International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 22, 2003

October 22, 2003





**  President Bush's "obsession" with security usurped economic issues in Bangkok.


**  "Politically motivated" pressure on China to revalue the yuan was just "posturing."


**  The proposed security agreement for the DPRK could "pave the way" for a "breakthrough."




The 'shadow of Usama bin Laden' hovered over Bangkok--  Commentators judged that President Bush turned the APEC summit into a forum on terrorism.  Critics asserted that Bush "did not give a damn" about economic issues in Bangkok and criticized him for "doing a lot of talking since 9/11, but...very little listening."  However, many European and moderate Asian outlets praised Bush's anti-terror agenda.  Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine questioned those "who would dare" ignore the link between terrorism and the global economy.  A moderate Japanese broadsheet contended that Asia cannot enjoy economic development without peace and stability. 


'If the U.S. does not push for trade liberalization, nobody else will'--  Analysts were "underwhelmed" by the results of the APEC summit.  Hong Kong financial dailies assailed the group as a "toothless talk-shop" that advances economic debate at a "glacial" pace.  Other Asian critics contended that, although "dysfunctional," APEC remains an important venue for regional discussion.  Liberal European and Australian analysts criticized President Bush's "unilateral approach" to global free trade, with Austria's Der Standard warning that Washington's pursuit of bilateral agreements could prove "economically disastrous." 


China's refusal to revalue 'a slap in the face'--  Observers characterized President Bush's pressure on China and Japan to revalue their currencies as an election-minded gesture by a president "in trouble" at home.  European and business-oriented Asian dailies dismissed the currency debate as an issue of "much talk but little action," treating it as a pro-forma effort to "appease American entrepreneurs." Other Asian writers impugned Bush's "dangerous game of tinkering" with foreign exchange rates and derided Washington's "cynical" criticism of China's weak-yuan policy when America depends on China for "high quality, cheaply made goods" and assistance in the war on terror.  By successfully fending off U.S. pressure, observers saw China emerging as the leading power in Asia and a "counterweight" to the U.S. in the region.     


Bush's proposal 'the best possible concession' to the DPRK--  Analysts lauded President Bush's proposed security guarantee for the DPRK as a "pragmatist triumph" that could "define Asia-Pacific security for the next generation."  By addressing North Korea's isolation and insecurity, editorialists portrayed Bush's proposal as giving Kim Jong-il "reason not to escalate the crisis by testing or selling" nuclear weapons.  Other Asian writers hailed Washington's "welcome change" in policy as "the only way forward" in the DPRK nuclear standoff.


EDITOR: Andrew Borda

EDITOR'S NOTE: The analysis is based on 76 reports from 19 countries, October 16-22, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most current date.


BRITAIN:  "Thai Takeaways"


The conservative Times editorialized (10/18):  "What makes APEC particularly interesting now is the presence of Chinese and U.S. leaders in a regional but relatively intimate group of countries....  Beijing does not like to say so publicly, but it shares Washington's concerns about instability in the Middle East and the dangers of Islamic extremism.  The two countries will haggle over the value of the yuan, but temper their anger because Chinese institutions have become significant purchasers of U.S. government bonds and U.S. retailers are dependent on Chinese producers for high-quality, cheaply made goods to stock their shelves....  APEC leaders will agree to call for further negotiations with North Korea, which has a unique ability to destabilise the region, having forsaken economic development for the riskier strategy of nuclear blackmail....  Beijing has belatedly become involved in the issue, but must take the lead in the discussions and in ensuring North Korean compliance, if a deal is eventually struck.  One symbolic role of the meeting is to highlight the dual personality of Russia as a European and Asian nation...Mr. Putin will have to convince his suitors that polygamy is just multilateralism by a different name."


FRANCE:  "Terrorism On The Menu At APEC"


Florence Compain observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/22): “The APEC forum closed on an interesting note: APEC is no longer a forum for economic discussion.  Washington has managed to rally Pacific Rim countries to share its obsession with security issues.… President Bush found the South Asian nations to be an attentive audience, and one traumatized since the Bali explosion.”


