deputy Secretary of State Armitage and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Baker.... Japan is the largest importer of American beef. We understand the U.S. situation on this issue, but Prime Minister Koizumi must not readily accept Rice's possible request for resumption. Japanese people are bound to strongly oppose such a move and there is a risk that Anti-American sentiment could also intensify.... Japan must be aware that Washington treats Tokyo with respect only when such moves serve US national interests."
INDONESIA: "U.S. Seeks To Dictate China, But Ineffectively"
Leading independent Kompas asserted (3/23): "Disharmony in U.S.-China relations was apparent during the trip of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in China early this week. Rice expressed her concern over the plan by the European union to lift its arms embargo on China.... The U.S. has many times threatened to impose economic sanctions on China, which it accuses of pirating electronic products and of dumping practices. But China has never bowed to the US. On the contrary, the U.S. has also tried to be in good terms with China because it fears losing China’s potential market. With its 1.3 billion population, China offers a very attractive market and the China’s purchasing power has also increased due to its economic growth.... We have yet to wait for U.S. success in persuading the EU to cancel its plan to lift the embargo on China.... But it is clear that EU would not easily bow to U.S. pressure. This fact again demonstrates the pattern of changing U.S. relations with its allies in Europe since the end of the Cold War.”
MALAYSIA: "U.S. And China"
Government-influenced Chinese-language Nanyang Siang Pau stated (3/21): "The U.S.' foreign policy and actions indicate that Washington is continuously encircling China, and fears that China has formidable financial resources and military strength and is forming a post-Cold War U.S.-EU-China troika of power, therefore it does not hesitate to play up the 'China threat theory', refers to China 'expanding its armed forces', threatening the 'U.S. military in Asia', and destroying the strategic balance of power in the Taiwan Strait.... The U.S. wants to dominate the world and does not want China to rise up in East Asia, this is the crux of Sino-US relations."
SOUTH KOREA: "The Message Of Secretary Rice’s Three-Nation Trip"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo opined (3/23): “The core message of Secretary Rice’s recent trip to Japan, the ROK, and China is that the North Korean nuclear standoff cannot go on forever. We don’t know whether she had a certain deadline in mind. However, her words cannot be ignored because she is the chief of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. North Korea must not see Rice’s warning as a mere bluff. It must pay attention to the fact that the USG and the public have been consistently saying that the North has no choice but to return to the Six-Party Talks. Pyongyang must imagine the consequences if the Bush Administration does not accept its nuclear brinkmanship. Until now, Seoul has been saying that it will never tolerate a nuclear North Korea and that it will play a leading role in resolving the crisis. The problem is how to apply such principles. Seoul must find out what approaches it will employ to achieve its goals with North Korea, which has been refusing to return to the multilateral talks, and the U.S., which has warned that time is running out.”
"Rice Ends Asia Tour"
The independent English-language Korea Herald maintained (3/22): "On the final stops in her week-long Asian tour, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left mixed messages.... In meetings with the media, she dismissed the use of military to resolve the North Korean nuclear arms development problem, although she refused to retract her designation of the North as an 'outpost of tyranny.' In Beijing, Rice asked Chinese leaders to use their leverage on North Korea to persuade it to abandon its nuclear program. But the top U.S. diplomat raised objections to Beijing's threats of attack on Taiwan...and expressed long-standing concern over Chinese human rights practices.... In her roundtable with Internet-based journalists in Seoul, Rice set forth democratic values as the goal of U.S. foreign policy. She expressed confidence in the U.S.-South Korea and U.S.-Japan alliances founded in the common dedication to democracy.... U.S. Embassy officials who arranged the roundtable might have thought that the on-line journalists represent Korea's liberal voice that is generally skeptical about the future of the South Korea-U.S. alliance. That she wanted to speak to the audience which can be reached via the Internet press indicated she had some apprehension about the status of bilateral relations with South Korea.... On her first Asian tour since assuming the office, Secretary Rice held out a warmer invitation to Pyongyang to join in the six-way talks by calling it a 'sovereign state' and reiterating what it can gain when it makes the 'strategic choice' to give up nuclear arms development. But the implied warning to the North of the consequences of continuing to ignore the call was stronger than at any time before. The question is how those in Pyongyang perceived the message."
"Rice’s Other Options; It Is Not Time For Them"
Pro-government Seoul Shinmun editorialized (3/22): “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that unless North Korea returns to the Six-Party Talks, we should look at other options, indicating the possibility of referring the nuclear issue to the UNSC.... The reason Secretary Rice failed to lay out a card decisive enough to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table during her latest trip to East Asia is a lack of understanding between the U.S. and the ROK. While the ROKG was taking note of a possible change in Washington’s policy toward North Korea, stressing that Secretary Rice recognized the North as a ‘sovereign state,’ most of the U.S. media reported that Secretary Rice urged Seoul and Beijing to join forces to pressure Pyongyang. It seems difficult to find a successful solution to the current nuclear standoff without first coordinating subtle differences that are showing up between the ROK and China on one side and the U.S. and Japan on the other.... The ROKG should find a breakthrough by developing Secretary Rice’s statement here that it would be possible to provide written security assurances to North Korea. It should discuss with Washington putting a [U.S.] promise in writing not to attack North Korea and providing it to the North before the Six-Party Talks resume.”
"Secretary Of State Rice’s Views On Tokdo, DPRK And USFK"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo held (3/21): “Secretary Condoleezza Rice’s statements on the three pending issues appear to be a reflection of the fact that the U.S. has been seriously reconsidering the meaning of its alliance with the ROK over the mid-and-long term from at least the time when differences over a resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and USFK role were first exposed, and possibly since the start of the Roh Moo-hyun administration. The changes in the way the ROK is being viewed are palpable above all in the fact that Secretary Rice has made explicit comments on certain matters that, considering the sensitive juncture, might have called for diplomatic vagueness. Recently, of America’s two strategic pillars in East Asia, the U.S.-ROK and U.S.-Japan Alliances, Washington has been placing much more importance on its relationship with Japan, and the remarks made by Ms. Rice during this visit confirmed the fact. In the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, the U.S. has been more in tune with Japan than with the ROK, with some in the U.S. believing that the ROK stands alongside China in North Korea’s corner.... Seoul wanted to reorganize its relationship with Washington, and these new developments are what many predicted would happen if it did. The ROKG made its choice, and the ROK-U.S. relationship has changed. Now is the time for the ROKG to present strategic alternatives that can guarantee the security of the ROK.”
"We Pay Attention To Rice’s Remarks That Have Become Soft"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo maintained (3/21): “Ms. Rice’s remarks during her Seoul visit seems to be somewhat different from the overall atmosphere in which we saw Washington employing pressure on the North since the beginning of the second Bush Administration.... There are views that Ms. Rice’s remarks are some sort of signal that U.S. policy is now focusing on dialogue instead of pressure. Some even go as far as saying that the remarks are an indirect U.S. acknowledgement of North Korea’s regime and its system. We still have to see what it really means but let’s hope that the remarks by Ms. Rice are a reflection by the U.S. indicating its willingness to be flexible. Furthermore, we hope that her remarks will act as a catalyst, creating some momentum for the stalled Six-Party Talks.”
"Even Though ROK And U.S. Have Agreed To Resolve The DPRK Nuclear Issue Peacefully"
Independent Dong-a Ilbo declared (3/21): “While stressing the need for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, the ROKG has given the impression that it puts more focus on persuading the U.S. in consideration of North Korea’s demands, rather than urging the North to return to the multilateral talks without preconditions. On the other hand, the U.S. has made clear that there is no reward to present to the North before the talks resume, and that the current standoff cannot go on forever. There are views that this visit to Seoul by Secretary Rice represents Washington’s patience threshold for the nuclear issue. In other words, if Pyongyang refuses to return to the Six-Party Talks by June, the U.S. would take the issue to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against the North. It seems that time is not on North Korea’s side. Now is the time for the ROKG to demand flexibility from the North to prevent the situation from heading towards disaster.”
