June 13, 2005
CHINA: RUMSFELD'S 'BLISTERING ATTACK' MARKS 'SIGNIFICANT' SHIFT
** Papers share Rumsfeld's concern about "Beijing's consistent efforts" to boost its military.
** Pro-PRC dailies blast Rumsfeld's "belligerent comments" as hypocritical.
** Analysts say Rumsfeld's speech "reflects insecurity" over China's "unprecedented" growth.
** The U.S. seeks regional allies to "counterbalance China's power."
'Caution toward China's excessive military expansion'-- Beijing critics backed Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's Singapore speech criticizing both the PRC's effort to "drastically expand its military capability" and its status as a "one-party state extremely intolerant of dissent." Japan's conservative Sankei stressed there is "nothing...posing a threat to China," while Britain's independent Financial Times held Rumsfeld "argued convincingly that Chinese reform is much too slow." Pro-independence media in Taiwan backed "concrete action" to halt "China's expansionism" and compared the "terrorist" country to a "rogue state." Taiwan Daily opined that China "not only threatens Taiwan's security, but world peace as well."
U.S. true 'threat to world peace'-- Several papers noted the U.S. is "sparing no effort to research and develop...advanced military systems"; the same concerns Rumsfeld raised could be "asked of America's own military expansion." Pro-PRC Macau Daily News argued the U.S. tells "the world to do what it says, not what it does" given its own policy to "ensure U.S. military superiority over China." To these critics, Rumsfeld's "hawkish views" indicate an "aggressive and out of touch" Washington. Other Chinese papers held his comments "portraying China as a military threat" aim to "create a pretext to interfere" in the Taiwan straits.
'Fears of regional division and instability'-- Both China's "quick ascendance as a great economic and military power" and "Washington's new hostility" toward Beijing led media to see a "changing security paradigm in East Asia." Italy's influential La Repubblica opined that China is "destined to become America's true rival." Singapore's pro-government Straits Times agreed that "whether the West likes it or not, China will become a great power"--one with "increasingly aggressive political and military policies," according to Romania's intellectual Revista 22. Leftist dailies criticized the U.S. determination to "portray China as its opponent," which China's official Global Times said will "weaken Asia-Pacific peace and stability."
U.S. 'surrounding China'-- Asian papers termed Rumsfeld's statements a "bugle call to demonize and contain China." They cited U.S. policies of "strengthening the alliance" with Japan and making India a "big regional player" as proof Washington seeks to "offset China's growing influence" in Asia. Hong Kong's pro-PRC Ta Kung Pao panned the U.S.' "incessant schemes" to "sow discord in China's relations with other countries," adding that the U.S. sought a "pretext to contain China." Noting a "disaffected" Chinese diplomat's asylum bid, Aussie writers urged Canberra not to be "bullied or browbeaten" by a "harsh authoritarian state" regardless of the "vast and lucrative" Chinese market.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 30 reports from 16 political entitites over 5 - 13 June, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Sooner Or Later China Will Embrace Democracy"
Chief Asia correspondent Victor Mallet commented in the independent Financial Times (6/7): "The rapid growth of the Chinese economy must be, and will be, accompanied by political reform.... The key question is one of timing.... Pointing to a post-Soviet economic collapse and the revival of authoritarian rule in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, Asian authoritarians make a plausible cause that Soviet political reform was much too fast. As defence secretary it may not be his job, but Mr. Rumsfeld has argued convincingly that Chinese reform is much too slow."
ITALY: "Rumsfeld Attacks China"
Federico Rampini noted in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (6/5): “After the textiles and the currency, Washington is now opening a new front with China: rearmament. The U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld yesterday issued a warning on Beijing’s ascent of military power, accusing it of disrupting strategic balances. The tone he used with China had been unheard for some time.... Behind Rumsfeld’s statements is a controversial report from the Pentagon that adjusted upward the data furnished by the Chinese government on military expenditures. The Pentagon's document contains the new ‘Bush doctrine’ toward China, which puts the Asian giant back at the center of American strategic concerns. This was George Bush’s line back in 2001, when he first took office; but September 11 changed the priorities. For some time now neo-conservative circles in Washington have maintained that military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq have distracted attention from what is destined to become America’s true rival.”