"China Upstages the U.S"


Arnaud Dubus argued in left-of-center Liberation (10/22): “The APEC forum is normally an Asian platform for U.S. presidents, a tradition initiated by President Clinton in 1993. But this year China, who took part in the forum for the first time, upset the traditional role playing and acted as a counterweight to the U.S. China’s opposition to calls from the U.S. for a stronger Chinese currency was a slap in the face for President Bush, who has been saying that that the weak Chinese currency is responsible for America’s deficit with China.”


“Bush and His Asian Partners Together Against Al-Qaida”


Florence Compain asserted in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/20): “The shadow of bin Laden hovers over the APEC Summit....  President Bush stayed only a few hours in Bangkok because of terrorist threats in a country where terrorists retain all of their power....  But Thailand has joined the select group of Washington’s ‘out-of NATO major allies’, a group that enjoys privileged relations with Washington in matters of security.”


GERMANY:  "America's Deceptive Moves"


Jochen Buchsteiner noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/22): "At this year's summit in Bangkok, the U.S. seemed to present its superiority in an unprecedented way....  But what remains is the question of the cost of this American marching through.  The reputation, which the United States has gained in the meantime in the region has not improved with Bush's demonstration of power....  Unlike Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir, the majority of Asian leaders hide their skepticism behind the polite demand for a 'multipolar global order.'… But the creeping loss of confidence that the United States is now experiencing could be all the more momentous when it is offset by another country.  China has turned into the leading power in Asia.  Over the past few years, the Beijing leadership has succeeded in presenting itself as a reliable partner.  Its smooth diplomacy seeking accommodation has been perceived in Asia as a beneficial contrast to the United States rushing ahead....  But some time will pass before China will be able to take over America's security policy function in Asia.  Many countries still feel better with a power of order that does not have immediate territorial interests.  The Chinese are currently trying to overtake the United States as economic power.  In Southeast Asia they are quickly catching up.  China's self-confidence found its expression in the relaxed reaction to President Bush's wish to revalue the Yuan.  Even though President Hu is well aware of the fact that the Chinese exchange rate is considered a job killer in the United States, he said that China will examine this demand but that it also has to show consideration for its Asian neighbors."


"Not In The Same Tact"


Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf asserted (10/22): "The United States made its imprint on the APEC summit.  Terrorism and security got the attention which President Bush demanded.  But Bush did not give a damn about the fact that APEC is an economic forum for the reduction of tariffs and the removal of investment barriers.  Many U.S. partners are likely to have thoughtfully left the summit.  They will certainly wonder whether the United States has the right feeling of Asia with a policy that concentrates only on its own interests....  Not all regions in the world feel committed to fighting terrorism to the same degree as the United States does.  In Asia, the majority of people is mainly interested in stabilizing the economic recovery and prosperity. But what they heard from the United States on this issue must disappoint them....  With his simple arithmetic, President Bush is driving the Asian nations even more into China's arms....  While Beijing is trying to get the support of new partners, the United States is threatening  protectionism.   As long as the United States does not recognize the right tact in Asia, the Chinese have an easy job."


"Bush's Deficits"


March Hujer noted in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/22):  "Especially now that President Bush is in Asia where he demands a new currency and trade policy from the main financiers of the [U.S.] deficit and even complains about the disadvantages of free trade, the reports of a record U.S. budget deficit deserve special attention.  What Bush is demanding is basically not unreasonable...but what is worrying is that Bush has again succumbed to the calls of the U.S. industry lobby, that he is uses his exchange rate argument only to protect his textile industry from cheap Chinese imports.  It is not the first time that Bush opposes free trade.  Punitive tariffs of steel and record subsidies for U.S. farmers send clear signals.  But Bush is dependent on free trade.  America's economy has many deficiencies ranging from budget a historically low savings quota which has not yet been detrimental only because America can rely on other countries that have spare money like China with a savings quota of 40 percent.  If it is Bush's intention to close the United States to these countries, he must raise the question who will remain to finance the record deficit.