"Rice Calls North Korea A ‘Sovereign State’"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo stated (3/21): “It is meaningful that Secretary Rice acknowledged North Korea as a ‘sovereign state’ and emphasized that the U.S. has no intention to attack the North. It is because this could be the U.S.’s roundabout answer to North Korea’s demand for the withdrawal of Washington’s hostile policy toward the North and the U.S. promise of coexistence with North Korea, because acknowledging a country as a sovereign state means recognizing the country’s sovereign rights. This kind of remark by Secretary Rice may not be easily satisfactory for the North Korean leadership, which has been demanding an apology from Secretary Rice for labeling the country an ‘outpost of tyranny.’ However, it is truly exceptional for a high-ranking USG official to call North Korea a ‘sovereign state.’ Rather than making an issue out of a basic principle of U.S. foreign policy, it is much more beneficial for North Korea to gain more benefits through negotiations in the Six-Party Talks. Until now, we have repeatedly urged the U.S. to express its sincerity to create a breakthrough to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. Now, we ask the North to show a flexible response.”
"An Opportunity To Find A Practical Solution To North Korea’s Nuclear Problem"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (3/21): “The analysis is that, although Secretary Rice cannot retract her ‘outpost of tyranny’ statement as Pyongyang demanded, she mentioned ‘sovereign state’ as a diplomatic counterpoint to foster an atmosphere for resuming the Six-Party Talks. We have repeatedly urged Pyongyang to return to the multilateral talks and the U.S. to secure conditions that would lead the North to return to the table. In other words, the U.S. should give the North clear confidence, not only just words, that there will be real progress. From that perspective, Secretary Rice’s comments during this visit were insufficient and simply theoretical, having no progress in content. We will continue to watch Secretary Rice’s actions and words as she visits China, and hope that her visit to this region will be an opportunity to seriously consider the North Korean nuclear problem and to look for a practical solution.”
INDIA: "Under Eastern Eyes"
Malvika Singh asserted in the centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph (3/22): "Condi Rice. She was in Delhi...telling India, in true condescending style, that this country could possibly play an international role along with other developed countries, in the near future, that we have been ‘accepted’ as a nation that can deliver the goods in an organized fashion.... It has become nauseating to hear the US leaders rattle on superciliously. They behave as badly as the ‘imperialists’ did in the early part of the last century. They feel threatened by the Iran, Pakistan, India pipeline, it throws them out of gear and reduces them to an inconsequential position. It terrifies them that their stranglehold may ease and new players in the region may emerge. They cannot bar the distant possibility of India, China and Russia coming together. It is laughable that countries other than theirs cannot have nuclear capacity, it is laughable. The US has the largest arsenal of WMD. It remains the most dangerous nation on this planet. The U.S. represents the most frightening avatar of an Imperial Power. Its record of intrusion into sovereign countries because of serious cultural, social and political differences, is scary. Its need for monopoly is unacceptable. Its overriding sense of insecurity, veiled by supreme arrogance, powered by economic wealth, defines this beginning-to-wither state. If SAARC countries depended on each other and worked closely to deny the US entry into their realms, it would begin to shake off the cocky strut of this ‘super power’ that has always triggered off friction between India and Pakistan to keep the two from coming together. It would defy the US foreign policy, the hidden agenda, if Indo-Pak relations suddenly improved radically. Where would this conquering nation state move on to? Its primitive mindset would have to undergo an overhaul. We must cease to fall into the traps they set. We must not be greedy. We must refrain from becoming a satellite of the US. The future lies in this region, which is why they are here. We must not hand ourselves to them on a platter by falling to their many baits.”
"U.S. Spanner In Pipeline"
Salman Haidar wrote in the centrist Statesman (3/22): "After much effort, some progress has now been recorded in the project to bring natural gas by pipeline from Iran to India across Pakistan.... And now, unexpectedly, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has thrown a spanner into the works. During her Delhi visit, she expressed her country’s disfavor for the Iranian pipeline. This lends a major blow to the scheme, making inadequate the small but real successes of the last few months. Suddenly the prospects do not appear encouraging. American hostility towards Iran is an old story, and America has never been comfortable with the idea of a gas pipeline from Iran to South Asia. Hence it encouraged the Unocal oil and gas company, and there was also an Argentinian one, to propose an alternative supply source in Turkmenistan, to be brought through a pipeline crossing western Afghanistan and Pakistan on its way to India.... So, what now? It is uncomfortable to find one’s hard- fought plans placed at risk in the manner now being witnessed. A project like the pipeline that holds much importance for India cannot be readily set aside. But it is also difficult to pursue the project in the face of American opposition.... If India is indeed firmly committed to the pipeline, it must do all it can to persuade America, and others, of the part this project can play in stabilizing the region and improving cooperation between currently unfriendly states. That is the best and the most reasonable way forward.”
"Condoleezza Rice: A Promising Visit"
Inder Malhotra concluded in the centrist Hindu (3/20): "Condoleezza Rice's brief visit has evoked friendly feelings, despite some continuing differences between the most powerful and most populous democracies. Most, though not all, observers in New Delhi perceive her first sojourn as Secretary of State as 'positive' and 'promising.' Interestingly, her style has also turned out to be distinctive.... No sooner had her aircraft taken off than she radioed a message to her Ambassador here asking him to spread the word that she had offered India civilian nuclear reactors as well as military hardware, including the F-16 multi-role aircraft.... To lift this restriction at long last has been on the agenda.... But until Ms. Rice's parleys in New Delhi nothing had moved on this subject, which is of vital interest to India, given its colossal energy needs and the role of nuclear power in bridging the great and growing gap between supply and demand. However, it would be naïve to believe that Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation would materialize quickly.... Both Moscow and Paris have been urging New Delhi to take up the matter with Washington with greater vigor. The time to do so is now. However, the positive outlook on civilian nuclear energy has been clouded somewhat by Rice's virtual demand that this country should abandon its project to import natural gas from Iran through a pipeline via Pakistan.... America may have its problems with Iran. But this country's relations with Teheran...are deep and abiding. Moreover, our needs for oil and gas are increasing exponentially.... Surely one should not live in the past but should take note of existing realities and make the best of them.... Relations between India and America have undergone a qualitative change for the better. They are likely to improve even further, given this country's rising economic weight and power.”
"Delhi Steps On The Gas, In Spite Of U.S."
Pranay Sharma wrote in the centrist Telegraph (3/19): "India has decided to go ahead with the proposed gas pipeline with Tehran despite the U.S.' concerns over Iran. Delhi is also hopeful that if everything goes according to schedule, India, Pakistan and Iran will be able to sign a trilateral 'overarching’ agreement on the project by the middle of this year. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had raised America’s concerns over Iran during her recent visit to Delhi.... But...at no point did Rice or any other US official raise any objection to the project.... Rice had only told the Indian leadership about Washington’s concerns over Iran.... That the two sides could go ahead with other aspects of their bilateral relations despite the differences on Iran indicated the maturity in India-US ties.... The plan is for the three countries to meet, probably in Islamabad, by this summer and sign a trilateral agreement. India has made it clear that it is keen on signing an agreement with Iran while the latter can sign a separate agreement with Pakistan because Delhi is not dealing directly with Islamabad in getting the gas. But to boost investor confidence, India is willing to sign with Pakistan and Iran an ‘overarching’ agreement that will clearly indicate the three governments’ commitment to the pipeline project. After the last meeting in Tehran, there are four aspects on which India is concentrating to ensure that everything is in place when a formal agreement is signed. The queries pertain to the technical aspects of the pipeline, its length, the distance it will travel, and the route it will take to reach India. India also wants to know the price at which Iran will sell the gas and whether it would be attractive enough to Delhi. Further, it wants to clarify legal questions on the laws that will come into play in a dispute and the authority that will bring about an arbitration. The Indian establishment also wants to ensure that the pipeline will not force it to compromise on national security.”