AUSTRIA: "Rumsfeld's Reprimand For Beijing"
Christoph Winder observed in independent Der Standard (6/6): "On Saturday, American Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, generally prone to strong statements, singled out China as a target for reprimand. The leadership in Beijing, according to Rumsfeld, is spending much more money on armament than it admits to.... However, the question is also of how and in what way the capitalist system that won an overwhelming victory over communism will be able to hold its own in global competition. The attitude of the EU and the US toward China reflects many fears among the industrialized states themselves.... Statements such as Rumsfeld's reflect insecurity that goes beyond the specific case to assume a global dimension. To deal with this insecurity, it will no longer be sufficient for capitalism to take a triumphant attitude towards ideologies that have perished - instead, it will have to develop cleverer alternatives."
IRELAND: "Assessing China's Development"
The center-left Irish Times asserted (6/7): "China's strong growth continues to draw investment and trade from the rest of the world, so much so that it is prudent to pay attention to the political conditions which underlie this economic performance. U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld put his finger on the problem when he contrasted the country's economic and political reforms, and asked whether the difference between them is sustainable in the longer term.... Clearly the US is cultivating relations with India to offset China's growing influence in Asian and world affairs. Clearly, too, Mr Rumsfeld's role in strategic planning gives him a different perspective on China's position than the State Department.... Both of them have stressed the need for ongoing political and human rights reforms as China's development proceeds apace. A number of the reforms sought by the student leaders in 1989 have since been achieved, many of them by dint of the remarkable economic growth over the last decade.... China is a vast country with many social, geographical and economic contrasts, undergoing an unprecedented developmental journey. It must be allowed to do so at its own pace, its leaders insist. They will resent Mr Rumsfeld's remarks--but they should listen carefully to them. He also warns its neighbors about China's growing military strength; it tends to be matched with a growing nationalism, which many observers see as an alternative social glue to the waning appeal of communist ideology. Even those most suspicious of Mr Rumsfeld's policies should pay close attention to these observations.”
ROMANIA: "Unclear Future"
Nicolae Filipescu wrote in intellectual weekly Revista 22 (6/8): "It remains to be seen if, in the future, the US and Japan, the current dominant powers in Asia, will be able to adjust their foreign policies in such a way that they tolerate, without any massive bloodshed, China’s quick ascendance as a great economic and military power.... Officials in Beijing believe they are entitled to assume an increasingly aggressive political and military position, which will inevitably conflict with the US and with Japan. The national interests of the US and of Japan are to avoid a military conflict. Even though they have essentially different opinions on Taiwan, on the role of the US in Asia, and on the ‘unique polarity’ of the global power, both countries have avoided a policy of direct confrontation so far.... Engaged in a fierce fight for the domination of the continent, the US-Japan-China axis has transformed Eastern Asia into an unstable region.... In order to prevent a disastrous and irrational conflagration, it is imperative for the leaders of the powerful states to temper their nationalism, give up their excessive claims and support the regional and global structures that will promote the peaceful end of conflicts, economic cooperation and collective security.”
UAE: "Censuring China"
The pro-government expatriate-oriented Khaleej Times declared (6/5): "Even those not subscribing to Donald Rumsfeld’s worldview would agree that China has a problem balancing its economic progress with democratic reforms. The US secretary of state surprised many in Asia and stunned China itself this weekend by launching a blistering attack on Beijing. Rumsfeld chose the unusual venue of Singapore--the city-state with majority ethnic Chinese population and not far from China--to lecture the rising superpower and Asian giant on democracy, reforms and liberalisation. Frankly, China has problems on all these fronts. Although the country is not as closed and oppressive as it used to be under the tyranny of Mao, it still is a one-party state extremely intolerant of dissent. While it has taken big leaps on economic front and is asserting itself as a world power, it continues to live in dark ages when it comes to respect for human rights and democracy. It is possible that Rumsfeld’s outburst against China may be pointing to the shape of things to come. Washington, wary of a resurgent China, has lately been trying to project India as a big regional player to counterbalance Beijing’s power. Not for nothing Condi Rice recently offered to help India become a world power. And now Rumsfeld has drawn a stark contrast between China and India saying while US relationship with India would grow in the months and years to come, he couldn’t be so sure with China. If Rumsfeld was indeed voicing his master’s opinion, then we may be witnessing a significant shift in world power equations."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "A Fragile China Friendship"
Tony Parkinson opined in the liberal Melbourne-based Age (6/7): "It is a case that reminds us why the relationship between Australia and the communist giant, although stronger today than perhaps it has ever been, is inherently difficult. For although a powerhouse in the trade and diplomacy of East Asia, the government in Beijing remains pathologically intolerant of internal dissent, and especially prickly about its policies being held up to scrutiny by outsiders... The first thing to be said is that it would be outrageous for Australia to begin to think of sending Chen home. Whether his claims are true or false, he is already a bona fide human rights cause.... Given China's value as a vast and lucrative market for Australia's energy exports, close relations have become a business imperative, and a top priority for policy-makers. But surely not at the price of being bullied or browbeaten. If Australia is to be a serious middle power, rather than a supplicant in Asia, if there is to be consistency of principle and purpose to policy, there will be moments when it is necessary to risk offending communist China. This is one of those moments, just as Taiwan might one day be another."