"Life Lies"


Peter Sturm noted in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/21):  "APEC is an institution that originally deals with economic questions....  It is true that a few of the past meetings dealt with economic matters but the main issues were often determined by relevant events like in Vancouver in 1997 the beginning Asian crisis.  Now in Bangkok, terrorism is the main issue.  Some Asians, among them the usual suspects, do not like this.  We can certainly discuss the style, which the United States is imposing with its agenda on the meeting.  But who would dare claim that the dangers of terrorism would not have an effect on the global economy?  It does not make sense to stick to the life lies of the past. At meetings like the ones in Bangkok, issues should not push aside issues but search for reasonable solutions instead."


"A Great Deficiency Of Understanding"


Arne Perras commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/20):  "The danger of global terrorism will play a central role when President Bush meets the Asian leaders at the APEC summit in Bangkok....  But otherwise, there is not much that unites the Asian neighbors with Bush....  In wide parts of Southeast Asia, skepticism towards the powerful neighbor on the other side of the Pacific has sharply increased....  At issue are the roots of terror, and many countries have doubts about whether the Philippine approach, which Bush praised as exemplary, is the right one.  Not U.S. soldiers, but quiet support of police and intelligence forces are decisive to eliminate radical organizations like Jemaah Islamiya.  In addition, the Americans simply do not want to accept that they made the Asian terror front more dangerous than it was anyway with its own policy in the Middle East and the campaign in Iraq in particular....  The Iraq war was not perceived as a fight against terrorism but as a blow to the Islamic world.  The United States forfeited decisive confidence by hushing up its reason to go to war...and if Bush is now asking the countries for understanding of his Iraq policy, he only makes the situation worse....  The Iraq war has made the U.S. president an extremely unpopular president in the region.  But this is something he is pushing aside by pinning his hopes on gestures that are well-meant, but destroy more than they heal."




Sophie Muehlmann argued in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/20): "President Bush urgently needs good press and for the people at home the brilliant pictures of man who guides the world.  With great gestures, the U.S. president thanked the Asian governments that sided with the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq...but Bush's visit to the region is also a future investment.  For many experts, the Pacific millennium is surfacing.  What can be more desirable for a U.S. president than partners who fight terrorism together with the United States and who feel committed to implementing the dream of growth and capitalism?  In Singapore Australia people live a way of life that resembles the U.S. one.  And even Muslim countries like Indonesia show an even more similar consumer attitude and everyday life than the 'old' Europe....  The governments in Manila, Bangkok, or Jakarta are expecting lucrative deals and military assistance because of their good connections with Washington.  The wishing lists are long--and arms wide open for the U.S. president."


ITALY:  "WTO, A Push Toward Re-launch"


Mario Platero commented in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (10/22): “The 21 members of APEC instructed their ministers to re-launch the Doha talks within the framework of WTO to liberalize world trade.… From a practical point of view, a decision was made to constitute a fund within the Asian Development Bank.… The document also mentions the necessity to eliminate nuclear proliferation, but it doesn’t explicitly mention North Korea.  Also, it does not acknowledge the need to let currencies fluctuate freely on the market.  These two points were particularly important to the U.S.… The feeling gathered among the Americans is that both Tokyo and Beijing will soon acknowledge the request, in one way or another--maybe not as quickly or as aggressively as Washington expects.  The two countries will probably encourage going in the direction wanted by the U.S.  APEC has also recognized that the final objective on the farming issue is to eliminate all forms of subsidies and tariffs on imports and that it will proceed with structural reforms of economies to better transparencies and to attract foreign investments....  The only sour note was the confirmation (reiterated yesterday) of the anti-Semitic positions of the Malaysian leader Mahatir Mohammed.”