"Rice In The Sub-continent"
Independent Kolkata-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika stated (3/19): "Rice’s visit to India and Pakistan is suggestive of the increasing importance of the sub-continent to the US strategic goals.... Maybe, Rice wanted to have a firsthand experience about the sub-continent in her own way. At the same time...perhaps she came to assure the concerned heads of states about the continuity of the Bush Administration’s policy toward the region.... America too used to look at New Delhi, historically close to the erstwhile Soviet Union, with suspicion. But when India and the US have been increasing their mutual cooperation leaving that history behind, Indo-Pak relations too are improving in parallel. In this perspective, Rice’s visit earns much significance.”
"America, India And Iran"
An editorial in Kolkata-based Urdu-language nationalist Akhbar-e-Mashriq read (3/18): "Rice’s one-day visit to India reminds us the proverb ‘An angel’s face with a devil’s mind’. Let there be bitter relationship between the U.S. and Iran, but this bitterness should not cast its shadow over India.... India is racing towards economic development in such a speed that it will turn into a developed country very soon. But India is not self-sufficient in oil and natural gas. For this reason it has been trying to get gas from not only Iran but also from Turkmenistan and Myanmar since long. India’s efforts are now going to be successful. So at this moment New Delhi should not allow the U.S. putting hurdles on its way of friendship with Iran.... India being an independent and sovereign country, has maintained its pride even in its worst time. It should tell the U.S. in clear terms that it will never succumb to Washington’s pressure and it will do whatever it thinks is beneficial to its people. The dispute that the U.S. does have with each and every country of the world has nothing to do with India. New Delhi cannot mortgage its foreign policy to America. It cannot keep itself alienated from other countries and put itself in isolation just like the U.S.”
"Rice Touches Base"
An editorial in the centrist Indian Express read (3/18): "In terms of defining an ambitious agenda for Indo-US relations in the next four years, the talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday exceeded expectations. In the first high-level political contact between India and the Bush administration in its second term, Rice has laid out a new framework for bilateral cooperation. Four new developments stand out in this engagement: flexibility on civilian nuclear energy cooperation, willingness to consider long-term defense industrial partnership, support to India’s attempts to promote regional peace and prosperity and a greater recognition of India’s global role. India had long sought the revival of civilian nuclear energy cooperation with the US that was suspended in 1974 after India’s first nuclear test. President Bush conceded the idea in principle when the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) initiative was launched in January 2004.... Rice has also been willing to look beyond the immediate differences over the imminent American sale of F-16s to Pakistan and offer a new approach to bilateral defense cooperation. By being more open to India’s considerations on security of supply, Rice is signaling Washington’s new commitment to meet India’s long term security needs. The unprecedented Indo-US convergence of views on promoting peace in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, is now creeping up on Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. If New Delhi continues to push forward the peace process with Islamabad and develop economic integration with both Pakistan and Afghanistan, it can count on political support from the US. Rice has also communicated America’s desire to back India’s participation in global institutions such as the G-8. New Delhi and Washington have seen many false dawns before in their bilateral relations. This time, the changed regional and global environment offers hope of a visible transformation of bilateral relations. The proposed visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US later this year, to be followed by that of Bush to India, will help pressurize the two cynical bureaucracies in both the countries to deliver.”
The Bangalore-based left-of-center Deccan Herald declared (3/18): "Although the India-US relationship has deepened in recent years, Secretary Rice’s visit to the region has underscored the limits to this bilateral cooperation. Gaps in the positions of the two countries on key issues persist, the effusive words notwithstanding. India expressed its concern over Washington’s proposed supply of F-16s to Pakistan.... The US appears to have indicated that it might consider selling F-16s to India as well. However, this does not address India’s concern.... The supply of F-16s to India might reduce India’s vulnerability vis-à-vis Pakistan...but the sale...to Islamabad would contribute to a needless military recklessness on the part of Pakistan and certainly not strengthen the ongoing peace process in the sub-continent.... India negotiating an oil pipeline deal with Iran...is a project that is expected to address India’s rapidly growing energy needs and Washington’s expectation that India should subordinate its own long-term interests is absurd.... India must make it clear to the US that bilateral relations can improve only if the engagement is based on reciprocity.... Washington wants the UN to reflect American hegemonic control. India wants this change to be accommodated in a way that is more democratic, where power in the UNSC reflects not the post-World War II equations but that which exists today. New Delhi is keen that countries which have played a responsible global role for decades, like India itself has, are accommodated in the UNSC. Ms Rice’s non-committal stance on India’s quest for a permanent seat in the UNSC indicates that the two countries might call themselves ‘strategic partners’ but the distance between them is considerable."
Hindi-language influential centrist Navbharat Times asserted (3/18): "Condoleezza Rice knows India's gas and oil needs and considering it she proposed to talk on energy needs. It means that the U.S. will help in providing oil and gas through other sources.... But, India cannot depend on U.S.' nuclear proposals, and thus it should not cancel gas pipeline project but try to tell the U.S. that isolating Iran is not the solution of the problem. India can act as a mediator."
"Step On The Gas"
The centrist Times Of India stated (3/18): "Condoleezza Rice is employing a characteristic carrot-and-stick policy with New Delhi. First, she dangles the bait of supplying F-16s as well as joint production of the fighter jet. The next moment Rice makes disapproving noises on the proposed India-Iran gas pipeline. From Washington's perspective, there is no real contradiction in what Rice is saying. Indeed it is a win-win situation for the US. If the F-16 deal comes through then the US defense industry would receive a much-needed boost. One has to remember, of course, that the US won't be supplying F-16s to India alone. Pakistan is also clamoring for more F-16s and is likely to get them sometime in the future. So whatever advantage India might hope to gain by acquiring the F-16s would be quickly nullified. Next, if the US manages to scuttle the Iran pipeline, then Tehran remains economically isolated and India's energy requirements remain unmet. Rice has offered to compensate India by providing American technology for nuclear power. But this would ensure that India is dependent on US's whims and fancies. New Delhi needs to respond to U.S. realpolitik unambiguously: We must look to our interests first. And that entails going ahead with the Iran pipeline, which represents a host of advantages for India, even if it means losing out on fancy toys like the F-16s.... The benefits of the pipeline are manifold.... Since the Iran pipeline will pass through Pakistan and generate considerable revenue for Islamabad, it would provide a vital economic adhesive to Indo-Pakistan relations. The returns from the pipeline could be even greater for regional security and cooperation. The more Iran is integrated into the global economy, the greater the chances of regional stability. In fact, the Iran pipeline represents a diametrically opposite path to US foreign policy: The isolation of Iran in the name of nuclear non-proliferation unwittingly only serves to prop up hardliners in Tehran.... Like New Delhi, Islamabad must also realize that its interests are best served by regional cooperation and not by kowtowing to Washington.”