"No Case For Expelling Chen"
The conservative national Australian held (6/7): "The federal government should provide a temporary visa to Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin and his wife and daughter while his claims are assessed. Under no circumstances should they be forced to return to China without their case being heard. Whatever happens to Mr Chen and his family, the Australian public should be fully informed so that justice can be seen to be done.... While Mr Chen's charges are untested, they cannot be too easily dismissed. We must not forget that while China is a friendly trading partner, it remains a harsh authoritarian state that brooks no political dissent.... We support good relations with China. This does not require us to abandon political values such as liberty and human rights.... Australian officialdom's dealing with Mr Chen are baffling and disturbing."
"Finding A Way To Protect Mr Chen"
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald editorialized (6/7): "The veracity of the Chen allegations is almost irrelevant. By making them public, Mr Chen has stuck the Australian government between a rock and a hard place, with little choice but to give him protection.... The foreign minister...says the consequences of Mr Chen being returned to China can be weighed against 'the bona fides of his application for protection'. But what if bona fides, by measure of truth or usefulness, are limp and the weight of Australia-China relations is piled on one scale and the fate of a disaffected diplomat and his family on the other? If Mr Chen's allegations of appalling treatment at the hands of Australian bureaucrats are true, including their prompt reporting of his defection to his consulate masters and attempts to persuade him to reverse his defection, this imbalance in perceptions of self-interest is to blame. What would Australians risk so that an individual's safety is paramount? Negotiations on a free-trade deal, massive gas sales or Olympic-related expertise? Perhaps, but such surrenders are painful.... Mr Chen's best chance is for Australia to finesse him into a special visa, having allowed any storm to blow over."
CHINA: "Why Does The U.S. Exaggerate The 'Chinese Military Threat?'"
Wang Xinjun wondered in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (6/13): "First, the U.S. uses the 'Chinese military threat' in order to create a tense situation in the Asia-Pacific region. Such a situation will destroy the security cooperation system that the Northeast Asian countries are working to construct. The U.S. is afraid that China will replace it as the leading nation in Northeast Asian security affairs. Secondly, portraying China as a military threat will influence the Taiwan Strait situation. Such rhetoric will encourage those supporting Taiwan independence and push the Taiwan authorities to pass the arms purchase bill even sooner. Lastly, the 'Chinese military threat' theory will harm the U.S.-China military relations. The U.S. military seems determined to portray China as its opponent. This U.S. theory will serve to weaken Asian-Pacific peace and stability.”
"Who Has Threatened who?"
Shen Dingli asserted in Shanghai-based official Wen Hui Bao (6/9): "It is the U.S.' special military relations with our country's Taiwan which has hindered China's national unification, and this has posed a threat to China's national security, and forced China to strengthen national defence.... After the 'six-party talks' have gone through a year of silence, the US has gradually lost patience, its expectations towards China are rising further, and at this kind of time, the Pentagon's inaccurate judgement and even attack on China [referring to a report on China's military power] has made the White House and Department of State worried."
"Cold War Thinking Makes Trouble"
Pei Yuanying wrote in official Shanghai Communist Municipal Committee-sponsored Jiefang Ribao (6/9): "To tell the truth, Rumsfeld's 'China threat theory' is not worth refuting.... Certain countries are sending troops overseas to flaunt their strength, are sparing no effort to research and develop missile defence and other advanced military systems, are strengthening military alliances, and even including the territory of other countries as a 'common strategic objective'. Who's posing a threat to world peace and security in the end?!"