“North Korea Chills Bush On Nuclear [Issue]”


Bruno Marolo opined in pro-Democratic Left party daily L’Unitá (10/21): “North Korea responded with a missile to George Bush’s conciliatory signs.  It is only an experiment, but the moment was not only chosen by chance.  It coincides with the inauguration in Bangkok of the APEC Summit....  Officially, North Korea’s nuclear threat was not on the agenda, but it immediately came up as the most urgent problem for Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Hu Jintao and their interlocutors.  The new challenge emerging from Asia jeopardizes the U.S. President’s credibility in the middle of the electoral campaign.  The White House is ready for anything to find a way out.  Yesterday in Bangkok, after a meeting with South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, Bush confirmed his intentions to bury the hatchet with which he threatened the ‘axis of evil’ countries one year ago....  Until now, the White House was against any sort of concession, and had cut off aid agreed upon by North Korea and the Clinton administration.  Now he seems willing to give up the sanctions and to reach an understanding.”


“Bush’s Appeal In Asia: ‘Let’s Combat Evil’”


Ennio Caretto judged in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/21): “Bush converted APEC to anti-terrorism, even though a few of the 21 member countries and Islamic religious leaders protested.  Due to the pressure exerted by Bush, APEC has included in today’s communiqué the commitment ‘to the complete dismantlement, and without delays, the transnational terrorist groups’ and to strengthen the non-proliferation of WMD.  The U.S. President has even won the campaign on Iraq.  He managed to get from some of the leaders' military and financial support--the latter, however, will be administered by World Bank, and not by the Anglo-American coalition....  Bush has gotten an unspecified number of troops and funding from Japan, Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Singapore and others.  He writes to Persian Gulf leaders telling them to do likewise and announces that he will continue to work on the more reluctant European allies."


“Bush Offers Pact To North Korea”


Bruno Marolo commented in pro-democratic left party daily L’Unitá (10/20): “George Bush asks for help from whoever is available.  He is clinging to the life jacket Russia and China threw him to save himself from the crisis with North Korea, which threatens to transform the Asia Pacific Economic summit meeting into an international failure.  He has offered a written guarantee of non-aggression to a country that until a year ago was considered part of the ‘axis of evil,’ so long as it stops producing nuclear weapons.  Russia and China, two powers that George Bush treated with arrogance when he took office in 2001, have thereby confirmed their role as crutches, which the American giant is now holding on to after becoming lame in the Iraqi adventure....  Bush already has too much on his plate for him to have to deal with a crisis with North Korea in the middle of the electoral campaign.  Even yesterday he had to react the best he could to the new threats by Osama Bin Laden, while the Pentagon is forced to make plans for a withdrawal of over half of the U.S. soldiers from Iraq within two years, without knowing how to substitute them.”


“And On The Exchange Rate Bush Gets Another No”


Ennio Caretto noted in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/20): “This is the second defeat in three days for Bush’s policy on the dollar, following the one that Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi inflicted upon him. The President, who is in Bangkok for the APEC summit to convince Tokyo and Beijing to let their currencies fluctuate high and the U.S. one low, received a negative answer.  His proposal was meant to re-launch U.S. exports and to create new jobs at home.  But the Japanese and Chinese leaders objected that it would have rebounded on the Asian economies....  Since it is unable to affect currencies and the impasse at the WTO talks, the U.S. is now aiming to re-launch its export through a series of bilateral trade treaties.  The one with China is evidently far off.  But after the one with Singapore, within the APEC framework, Bush has announced another two in the following weeks with Thailand and Australia, while behind the scenes Zoellick is pressuring other countries. This is a disappointment for APEC.  The summit was expecting Bush to speed things up for a free trade zone....  Instead the President has seemingly opted for a unilateral approach on this issue as well.  This is not positive for anyone, not even for the EU.”