"Don't Be Conned By Condi"
The pro-economic-reform Economic Times maintained (3/18): "Nothing that U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said during her visit should dissuade India from pursuing energy contracts with Iran. The media are speculating that she has vetoed the proposed gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan. But this is not hers to veto. The U.S. position on Iran is well known, and it has sanctions in place for U.S. firms dealing with Iran. That has not stopped European, Japanese or Chinese firms from dealing with Iran, and must not stop India either. Indeed, India has recently tied up a major deal for getting LNG from Iran, and there has been no question of any U.S. pressure to renege. Mature countries must be able to reach strategic agreements while agreeing to disagree on several issues. Parliament deplored the U.S. invasion of Iraq, yet this has not come in the way of planned bilateral visits by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George Bush. China’s supply of nuclear bomb designs and equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs have not thwarted improved Sino-Indian ties. So, India must pursue energy ties with Iran even as it builds a new strategic relationship with the U.S. It is another matter that Pakistan may be too weak to withstand the U.S. pressure on Iran. But that will not affect the pipeline to India as Pakistan is planning a large gas import from Iran regardless of whether India joins the deal or not and this could be in jeopardy. However, all deals depend ultimately on economic viability. India and Pakistan have both woken up to the need to secure future energy supplies just when the world price of oil has broken all records. In any event, Rice’s offer of nuclear power stations built by American companies cannot be a viable alternative to Iran’s gas. Neither the economics nor environmental hazards justify anything more than a modest nuclear power program. Let us be clear about our energy priorities.”
"An Eye On The Goal"
The nationalist Hindustan Times declared (3/18): "The brief visit of Condoleezza Rice brings out the huge effort being made by India and the U.S. to develop better relations. American links with Pakistan had long bedeviled this, and now, it would seem, our ties with Iran could be a difficulty. Natwar Singh has very properly clarified that India has no problems with Iran, even while making it clear that it expects Teheran to observe the letter and spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Likewise, he has been forthright in pointing to ‘complications’ that could arise from possible F-16 sale to Pakistan. Of the two, Singh’s task was infinitely more complicated because it is one thing to be patted for being the world’s greatest democracy, and quite another to craft a course that avoids stepping on the sensitive, and somewhat large, toes of the world’s greatest military and economic power. Dr. Rices’ responses indicated that the chances of an Iranian pipeline coming up are bleak. Given the punitive American legislation in place against Iran, the promoters of the pipeline will find it difficult to obtain finance or technology. India may be brave enough to withstand U.S. pressure, but what about Pakistan? Yet the Indian side is correct in saying that the project is crucial for meeting our energy needs. And these cannot be met merely by a ‘broad energy dialogue’, as Dr. Rice suggested but the real stuff.... The Bush administration is trying through the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership to allow India to access financing and technology for nuclear power, but as of now that goal is still at some distance. Equally far, at this juncture, is the possibility of U.S. support for India’s candidature for a set in a reformed UNSC. But this should not dishearten us as there will be a huge discrepancy in the expectations and actions of a poor and developing country and the world’s sole superpower. Instead of getting lost in the maze of terms like ‘strategic partnership’ India must focus on practical, workmanlike steps to get what we can from our rich Uncle Sam, even while holding our head high.”
"U.S., India, And Iran"
Nationalist Urdu-language Qaumi Awaz held (3/18): "The tension in relations between Iran and the US is not because of Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. It is fundamentally caused by Iran’s refusal to ignore its national interests and to be dictated by the US. Extending its hegemonic policy, the US is now trying to undermine India’s cordial relations with Iran on the issue of the gas pipeline project. Today it is gas pipeline issue with Iran, tomorrow there will be objection to India’s growing relations with China and then there could be any step taken by New Delhi in the national interest but dislike by Washington. India must refuse to be prevailed upon on such issue. In the current situation, the GOI would be better advised to further strengthen political and economic relations not only with Iran but also with Russia and China.”
The centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph observed (3/18): "The visit of the American secretary of state, Ms Condoleezza Rice, to India has gone along predicted lines. As expected, Washington expressed reservations about the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline because of its concerns about the political regime in Tehran. New Delhi is concerned about the potential American sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan. Despite these differences, India’s relationship with Washington is probably on firmer ground today than it has been in many decades. It is unlikely, therefore, that New Delhi and Washington will allow these differing perceptions about Islamabad or Tehran significantly impact on their relationship. It would have been extraordinary if the U.S. had not reacted to India’s growing ties with Iran, especially the proposed pipeline.... However, New Delhi can potentially still play the role of a bridge between US and Iran given its strong relationship with both countries.... Differences over Pakistan were predictable.... The challenge for New Delhi and Washington is not just to develop a relationship independent of Pakistan, but to work together to ensure that Islamabad becomes a force of stability in the region rather then a cause of violence and extremism.... Despite many irritants, not all trivial, India’s relationship with the US seems to be more secure than it has been in the last 50 years. There is greater connectivity at the levels of the political leadership and senior officials, and the bandwidth has also greatly expanded."
"Pipeline In Doubt"
The Secunderabad-based left-of-center Deccan Chronicle opined (3/18): "Satisfaction over the positive overtones in the review of the state of India-US relations in the interaction between Indian leadership and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be somewhat diluted by the apprehension that the fate of the Iran-Pakistan-India project could be in jeopardy. Rice not only publicly articulated U.S. 'concerns' over the pipeline but broadly hinted that Washington’s disapproval of the project will be conveyed to Islamabad. Given the leverage that the US commands with Pakistan, it is reasonable to expect that Islamabad will come under greater pressure than India, notwithstanding Pakistan’s professed interest in and commitment to the pipeline proposal. It now remains to be seen how strong-willed Islamabad will be in resisting US pressures to back out even at the risk of its own long-term energy security stakes and even of creating roadblocks ahead of the ongoing Indo-Pak peace process. Punishment of Iran for its alleged nuclear weapon ambitions is now a vital element of President Bush’s foreign policy in his second term. Washington is unlikely to be impressed by External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh’s statement that India has 'no problems of any kind with Iran' or by his assessment that Iran will fulfill all its obligations with regard to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.... New Delhi cannot afford the luxury of abandoning it under arm-twisting threats from Washington. Rice’s offer of a broad US-India energy dialogue by way of compensating India for jettisoning Iran raises distant hopes, the fruition of which are subject to Washington’s ever-changing whims, whereas the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is an idea for the immediate present. The pipeline proposal is a tripartite commercial venture that has wide-ranging advantages for the nations concerned. If Washington’s claim that its relations with India have reached a high watermark of maturity is valid, it is all the more reason for it to be sensitive of Indian concerns."
"U.S.' Inappropriate Objection"
Hindi-language influential Dainik Jagran said (3/18): "The present situation shows that U.S. may adopt a hard-line attitude and may pressurize Pakistan for it. It can bitter Indo-U.S. relations certainly because India and Iran have started working on India-Iran pipeline project.... U.S. is announcing that it is strengthening relations with India but on the other hand it is neglecting India's interests. India should stay alert. In the past also, U.S. has raised objections on issues that benefit India. It's recent example is a negative reaction on India-Iran gas pipeline project. India will have to prepare to deal with this inappropriate pressure."
PAKISTAN: "Secretary Of State Rice Comes To Pakistan"
Syed Alamdar Raza opined in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (3/21): "As far as the U.S. Secretary of State’s person is concerned, she left a very good impression in Pakistan. She possesses powerful intellectual capability and has strong grip over events in history. She has given the impression that we would move toward a better future vis-à-vis our relations with America.... Improvement in our relationship with America would bring us in the position wherefrom we would be able to help America understand Muslim countries policies and difficulties."
"Condoleezza Rice’s Statement And Pakistan’s Defense Requirements"
Populist Urdu-language Khabrain held (3/21): "In separate interviews, Condoleezza Rice has said that it is necessary to provide weapons to Pakistan to fight the war against terror. She said we must keep in view the regional balance of power; the provision of F-16s to India would be discussed keeping in view this fact.... Although the U.S. Secretary of State has said that the U.S. needs to keep the balance of power in view, the fact is that it is not doing so. In one year alone, the U.S. has talked about providing Patriot Missiles and missile defense systems, besides signing deals to provide conventional weapons to India. This has severely tilted the balance of power in the region. On the one hand, the U.S. is providing favors to India, and on the other, it is depriving Pakistan of the F-16s that it has already paid for.... It is therefore; heartening that Pakistan is moving beyond deterrence. Pakistan must continue its search to find new avenues to meet its defense needs."