"The U.S. Defense Secretary’s Criticism Of China Is Baseless"
Official Communist Youth League-sponsored Elite Reference (Qingnian Cankao) stated (6/8): "Secretary Rumsfeld’s criticism of China is baseless. The U.S. and Japan hope to turn into China a target. Rumsfeld’s words are designed to diplomatically isolate China. The U.S. also intends to make long-term profits for the U.S. defense industry. Creating an enemy is in the best interests of this U.S. industry. Moreover, the U.S. is trying to find reasons for supporting Japan. If China is regarded as the enemy, Japan can disassociate itself from its present constitution. Lastly, the U.S. is seeking ways to further interfere in the Taiwan strait issue."
"Taiwan Authorities Reveal Requirements For Holding Negotiations"
Li Xia and Xia Mu commented in official Communist Youth League-sponsored Elite Reference (Qingnian Cankao) (6/8): "Chen Shuibian revealed that one of the requirements for meeting with Mainland officials is that the negotiations should be held in the U.S.... Chen Shui-bian’s position on cross-strait relations is constantly in flux: when the U.S. warns him, he takes a softer stance and when the U.S. is tough toward the Mainland, he also becomes tough. On June 4, Secretary Rumsfeld criticized China ‘of speedily developing military strength and greatly increasing military expenses'.... Rumsfeld was obviously signaling that the U.S. attitude toward the Mainland was becoming tougher. Toward Taiwan, the U.S. position changes from frequent warnings to secret encouragement. The Mainland is gradually taking the lead on the Taiwan issue. This trend is dangerous for the U.S. Thus, the U.S. has adopted a tougher stance toward the Mainland. The U.S. tactic is making the cross-strait dialogue even more difficult.”
"Maintaining Bilateral Relations With The U.S. Tests China-Russia Relations"
Wang Xianyu commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (6/6): "The nature of China-Russia relations is non-aligned and is not aimed at any third country, including the U.S. But as 'strategic cooperation' partners, China and Russia must maintain a consistent position on certain issues. China and Russia should understand the nature of each country’s relations with the U.S. The two countries should increase communication with the U.S. on international issues. At the same time however, China and Russia should avoid engaging in activities which strengthen relations with the U.S. but destroy the China-Russia strategic partnership.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Why Did The U.S. Exaggerate China's 'Military Threat'?"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (6/8): "Why did Rumsfeld exaggerate China's 'military threat'? There are the following considerations. First, the U.S. must find an excuse for its own continued military presence in Asia. Secondly, the U.S. must create a pretext to interfere in the Taiwan Straits and to sell weapons to Taiwan. Thirdly, the U.S. wants prevent the EU from lifting its ban on weapon sales to China. Fourthly, the U.S. will use the Chinese 'military threat' to lobby Congress for approval of greater military spending to check the modernization of the Chinese military and to ensure U.S. military superiority over China. If an 'arms race' still exists, one of the reasons is that the U.S. has taken the initiative to invest a large amount of money in development of new weapons and in military spending to preserve its own hegemony. To protect themselves, many countries have been forced to increase their military spending to avoid lagging far behind the strongest military power. The U.S. ignores the repercussions of its actions while criticizing other countries for increasing their military spending. In other words, the U.S. is telling the world to do what it says, not what it does."
"U.S. Cannot Fish For Advantages From 'China Threat Theory'"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao opined (6/8): "The U.S.' incessant schemes to fabricate a 'China threat theory' and create a new imaginary enemy for itself are on the one hand to sow discord in China's relations with other countries in the world, especially neighbouring countries in Asia, and intrude on China's diplomatic space, and on the other hand are also a pretext to contain China, to create the conditions for carrying out power politics, and to fabricate a reason for providing weapons to Taiwan, in order to keep earning the Taiwan populace's hard-earned money. But, the US' tricks cannot necessarily prevail."
TAIWAN: "Warnings On China Also Meant For Taiwan"
Bill Chang commented in the pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times (6/11): "Although China's military power has grown rapidly in recent years, the US' 'revolution in military affairs' has not slowed down either. US defense spending has been increasing every year, indicating that the Americans have no intention of falling behind in an arms race. In other words, the gap in military strength between China and the US has not been closed to any significant extent. The alarm raised by the US over China's militarization is not meant for its own people, but for China's neighbors.… What if Taiwan, which shares a common language and ethnicity with China and enjoys great economic and military strength, became China's ally? Since the US is unable to alter or shake the pro-China stance of certain Taiwanese politicians, highlighting Beijing's threat is a direct appeal to the Taiwanese people. To surrender to China and disregard the nation's interests will only deepen US distrust of Taiwan. Such damage could be fatal. The Pentagon's harsh words regarding China's arms buildup are not just a warning to China, but also to Taiwan.”