“Bush Asks Asia For Cooperation On Exchange Rates”


Mario Platero noted in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (10/17): “Bush left California yesterday on an Asian mission which will take him to six different countries to discuss security, economy, finance, trade and above all currencies.  Policy regarding exchange rates is the most burdensome and urgent matter: the U.S. will ask Japan and China, in particular, to raise their currency in order to alleviate the trade deficit that is becoming unsustainable for the U.S.” 


RUSSIA:  "Bush Politicizes APEC"


Yevgeniy Verlin stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/22): "Based on the APEC declaration, Washington will have enough room for maneuver if it decides to keep pressuring North Korea.   In the BBC's opinion, the U.S. President managed to get the forum to talk more about what most interests the United States, namely, WMD non-proliferation and terrorism.  The Americans succeeded in that even though a number of countries (including China and Malaysia) wanted the APEC forum to remain strictly economic."


"APEC Moves Away From Economics"


Yekaterina Grigoryeva in Bangkok noted in her report for reformist Izvestiya (10/22): "The joint declaration shows that APEC has moved away from pure economics.  Much of it is on fighting terrorism."


"Economic Cooperation Remains In Focus"


Oleg Shevtsov argued in reformist youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (10/22): "Under fire from anti-globalists, the U.S. President failed to get the flak shifted to poor Myanmar where the opposition is being kept in fear.  The Asian Tigers were not enthusiastic about the idea of politicizing the summit.  Nor was Russia.  The focus was still on economic cooperation."


"George Bush Bows To Kim Jong Il"


Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta ran a comment by Yevgeniy Verlin stating (10/21): "While flatly refusing to sign a non-aggression pact with the DPRK, Washington speaks of some guarantees on paper that might be offered on behalf of all participants in the six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear program.   U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking in Bangkok yesterday, promised to work up ideas 'with our partners' in the days or weeks ahead and submit them to the North Koreans.   The Secretary did not say, though, that the idea was the 'intellectual property' of the Russian Foreign Ministry, which came up with it back in August.   Of course, Bush and his entourage have not been so peaceable and 'restrained' with regard to the DPRK because they love or sympathize with the South, less so the North, Koreans.  The chief reason is that up against North Korea, the United States, due to various circumstances, cannot try what it did in Iraq."


"Bush-Putin Meeting Not To Be"


Yevgeniy Verlin and Maksim Glikin commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/20): "Putin will not meet with Bush in Bangkok though a week ago the Kremlin said that it had planned such a meeting.  Some in the Russian delegation suggest that the reason is Russian participation in the ICO summit in Malaysia where many anti-Semitic statements were made.  The White House reportedly resents the Russians having pretended that nothing wrong happened.  Others believe that Washington did not like Moscow's latest statements on the possibility of pre-emptive strikes and the ability of Russian missiles to overcome any ABM system."


"Playing Games On Thin Ice"


Aleksandr Budberg mused in reformist youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets (10/20): "As Moscow is trying to act the part of a 'truce envoy,' it needs to be very careful and tough not to slide smoothly into the habitual anti-Western ways that are still popular in the world and among the military.  In that sense, the Mahathir-stirred row is useful in reminding Putin of the thin ice he is walking on.  Truce envoys are known to have drawn fire from all sides sometimes."


AUSTRIA: “Pacific Low For World Trade”


Managing chief Eric Frey opined in liberal Der Standard (10/20): “The failure of the most recent WTO summit in Cancun has dealt a serious blow to free trade, and thus to the world economy at large.  But George W. Bush’s Asian mission is no less threatening: At the summit of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization (APEC) the U.S. President will no longer fight for a large Pacific free-trade zone, which was supposed to be created according to somewhat dusty plans by 2010.  Just as many other countries, the U.S. now focuses on bilateral free-trade agreements with individual partners, and is currently wooing Thailand and Australia.  Such agreements may be politically effective, but are usually economically disastrous, as they undermine the principle of non-discrimination.  Every trade privilege for one country automatically means that suppliers from other countries are at a disadvantage....  Bush will most likely return to Washington empty-handed.  But his mission will have serious consequences: It signals a further turning away from the principles of free trade, which Bush has already betrayed with the steel tariffs and the raising of agricultural subsidies.  But if the U.S. does not push for trade liberalization, nobody else will. These are sad times for world trade.”