"Beyond U.S. Pressure"
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn commented (3/19): "No one expected any spectacular results from Mr. Condoleezza Rice's first visit to Pakistan as secretary of state, but the talks she had in Islamabad should, hopefully, lead to what Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri calls 'a long-term partnership' between the two countries.... Nevertheless, Ms Rice did not rub the point too hard and lauded "the courage" shown by the government and people of Pakistan in the war on terror. Security issues were not discussed at her press conference, but the U.S. secretary of state called the talks 'very productive' and reiterated America's commitment to the continuation of the current normalization process between Pakistan and India. Because of the long history of U.S.-Pakistan relations, Islamabad's policies, where Pakistani and American interests converge, are almost always interpreted as flowing from U.S. pressures."
"Positive Expectations From Condoleeza Rice’s Visit To Pakistan"
Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang observed (3/18): "At a time when Dr. Condoleeza Rice was appointed as the U.S. Secretary of State, certain quarters believed that she was a hardliner. However, this impression could not be verified up to this extent of her visit to Six South Asian and East Asian countries since at all places she has tried to apprise herself of the situation prevailing there by means of dialogue and discussions.... U.S. opposition to the Iran-India gas pipeline does not match with the Bush administration’s principle that there should be greater increase of mutual economic relations and social contacts between countries of the region. Gas pipeline is in the interest of both Pakistan and India and years of thinking has gone into this project. The U.S. opposition to this project is incomprehensible and is also in direct collision with its policy of enhancing regional cooperation."
"Visit Marks New Phase"
Fahd Husain contended in the centrist national English-language News (3/18): "The top U.S. diplomat has ended her tour of Pakistan and India on a feel-good note but without making any concrete announcements. For Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, this was billed as an introductory tour, and it remained so in terms of what she said, and what she did not. For India, she promised greater defense cooperation, more trade concessions, especially in the energy sector, a broad commitment for a visit by U.S. President complemented by a Washington invite for the Indian Prime Minister. For Pakistan, she promised a durable, multi-faceted partnership besides the usual pat on the back for fighting the war on terror and profuse praise for the leadership of President Musharraf. She also sidestepped questions about democracy and said she looked forward to free and fair elections in 2007. No surprises here."
"Gas Pipeline Project Under American Focus"
An editorial in sensationalist Urdu-language Ummat read (3/18): "The Indian position that it could abandon the gas pipeline deal since the Iranian gas is quite expensive has come at a time when the U.S. Secretary of State had warned India not to support the project. No matter how powerful India might be in the region, after the fall of the Soviet Union it is imperative for India to get closer to America for its own material and defense gains. Moreover by doing so it may help India to resolve the Kashmir issue according to its own wishes."
"U.S. Secretary Of State’s Visit To New Delhi And Islamabad"
Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt argued (3/18): "Before leaving for Pakistan, the U.S. Secretary of State said in New Delhi that India is not a regional power, it is a global power. (She added) India must not buy gas from Iran, the U.S. would fulfill its energy needs. Following this the Indian Petroleum Minister said that India could walk away from the pipeline project if Iran did not reduce the price. However, Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh has said that work on the project would continue. Pakistan nation has repeatedly said that Pakistan should import gas from Iran for its own use, not go through a $500 million deal just to benefit the economy of its enemy India. India is stopping Pakistan’s supply of water from all sides, why should we help strengthen its industry by facilitating gas supply?.... The U.S. Secretary of State must make it clear to the U.S. administration that its attitude towards friends is not right. If the U.S. moves forward to resolve issues that Pakistan has with India, there would be no bitterness between the two once the Kashmir issue is resolved according to the Kashmiris’ aspirations."
"Condoleezza Rice’s Visit"
Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan contended (3/18): "U.S.-Pakistan relations have been inconsistent and subject to America’s interest. When America needs Pakistan, it describes Pakistan as the cornerstone of its foreign policy and when the need ends, it throws us in the trashcan like a used tissue.... Not only that, but it also makes life miserable by imposing economic and defense sanctions.... One issue is that of nuclear proliferation.... The government of Pakistan effort is to evade nuclear proliferation accusation on the state of Pakistan and blame it on Dr. A.Q. Khan. In this respect America can ask Pakistan’s cooperation in its aggressive designs against Iran, similar to the cooperation Pakistan provided to America at the time of aggression against Afghanistan.... America will have to reconsider its strategy for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Lasting peace cant come to the Subcontinent unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved. Ironically, America has agreed to give India the Patriot Missile system and F-16s aircraft. Why would India talk with Pakistan after undermining balance of power in the region? One of the reasons for the Rice’s visit is to have the Pakistan-Iran gas line accord revoked. However, the countries of the region should not revoke the agreement by succumbing to U.S. pressure. India happens to be the largest democracy of the world and it should not cancel the agreement with Iran. Regrettably Indian minister Mani Shankar has now asked Iran to reduce gas price or face revocation of the agreement. Why did India have the agreement with Iran in the first place if it did not agree with the price, the gentleman should be asked.... Pakistan has accepted many orders from America and it will have to say ‘enough’ someday."
"Condoleezza Rice’s Visit And South Asian Situation"
Popular Urdu-language Khabrain asserted (3/18): "It is hoped that President Bush, who describes Pakistan as a close ally and President Musharraf as a friend, would consider the need for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The resolution is a must for lasting peace in the region.... Another issue is that of restrictions on Pakistan for the acquisition of conventional weapons and free hand to India to do the same. This has disturbed the balance of power in the region. Recent U.S.-India agreements for the supply of defense hardware has undermined the balance of power further.... Pakistan needs to have F-16s aircraft to maintain this balance of power."
"Pakistan’s Defense Requirements And America"
Karachi-based, pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu-language Islam averred (3/18): "After seeing the outcome of the country’s relations with the U.S. thus far, the people of Pakistan have started losing hope and getting discouraged with their leadership’s strategy of pinning more and more hopes with the U.S. The serious and informed political and journalistic quarters of the country have started feeling that Pakistan’s rulers are undergoing a process of self-deceit with reference to their relations with America. The visiting U.S. Secretary of State has also restrained herself from talking about the outstanding issue of giving F-16s to Pakistan. It is high time that Pakistan reviewed its current policy with regards to the U.S."
"U.S. Secretary Of State Madam Rice In South Asia"
Independent Urdu-language Din concluded (3/18): "The important aspect of Madam Rice’s visit to New Delhi was that she expressed U.S. reservations about the gas pipeline project, and openly demanded that India refrain from buying gas from Iran. This has put India in a tight spot.... This is a kind of challenge for India’s independent foreign policy and it remains to be seen whether India can withstand U.S. pressure or not.... However, India has started preparing the ground to withdraw from the gas pipeline project; the demand that Iran reduce its gas price is perhaps linked to this.... As far as Pak-U.S. relations are concerned, there are only two important issues for the U.S. First, the war on terror, and second, nuclear non-proliferation.... Hence these would be on top of Madam Rice’s agenda for talks.... Time will also tell whether Pakistan has also been asked to drop the gas pipeline project with Iran and how the Pakistan government has responded to it."