"Understand Clearly That China Is A Terrorist Country That Aims At Expanding Its Military Buildup”
Pro-independence Liberty Times argued (6/8): "The U.S. views China’s military buildup the same as a terrorist threat. In other words, China’s military threat has been viewed as being in the same category as Al Qaeda...and the lie of ‘peaceful emergence’ that China has been bragging about is inevitably unveiled not to be true by the U.S. It is hard for one to imagine that political figures in the U.S., Japan, and Europe are concerned more about China’s military threat to Taiwan than some Taiwan politicians, who are under...China’s cannons. The essence of the Chinese authorities, to be frank, is that of a terrorist organization, and it is a rogue state. If someone dreams of recognizing ‘the 1992 consensus,’ ‘the One China principle,’ or even wants to pay a pilgrimage visit to China like KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong did, these actions are equal to recognizing Taiwan as a province of China. Once Taiwan loses its sovereignty, does it not mean to hand over Taiwan’s security to terrorists? Can the Taiwan people accept that?”
"Taking Rumsfeld’s Warning To Heart"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times said (6/7): "The ‘China Threat Theory’ is no longer a possibility--the threat is a reality. Taiwan has had to deal with this threat on its own for some time, but now other countries are gradually beginning to get the message. The Singapore meeting is just the starting point for international action, and hopefully we will see even more countries facing up to the threat posed by China’s expansionism with more concrete action. Perhaps this will all lead to new policies designed to contain China. Taiwan is at the center of...the front line constraining China’s expansion. It has shouldered this burden for more than 60 years, but now people in Taiwan and the U.S. are becoming increasingly concerned that it will become a breach in the chain. The hurdles faced by the arms procurement bill in the legislature means that the imbalance in military strength between the two sides of the Strait will increase. The lack of commitment to self-defense might encourage China to take advantage of the situation with a military move.... Unless Taiwan is willing to become China’s docile pet, it should bare its teeth and win some respect. It needs defensive weapons to do this. The military gap between the two sides of the Strait is widening daily, causing the international community to lose its faith in the commitment of the Taiwanese people. Eventually, if this is left unchecked, Taiwan will lose its self-confidence.... For Taiwan’s sake and for regional security, The legislature should hold an additional session to pass the arms procurement bill as soon as possible.”
"Making China An Enemy"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post concluded (6/7): "Not a day goes by without hearing some American...warn against the potential danger China poses to the U.S. via Taiwan.... Senior U.S. officials, including Congressional leaders, have one after another come out recently to caution against the 'China threat' in one way or another. Washington used to criticize Beijing over trade and human rights issues but not directly challenge its military buildup. In its forthcoming annual report on China’s military, the Pentagon is said to depict the Chinese expansion in an ‘overly antagonistic picture’. Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forcefully charged at an international forum in Singapore that Beijing spends too much on its military buildup, risking a military imbalance in the Asia-Pacific region.... Beijing earlier this year announced a 12.6 percent increase in military spending to roughly US$30 billion. Though it is about one 15th of the Pentagon’s budget, Rumsfeld deemed it too much. The U.S. and its ally Japan have also announced for the first time that Taiwan is under their security umbrella and threatened the EU with sanctions if EU lifts a 16-year-old arms embargo on China. Since March, Beijing has bound itself by a domestic law to attack Taiwan if the island tries to break the status quo by declaring independence. Washington’s new hostility toward Beijing has sparked fears of regional division and instability. Rivalry between the world’s sole superpower and the most populous and economically thriving country benefits no one, especially Taiwan.”
"The Smell Of Gunpowder In The Shangri-La Dialogue"
Centrist, pro-status quo China Times stated (6/6): "With regard to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s statement, Taiwan would be the most concerned if the U.S. shifts its policy again: if the focus of the U.S. shifts from the Middle East to Asia Pacific, will hawkish views like those Rumsfeld holds, return again? Should Taiwan revise its current attitude of reconciliation with Beijing to act in accordance with the Bush administration’s policy shift?.... One thing is for sure, however.... The Taiwan issue is definitely a part of the triangular interactions between the U.S., Japan, and China. It is not very clear how the consequent situation might evolve, and time is needed to conduct analysis.”