BELGIUM:  "A Summit For Appearances Sake"


Philippe Paquet judged in independent La Libre Belgique (10/21): “The two stars of the APEC Summit that began in Bangkok yesterday are the Chinese and the American Presidents....  But Messrs. Bush and Hu arrived in Bangkok in quite a different context. The Chinese President is still glorified by last week’s successful space flight and is also boosted by the figures of the Chinese economy for the third quarter, which show an incredible growth of 9 percent and a 36 percent progression of China’s foreign trade. On the contrary, U.S. President George W. Bush is facing an increasingly difficult situation for his troops in Iraq, a U.S. economy that is not really recovering, and a public opinion whose impatience is growing. And if Mr. Hu is theoretically assured of ruling for a long time without opposition, George W. Bush is twelve months away from a ballot that he is not sure to win. This context explains beforehand why the Chinese-American dialogue will not yield much.”


IRELAND: "Bush Asian Agenda"


The center-left Irish Times editorialized (10/21): "President Bush's current 10-day visit to Asia is one of the most prolonged and intense of a serving president to the region since the Vietnam War....  His main objectives have been to track and influence the large-scale economic changes flowing through the region, and to link them to his anti-terrorism agenda....  North Korea is, after all, the major potential source of such weapons; and Asian leaders believe they have to co-operate closely with Mr Bush if they are to encourage him to work with them on containing North Korea and giving it security guarantees.  There is some evidence that Mr Bush has been willing to reciprocate, despite pressure from policy hawks not to do so.  The APEC meeting underlines the importance of getting world trade talks started again....  A more immediate concern for President Bush, going into an election year, has been the exchange rates between the dollar and Asian currencies, especially the Japanese yen and the Chinese renminbi.  There are loud complaints that Asian goods are competing unfairly in the U.S. market, resulting in unprecedented job losses.  Mr Bush wants the yen and the renminbi to float against the dollar, relieving pressure on imports and reducing U.S. reliance on Asian investment to finance its budget deficit.  So far there are few signs the Chinese and Japanese are willing to agree."


SWEDEN:  "Support For Bush"


Conservative Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (10/22):  “APEC gave President George Bush its full support in the fight against global terrorism.  The member countries also rallied behind the new U.S. policy on North Korea, which implies that limited security guarantees should be offered to the Pyongyang dictatorship in exchange for a dismantled nuclear program. This change of course means that important principles are sacrificed in the hope of pragmatist triumphs.  But the fact that North Korea, in conjunction with the APEC Summit, carried out a nuclear missile test indicates that this might not be enough.”




AUSTRALIA:  "China’s New Best Friend: The US"


Graham Barrett, former foreign editor, oberved in the liberal Age (10/21): “George Bush's Asian-Australian odyssey is a sign that a sense of perspective is starting to influence the making of American foreign policy. It acknowledges that Islamist extremism is not the only potent force at work on the shape of this century, and that the evolution of Asia--particularly North-East Asia--will be critical to global growth and security.... The two powers [China and the U.S.] are discovering that they share many concerns and interests, not just in the war on terrorism. If this trend continues, nothing could be better calculated to enhance the region's security and prosperity, and Australia's future. It is a move that will be keenly encouraged by the Howard Government as it welcomes Bush and Chinese leader Hu Jintao to Canberra.”