"Rice And Our Needs"
The center-right national English-language Nation editorialized (3/18): "It seems clear that Secretary Rice, who met General Musharraf and Mr. Aziz on Wednesday, has made the supply of F-16s to Pakistan contingent upon clearance from India, which amounts to telling us 'forget about it'.... If anyone in Pakistan thinks that India would give it the nod, he is sadly mistaken. Washington has virtually no leverage with New Delhi.... The official's remark, quoting Dr. Rice that the U.S. administration could not ignore the legitimate requirements of its important ally (Pakistan) in the War on Terror, is neither here nor there. Who knows, the U.S. might be asking what use are F-16s in patrolling the Afghan border! On another issue vital for both Pakistan and India, the gas line from Iran, the U.S. appears to be keener to keep its perceived strategic interests uppermost and has advised them to shelve it, showing little consideration for their needs.... Should Islamabad bow to Washington's pressure, New Delhi could always plead its helplessness with Tehran and blame us for scuttling the deal. Dr. Rice also made no commitment to help us get into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Islamabad should look beyond her effusive praise for its role in fighting terrorism to see whether the U.S. is genuinely interested in our welfare. A pat on the back is no substitute for the F-16s, for instance, that we badly need for our defense."
"What Has Condoleezza Rice Come For?"
Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Urdu-language Jasarat commented (3/18): "The newly appointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is touring Asia to remind these countries of Bush policies. In India she assured the Indian leadership that the U.S. will take care of its defense needs and forced the sale of F-16s on India but Pakistan, which still relies on American friendship, is still awaiting the delivery of F-16s planes despite the fact that the payment of same has already been made. When Islamabad asked U.S. for its defense needs then Rice would only say that she would look into it."
AFGHANISTAN: "U.S. Secretary Of State's Visit"
State-run Hewad stated (3/19): "The visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kabul and her meetings with President Hamed Karzai and other senior officials are of great importance.... Her visit proves that Afghanistan is still on the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda. Ms Rice explicitly said that the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan after the defeat of the Soviet Union and this policy resulted in several problems. Today, America has learnt a lesson from that policy and henceforth it will never turn its back on Afghanistan. She praised the Afghan nation for making great progress in implementing democracy and forming the state system over the past three years. She described this as an example of success for Afghanistan. She said that the present Afghanistan was not a hotbed of terrorism, but a stronghold of the international campaign against it. Ms Rice once again renewed the U.S. commitment to the reconstruction of our country. She said that America would stand by Afghanistan and support the ongoing positive political process. Her visit will also contribute to improving our relations with countries of the region. This increases our hopes for further progress. We should admit that the U.S. support for Afghanistan is a guarantee of our success. Now it is up to U.S. how to utilize the assistance and support of the U.S. and the international community in resolving our problems. We should utilize this support in full to boost the government system and rid the country of narcotics and poverty. All political parties, social organizations, tribal leaders, religious scholars, intellectuals and compatriots should familiarize themselves with the current circumstances and work together to rebuild the country. Everyone should realize his duty and render services for the nation and country. We consider it our national duty to make use of the present golden opportunity. We should not miss it."
"Mr. Karzai! Consult With The People On Permanent Stay Of U.S. Forces"
Independent Cheragh noted (3/17): "The consecutive trips of the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Afghanistan indicate President Bush’s fervent interest in political and military developments in the region. Rice is coming to Kabul at a time when the issue of establishing permanent U.S. bases in Afghanistan is the hot topic at every political gathering in the country. The Afghan people are concerned about the presence of foreign troops in their country as they have bitter memories of foreign presence in their territory in the past. Although the White House and the Pentagon have not yet elaborated on their long-term strategies in Afghanistan nor have they rejected the proposal of Senator John McCain (for a permanent base here), one can infer that the Afghan authorities support the long-term strategic presence of U.S.in Afghanistan.”
BANGLADESH: "A Paradigm Shift In U.S. Foreign Policy"
The centrist English-language News Today commented (3/22): "It seems that Condoleezza Rice, the new United States Secretary of State, is in the process of redefining her country’s role as the lone super power of the world. She has used her present swing through Asia to send the signals. From warning the Europeans that it would be 'irresponsible' to arm China to the remark that 'Bangladesh is becoming quite troubling' everything points to a strategy that is built around a desire to rule the world. Her stand against the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline is also an example. We are particularly shocked by Ms Rice’s remarks about Bangladesh. Like so many other countries, we also have our problems but nothing that we cannot solve ourselves. Also they are in our opinion not serious enough to attract the attention of such an important world personality as Ms Rice. The remark that 'there is more that the US and India can do' leaves us wondering what that 'more' could mean. The Foreign Office would be well advised to seek a clarification through diplomatic channels. If Washington has any reservations it could easily convey them to Dhaka through diplomatic channels. We shall not be surprised if, as a result of this public statement, Indo-Bangladesh relations develop fresh irritants. That would be a problem that we can do well without. In the days to come we can expect to see a paradigm shift in US foreign policy with the emphasis more on ruling than on leading."
"The Visit Of Condoleezza Rice"
Conservative Bangla-language Ittefaq opined (3/20): "What Condoleezza Rice said during her visit to India and Pakistan means that the U.S. wants to strengthen its bilateral relations with India and Pakistan. India and the U.S. have agreed to reduce tension and control fundamentalist forces in the subcontinent. We commend these wishes. There are other South Asian countries that have also some regional problems. These issues should also be resolved for the sake of uninterrupted peace in the region. It would be better if she discusses these issues in addition to the Indo-Pak conflict, Iran's energy issue and the situation in Nepal. The people of the world expect the U.S. to work for peace in the world. Its policies toward North Korea and Iran are praiseworthy. There is no doubt that the U.S. will receive support from European and South and Southeast Asian nations if it continues follow these policies. We would expect that President Bush and his Secretary of State's visit to the subcontinent would include some other countries also."
BRITAIN: "A Superpower Faces China's Rise. Washington Should Engage Beijing, Not Try To Contain It"
An editorial in the independent Financial Times read (3/23): "It all sounds clear enough, but the truth is that U.S. policy towards China remains confused.... U.S. officials insist such compromises are part of a careful policy of engagement with Beijing. If so, there is cause for muted celebration, for engagement is the only sensible way of dealing with a rising China. Let there be engagement, and let it be robust and honest. Unfortunately, it looks as though Mr Bush and his confidants, are still wary of engagement and favor the idea of containing China militarily. Ms Rice is an experienced cold war warrior.... Although she is too much the diplomat to say the word in connection with China, containment is on her mind.... Globalization, not Maoist or Soviet-style isolation, is the order of the day. The US should engage wholeheartedly with Beijing to encourage such thoughts. A mistake in dealing with the rise of China would dwarf the errors made in the Middle East."
"Condoleezza In Asia"
An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph read (3/21): "Miss Rice's tour has not produced dramatic progress towards solutions of intractable problems. For instance, despite its impatience with the North Koreans, it is not clear whether Washington has any plans beyond the six-party talks for curbing their nuclear ambitions. But it has confirmed a pattern of warm praise for allies such as Japan and blunt talking to those, such as China, which could as well prove a strategic competitor as a partner. And in all this, Miss Rice's interlocutors can be sure that, unlike her predecessor, Colin Powell, she speaks for George W. Bush."
Peter Sturm said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/22): "Secretary Rice's trip to Asia has set in motion several things. South Korea...feels slighted towards Tokyo, China had to accept several critical remarks by Ms. Rice but at the same time feels courted as mediator in the conflict with North Korea. The reason of many evils in the region, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il, would be well-advised to do what he and his likes like to do: the speeches which Ms. Rice delivered included some offers to North Korea. She pledged again that Washington has no intention to attack North Korea, and in this context, she spoke of a 'sovereign state,' a remark which should be interpreted as an indication that regime change is not (immediately?) in the offing. And finally, all offers to help economically were reiterated again. If Pyongyang does not seize this opportunity and returns to the negotiating table, it must blame itself for the consequences. Then 'other options' may be considered."