"An Imbalance Of Military Strength In Asia"
Pro-independence Taiwan Daily argued (6/6): "As to Taiwan, especially the Pan-Blue alliance, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s warning should wake them up from the myth that as long as Taiwan accepts the ‘One China’ principle, cross-Strait peace can be maintained. The Pan-Blue parties and supporters have always believed that as long as Taiwan accepts China’s preconditions, Taiwan’s stability could be maintained. In fact, cross-Strait relations are not merely the relationship between China and Taiwan. China not only threatens Taiwan’s security, but world peace as well; cross-Strait issues [are not composed of] Taiwan being provocative toward China, but definitely that China threatens Taiwan and the world. As long as one understands this critical point, insists on Taiwan’s peace plan, and keeps Taiwan’s national personality can Taiwan obtain stability and peace under [Taiwan’s] global strategic plan.”
JAPAN: "China's Military Expansion: How Can China Say It Is Not A Threat?"
Conservative Sankei stated (6/8): "There is nothing that is posing a threat to China. Then, why does China continues to drastically expand its military capability? US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld...expressed a strong sense of caution toward China's excessive military expansion of recent years.... Moreover, Rumsfeld criticized China's totalitarian political regime by the Communist Party.... It is very rare for Rumsfeld to criticize China's threat that openly. This demonstrated that the administration of George W. Bush, which shifted to the partnership with China in its fight against terrorism after 9/11...has gone back to being on full alert against China. Chinese representatives protested vehemently.... However, unreserved concerns that Rumsfeld expressed are the common concerns of neighboring countries in Asia, including Japan.... But, it is unreasonable for China to say don't feel threatened, considering its missile buildup and establishment of the anti-secession law that provides legal basis for the use of armed force against Taiwan.... Moreover, China is recently intent on strengthening its marine power as well. What is the reason for the buildup of submarines? There is a deep-rooted view that China intends to contain the Japan-US alliance to thwart the US Navy in time of emergencies in Taiwan. It is pointed out that China's marine surveys of recent years in areas surrounding Okinotori Island is the part of it.... In order for China to persuade neighboring countries that it would not pose any military threats to them, there is a need for China to 'demonstrate it by actions,' such as reducing its excessive military spending and removing the missiles targeting Taiwan."
"U.S. Hardening Its Stance Toward China"
Yoshihisa Komori noted in conservative Sankei (6/7): "The U.S. government led by President Bush is hardening its stance toward China in the fields of national security and trade. The USG is showing its most confrontational stance--since the launching of the first Bush administration--toward China because of concerns that the rapid rise in China's military buildup is encroaching on U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. is also strengthening its alliance with Japan, a move that will not only change Sino-U.S. relations but will also complicate Sino-Japanese ties. The U.S. hardening of its stance toward Beijing was illustrated by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's remarks at a defense forum in Singapore on June 4 in which he reportedly said China's rapid military buildup would pose a threat not only to Taiwan and U.S. troops stationed in Asia but to the entire Asian region. Rumsfeld also called for China's democratization, thus showing Washington's confrontational stance toward Beijing."
MALAYSIA: "U.S.-China Relations"
Zin Mahmud remarked in government-influenced Malay-language Berita Harian (6/5) "For China, there are many signals that the U.S. wants to hinder its revival. What is obvious is that the U.S. seems to be surrounding China. In the east, the U.S. is stationed in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. In the west, the US remains in Central Asia. The U.S. has got a lot of issues to annoy China."
"Building Asia-Pacific Security System Will Help To Maintain Peace"
Petaling Jaya-based leading government-influenced Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily maintained (6/5): "Although Beijing leaders repeatedly stress that China does not have hegemonist ambitions, its political influence brought by its formidable military strength is undeniable. Therefore, how countries in the Asia-Pacific region establish an organization to resolve possible sudden military conflicts is indeed urgently needed. In the last few years calls to establish an 'Asia-Pacific security system' should become a policy choice to build lasting peace in the Asia-Pacific region, and we hope that this move can gain the support of all countries in the region."