Torsten Krauel noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/22): "During her trip to South Asia, Secretary Rice made three things clear: First the uniform front against North Korea stands.... Second, as a security policy distant goal, the U.S. pins its hopes on multilateral Asian fora similar to the OSCE. At the same time, the U.S. is making provisions for the future, i.e. for the time that China is thinking in terms of a major power. That is why the U.S. is seeking proximity with India. Third, with respect to development policy, Japan and the U.S. are to become major donors. President Bush continues to push his idea of a Marshall Plan for Africa.... In the long run, the most important thing is the U.S. approaches to India. Rice left no doubt that she hopes for the development of a democratic China that respects 'international standards' but she also indicated that China could also lose its role as a pole of stability. North Korea is now unifying both powers but this need not be. China is a rival at the commodity markets, India will become such a rival, but India did not spread its nuclear technology in contrast to China. India is a democracy and has an influence on Pakistan.... Washington wants to avoid a new formation of alliances. Multilateral security has absolute priority, but Washington is also preparing for the inevitable. If a balance of forces that is based on alliances is the only possible policy to maintain interests, Washington does not want to be unprepared."
"New Signals To North Korea"
Frank Herold opined in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (3/22): "The U.S. secretary of state toured the region for six days...but her message remained the same: Condoleezza Rice called upon the regime in North Korea to return to the negotiating table to talk about a stop of its nuclear program.... But the U.S. secretary of state tried to strike a different tone this time. She said the negotiations were the only place where North Korea could get the necessary respect and the necessary assistance. Of course this is still not very concrete, but this direction offers the only possible way out: If at all, Pyongyang can be prompted to react only by offering a positive stimulus to return to the disarmament talks. The coming days will show whether the regime is willing to accept the secretary's more conciliatory choice of words."
"Gesture Of Distrust"
Henrik Bork said in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/21): "Condoleezza Rice could not communicate better that her government continues to consider North Korea a rogue state. She had hardly landed in Seoul when she boarded a helicopter, which took her to the demarcation line.... Diplomatic protocol would have required her make a stopover with her host first. But this clear gesture was not only meant to intimidate Pyongyang.... No, this appearance was meant to be a signal to the hawks in Washington. Rice had to demonstrate that she is striking a tougher tone towards North Korea...since conservative Congress members...have been calling for a UNSC resolution. But as clear as her gesture was, as unclear is still the U.S. course towards North Korea. What sense does it make if Rice continues to support a multilateral dialogue with North Korea when she shortly before, describes the country as an 'outpost of tyranny?' Of course, this is the truth...but if the U.S. secretary of state seriously wants a diplomatic solution for North Korea, it should replace military gestures and great words with constructive proposals."
"How Condoleezza Rice Ignores Dangers"
Frank Herold noted in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (3/18): "Two weeks ago, officials in Washington presented the following alarming view: An enormous threat to the world is still emanating from Afghanistan. Now we also hear officials saying: Afghanistan has turned from a source of terror to a steadfast fighter against terrorism. What happened over the past 14 days? Nothing, with the exception of the fact that Secretary Rice spent a few hours in Kabul. During this opportunity she said this second phrase, and it is totally open on which facts she based her optimism. At least it does not fit two other reports from Afghanistan from the same day. Five people died in a bomb attack and President Karzai had to say that parliamentary elections will take place in September 2005, not in June 2004, as originally planed. But Mrs. Rice optimism does not fit reports from narcotics agents. Afghanistan tripled the production of opium in 2004.... It is hardly imaginable that stability and democratization can be based on the production of opium. We can only quote Mrs. Rice again: She said that Afghanistan's development is an 'inspiration for the peoples all over the world.' We can only hope that she is not right."
"The New Balance"
Oliver Müller penned the following editorial for business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (3/17): "The dynamic growth on the Asian continent and the power of the demographic development will lead to a gradual shift of the economic and political gravitation center from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Ocean. At the same time, the only rival to the U.S. superpower is growing in this region: China. Against this background, it is a signal that Secretary Rice began her trip to Asia in India and promised a deepening of security and energy cooperation. The rise of the second Asian giant is taking place slower than the one of China but it happens according to democratic rules. That is why India's significance for the power balance between China, Japan, and the United States is growing.... It is characteristic that Rice will present U.S. security policy towards Asia in a keynote speech in Tokyo. The United States wants to praise U.S. security guarantees as a key to Asia's growing prosperity and promise the continent a permanent U.S. engagement. But the U.S. must repeat this message again and again, for in Asia the impression is growing that an America that focuses on wars, terrorism, and domestic ideological struggles, has lost interest in Asia.... But yesterday, U.S. diplomacy was shown its limit: the planned sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan met with sharp criticism from Delhi. When India's Foreign Minister Singh told his guest from Washington that India has no problem with Iran, he again emphasized the new course of India's foreign policy. In the meantime, India has oriented its policy to tough economic interests. This means that it will be difficult for third parties to use it for their power policy calculations. This is even true for China. In Delhi, China is no longer considered a political rival but an important economic partner. This clearly shows the [U.S.] limits of India's role for the 'containment' of China."
ITALY: "Rice Admonishes China--‘Religious Freedom For All’"
Federico Rampini wrote in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (3/22): “The most lasting image will be the one of a...daughter of a Protestant minister, who arrived in Beijing on Palm Sunday, who wanted to pray with other believers, and who personally saw the limits of freedom of thought in China, in the heart of the new superpower that challenges American hegemony. It’s the perfect set-up, prepared in detail by the effective communications apparatus of the U.S. State Department, which well portrays the attitude of the most powerful woman in world foreign policy. Rice does not speak the arrogant language of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. She never raises her voice and her kindness is exemplary. But neither does she make concessions to her interlocutors.... Condoleezza Rice faced her first Chinese summit as Secretary of State with determination. She challenged Beijing’s leadership on human rights, religious freedom and democracy.”
"Seduction And Aggressiveness, Tourism And God, The Blend Of Her Secret Adviser"
Elite, center-left Il Riformista stated (3/22): “Condi Rice’s Asian trip is illuminating...the State Department’s strong points under Bush’s second mandate. No matter where she goes, her interlocutors know that the themes discussed will be immediately brought to the President’s attention, unlike what would happen with Powell.... Rice is able to speak frankly because of her close ties to the White House, which was impossible for the former Secretary of State.... The promotion of freedom and democracy has become a traveling agenda.... An essential part of this blend of seduction and aggressiveness is due to her personal adviser Philip Zelikow, who is her speechwriter, media planner and close friend.... The churches she tirelessly visits on every leg of her trip are a symbol of the importance that religion holds in the Administration’s vision of freedom.... She may not want to run for the White House in 2008, but at the moment after only a few months Rice leaves a more indelible mark than those, like former General Powell, who were really considering running for the White House.”
"Rice In Beijing--Immediately Rebukes The Europeans"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli noted in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (3/21): “Condoleezza the Far East version. She’s not much different from her other appearances. She talked with Seoul and renewed a sort of ultimatum without deadline to North Korea.... She means America will not wait to take counter measures in case Pyongyang ignores its neighbors’ and, above all, Washington’s pressure to give up its nuclear program.... And, for the umpteenth time, Rice rebuked the Europeans: ‘We, not Europe, handle security in the Pacific.’ So why the criticism? It’s probably a sign of Washington’s dissatisfaction over initiatives such as the four-party summit in Paris the other day (Chirac, Schroeder, Zapatero and Putin) and above all with the conclusion that renewed almost unconditional confidence in Putin despite the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine democratic freedoms, not only in Chechnya.... However, America isn’t...completely uncompromising and logical regarding the human rights issue: Washington just announced the withdrawal of a resolution that would have accused Beijing of violations at the UN. Double standard? Undoubtedly.”
"Rice Hosted in Beijing, The Most Dangerous Friend"
Paolo Mastrolilli asserted in centrist, influential La Stampa (3/21): “Rice’s difficult balancing act: on one side she must put the brakes on Chinese military ambitions, prevent Europeans from furnishing weapons, promote democracy and religious freedom, and protect Taiwan; on the other she must continue economic relations and cooperation on the Korean problem, which are in everyone’s interest.”
"Condi Rice, Asian Dove"
Leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore noted (3/18): “Rice is once again at work on the U.S. world image. She maintains her magic touch. Yesterday, she was welcomed with a sigh of relief: ‘She is better than Colin Powell…’ according to the Hindustan Times.... Her task is however quite different from her restorative mission in Europe. Her visits to Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea and China, show such deep political differences.... It’s not a single [Asian] mission, but several separate missions, all underlined by caution.... There is however a common link overcoming that political kaleidoscope: economics.”
RUSSIA: "The U.S. Tries To Scare Asia With Korea Crisis"
Vasiliy Mikheyev observed in reformist Vremya Novostey (3/22): "Rice can't live with the North Korea situation not moving to a solution and with Pyongyang remaining in control. Rice wants results, unlike her predecessor Powell, who wanted a process, according to experts. Beijing, Seoul and Moscow would like to salvage the six-party negotiations and keep the U.S. from making abrupt moves, an increasingly hard job, given the Americans' impatience.... The U.S. Secretary of State plays into Russia's hands. As long as the arms embargo is in place, our arms manufacturers will face no competition on the Chinese market. Against the U.S.' ambiguous policy, Moscow's support for Beijing on the Taiwan issue looks quite consistent and helps foster Russian-Chinese partnership."
"Re-Dividing The World's Energy Resources"
Artur Blinov noted in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (3/21): "Modern diplomacy increasingly serves business, of which the Rice tour is just an example. Fuel and energy dominated the negotiations. As oil and natural gas prices go up, the world's interest in sources of energy, including sources of nuclear energy, grows, too. With diplomacy focusing on energy, many political slogans lose their initial meaning. Calls for democracy and a war on 'tyranny' are used in fighting competition, and curses against 'tyranny' and references to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are mouthed in the same breath as proposals to buy from Westinghouse. The struggle for access to mineral resources causes blurry eyes, with an acclaim of 'democratic development' becoming a reward for trade and military concessions, a kind of advance payment. Countries like Libya and Burma, forgotten and forsaken, suddenly snap out of oblivion, attracting an endless chain of high-ranking delegations. That is characteristic of the current state of international relations, which looks more like re-dividing the world's energy resources."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Predator And Dove"
Eduard Freisler commented in center-right Lidove noviny (3/21): “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will end her Asian tour today, which was carried out in the spirit of the biggest American value--freedom. This word sounded in speeches of the Secretary of State most often during the tour.... But then she arrived in China...and the noble American ideals perished there. Despite China hiding on its territory real darkness and evil in the form of labor camps and executions of its political opponents, Rice speaks about open, cooperative and constructive U.S.-Chinese relations. The U.S. has simply started realizing that on the map of the world a new superpower is emerging which has to be dealt with carefully.”
DENMARK: "Fears That Taiwan Conflict Of Interest Could Spiral Out Of Control"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten editorialized (3/21): "The U.S. is in China's debt both economically and in terms of trade. China is America's largest trading partner in Asia and the Chinese National Bank holds American bonds worth millions of dollars. The Chinese proposal should be seen in this light, but the danger is that the test of strength over Taiwan will run out of control. This could possibly lead to a military conflict between China, the U.S. and Japan."
HUNGARY: “Work Object”
Gyula Krajczar noted in top-circulation, center-left Nepszabadsag (3/22): “[Taiwan] is the only point of tension where the U.S. is, or may be, in direct confrontation with one of the--let’s put it this way--second-line large powers. Indeed, Secretary of State Condi Rice does not like the new developments.... What are changing to the greatest degree are China’s significance and the weight of the words of its leaders. We are experiencing the years of China’s emancipation, and its priorities matter very much. Because that it will take place is inevitable.... On the issue of Taiwan, the West has an...argument, and that is democracy.... It is a fact, though, that it is not what Beijing is critical about, it is not a problem for them, and the story is not about that. For China, this is an issue of sovereignty and indirectly an issue of being a large power, while for Washington, it is only an issue of being a large power, in which Chinese sovereignty is just a work object.”
SPAIN: "Rice In Asia"
Centrist La Vanguardia judged (3/22): "The US strategy is based on the fear that China really emerges as a big military power, as it is already doing in the economic area, and will break the current geopolitical balance. The EU, whose arms industry dreams of millions of sales, says to trust in China as a new power, one that this fits into the vision of a multipolar world, and something that causes an allergic reaction to the U.S., the 'hyperpower.'"
UAE: "Time For Tough Talk"
The English-language expatriate-oriented Khaleej Times declared (3/20): "On the last leg of her Asian tour in Japan, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called on North Korea to return immediately to talks aimed at halting its nuclear programme. But Pyongyang says Rice must apologise for her earlier description of the country as an ‘outpost of tyranny’ before it considers resuming talks. This North Korean episode seems to be going too far...with each passing day, North Korea is closer to having the bomb. And all this is the result of the follies of European countries, China and Japan who are only delaying the inevitable by not taking a firm stand against the totalitarian regime. There have been enough consultations and good-intentioned reasoning to persuade the North to give up its nuclear ambitions. But so far, they don’t seem to be leading anywhere. All the time, Pyongyang puts up a new condition for the talks.... It’s not serious about coming to the discussion table, and is only buying time to build the bomb. Once it is ready, it can threaten and blackmail the world. Even now, the North has indulged in enough blackmail to set terms for the talks.... Still, the U.S. has agreed to the talks option offered by other countries, but now, it’s becoming clearer that Pyongyang has no intention of dismantling its nuclear programme.... The stationing of American troops in Iraq has emboldened the Korean dictator to think that the US will invade his country.The secrecy over the nuclear programme has also helped him in his blackmailing tactics. But the time to act is now. Persuasions have not worked with Pyongyang. It needs some tough talk to see reason. And the U.S., China, Japan--all need to do that."
CANADA: "No Arms For China"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (3/23): “American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got a nice little bonus Monday as she was leaving China. It was not the bonus she was hoping to find there, which would have been a commitment by Beijing to pressure North Korea to return to multi-national talks about its nuclear weapons program. Beijing, in fact, gave Ms Rice the brush-off on that issue, leaving her to publicly speculate that Washington might reconsider its options if China would not co-operate in curbing North Korea's ambitions. The bonus, rather, came from Europe.... The EU announced that it had postponed its plans to lift the arms embargo. This turnabout appears to have been influenced by two factors. One is European alarm over China's decision to enact legislation authorizing the invasion of Taiwan if the country were to formally declare independence from Mainland China. The second is the impact that Ms Rice and Mr. Bush had on their European visits.... Since she became secretary of state Ms Rice has made two important trips abroad--to Europe and to Asia. Both are attempts to show the world that there is a new mood in the White House.... Bush himself is unlikely to win friends or influence people.... Rice, however, made a strongly favourable impression on the Europeans.... She may have made an equally strong if not quite so favourable impression in China. She unequivocally drew attention to China's repression of religious freedom and urged it to move more quickly towards democracy.... China's leaders don't like to hear that kind of talk, but they do understand it. It is the kind of talk that might make them decide soon to revisit the issue of North Korea. That might mean another bonus for the secretary of state--and her boss."
"Worries Surface That The U.S. Is Losing Ground To China"
Jonathan Manthorpe observed in the left-of-center Vancouver Sun (3/22): "While Washington has been distracted by its adventures in the Middle East and the Islamic world for more than three years, U.S. power and influence in Asia has slipped markedly as China becomes a diplomatic and military competitor. The seemingly inexorable rise of China, with India a likely future contender and Europe increasingly determined to follow its own interests, is changing the vocabulary among American analysts and commentators. The unchallenged self-confidence of the world's only 'superpower' is giving way to as yet guarded worries that the U.S. is becoming a 'weary Titan.'"
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