SINGAPORE: "U.S., China Should Talk"
The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (6/8): "In a startling move, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld last week questioned China's military build-up.... China has not revealed the full extent of its military expansion, he charged.... The nature and extent of that expansion, he went on to assert, posed a risk not only to the US and Taiwan but also to others in the region. Mr. Rumsfeld did not explain why the same set of questions might not be asked of America's own military expansion, now reportedly on the cusp of going stratospheric, literally, with the militarization of space: Since no nation threatens the US, one wonders, why this growing investment in missile defense and space weapons? Is it possible Mr. Rumsfeld believes what is sauce for the goose must be denied the gander? It would not be surprising if he did, for the US is the reigning superpower, while China is a rising one. Never in history has a reigning power looked on benignly as another rose. This does not mean that a clash between the US and China is inevitable. What it does mean is that their relationship must be carefully managed if conflict is to be avoided.... Is the US embarked on a containment of China? Washington may not think so, but Beijing might. There is little purpose debating who might be right, for perceptions in international relations create their own realities. If Washington and Beijing are not careful, they might find their options being constrained by their misperceptions.... The contrasting perceptions though do point to an urgent necessity: The US and China must begin talks on a whole range of issues--political, economic and military...so as to reduce the areas of potential friction. Whether the West likes it or not, China will become a great power. The time to work out an understanding of how China might be accommodated within the existing global system is now, not later, before things get out of hand. Having China join the G-8 grouping of major powers would be a good way to begin."
THAILAND: "Chasing The Dragon"
A commentary in the moderately-conservative English-language Bangkok Post read (6/9): "Rumsfeld rumbled across Singapore like a rusting tank, taking aim at China for not toeing the American line.... Rumsfeld's belligerent comments raised temperatures, and eyebrows, across the region.... While pressing Japan to send its troops overseas might give the overspent Pentagon some short-term slack, it is an insult to the victims of Japan's militarism and an insult to the millions of courageous and principled Japanese who want to maintain Japan's unique peace constitution and non-belligerent political standing. Actively encouraging Japan to re-arm, sell weapons and project its power far beyond its shores is not only bound to rile the easily aroused sentiments of nations such as China and Korea but is guaranteed to create a destabilising arms race in East Asia.... With both wisdom and good manners, Asian diplomats politely ignored the bugle call to demonise and contain China.... The problem faced by Mr Rumsfeld in Southeast Asia is simple; while the US has been busy elsewhere, fighting wars and engaging in other failures of diplomacy, China has been assiduously working the turf through a blend of personal links, clever statecraft, trade and investment to mutual profit.... Being aggressive and out of touch, Rumsfeld makes America look that way, too: a belligerent power mired in an expired paradigm of US triumphalism and supposed moral munificence.... Inadvertently, the hawkish Mr Rumsfeld has contributed to Beijing's peaceful offensive by making the once-esteemed US look like a borderline pariah state.... Thus the dragon's rise in Southeast Asia comes in on the tail of the eagle's self-inflicted decline, due in part to China's undeniable economic vigour at a time when the US is engaged in deficit spending to fund unpopular military actions...but also built on the widely-held perception of US callousness and neglect in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 1997.... You have the ingredients for a role switch in Southeast Asia, unimaginable only a few years ago, with the U.S. playing second fiddle to China."
INDIA: "A New Cold War In East Asia"
The Bangalore-based left-of-center Deccan Herald declared (6/6): "As Japan gears up to amend its pacifist constitution...the changing security paradigm in East Asia has virtually realigned the political dynamics in this region with larger implications for global security. The region seems to be on the boil over many uneasy developments, the most significant being the North Korean nuclear imbroglio and the anti-Japanese rhetoric of China.... Japan’s new National Defense Program Outline (NDPO)...raised eyebrows in the region by its unprecedented and open declaration on China and North Korea being its primary threats. Besides identifying the 'emerging threat from China' and its influence in the region, NDPO voices concern about Beijing’s consistent efforts to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities and modernize its conventional forces. This qualitative shift in Japan’s security policy also seems to be prompted by...the furious Japan-China hostility.... the current tension was provoked by a recent joint statement by Japan and the US urging the maintenance of peace and security in the Taiwan Straits, which both had declared as their common strategic objective. Beijing seems to have been infuriated by Japan’s attempt to intervene in what it considers as its internal affair, including Japanese statements on the Chinese military build-up in the region.... Japan is evidently concerned about China’s...rapid economic and military modernization process.... Although Japan maintained the centrality of the Japan-US security alliance in its new security guideline, Tokyo has of late exhibited the tendency to emerge as a major global power.... Whatever are its actual intentions, the transformations in Japan would have far-reaching ramifications not just for the Asian region, but also for global security."
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