"Free Trade Could Come At Too High A Price"


Tim Colebatch, economics editor wrote in the liberal Age (10/21): “You remember how, a month ago in Cancun, talks to free up world trade fell over because so many countries were reluctant to open their markets? Yet now, those countries seems to be falling over each other in their eagerness to negotiate free trade agreements that open their markets, at least selectively....  Between them, all these [bilateral] agreements have the potential to reshape the world, and not necessarily for the better. Whereas the World Trade Organization endeavors to set rules that apply equally to all nations, bilateral negotiations are ruled by the law of gravity...we need a free trade agreement with them more than they need one with us. And amid the buzz of this week's visit by President Bush, Prime Minister John Howard and Trade Minister Mark Vaile need to be on their guard.... The bottom line is that if we want the U.S. to let us compete freely in its sugar and dairy markets, we are going to have to pay a high price. And the way the negotiations are moving suggests a number of areas where it is demanding that price…. John Howard could afford to walk away from a U.S. free trade agreement, albeit with loss of face. What he could not afford politically is to sign a deal that surrenders the things Australians want to keep.”


“Security And Trade On The Line At APEC”


The conservative Australian read (10/20): “The key is getting the U.S. firmly focused on the region and its challenges.  This isn't rocket science.  The world has only one superpower left and, luckily, it is a liberal democracy with a strong and justified confidence in its own values.  Wherever U.S. diplomacy, backed by U.S. force, is asserted, terror and tyranny are on the back foot.  At the moment, George W. Bush ventures into APEC with plenty of constructive ideas for the region--especially on security--but without a comprehensive vision for it.  Co-operation between Thailand and the U.S. was the outstanding factor in apprehending Jemaah Islamiah leader Hambali, just as co-operation between Australia and Indonesia was what brought the Bali bombers to justice.  The announcement that the U.S. will make a major contribution to the Indonesian education system, as a counter-influence to the fundamentalist religious schools that preach hate and intolerance, is likewise welcome, and parallels Australian initiatives, on a larger scale."


“George Bush: A Friend Arrives Bearing Gifts”


Phil Scanlan commented in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (10/20):  “The significance of his [President Bush] presence this week will transcend protocol and mutual admiration over military and defense collaboration, and give weight to the concept of economic integration on a large scale....  Australian national interests are to cement the alliance with the U.S., to continue to underwrite the well-being of Australian citizens, and to build on this security foundation by fully engaging our neighbors in the South Pacific and East Asia.  Australia’s important role as stabilizer and integrator in the South Pacific and South-East well respected by the US and our neighbors."


“Don’t Pin This On Australia”


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald observed (10/20):  “There is one very good reason why Australia's interests do not lie in the slavish promotion of American interests in the Asia-Pacific region.  It is the Australia-U.S. alliance.  Australia's importance to the U.S.--and Canberra's corresponding leverage in Washington--is not as a blindly loyal ally, regardless of the clumsy reference by the U.S. President, George Bush, to Australia as "sheriff" in the region.  The United States can, and does, look after itself....  The question for Canberra has never been one of a choice between Asia on the one hand and the United States and its Western allies on the other.  Australia's long-term interests lie in both arenas....  Historically, both sides of Australian politics have supported the Australia-U.S. alliance....  What has changed is the manner in which U.S. power is projected globally.  It is Mr Bush's aggressive style, and Mr Howard's eager approval, which is the source of friction, not the rationale underpinning the alliance. The complexities of Asia's political map mean Australia's regional ties will continue to demand constant and sensitive attention.  Given the robust nature of the Australia-U.S. alliance, it is to Asia that Australia's diplomatic energy should turn.”


“Landmark Visit To A Fearful Shore”


Geoff Kitney observed in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (10/17): “Bush's visit to Canberra will be a landmark in Australian political history.  It is without doubt the most significant U.S. presidential visit to Australia, both in its symbolism and its substance.  It will add significantly to the momentum of Australia's rapidly accelerating interconnection with the U.S., strategically, militarily and economically....  The rhetoric of the U.S. President's address to Parliament is certain to ring with reassurance about the crusade the U.S. is leading to advance freedom and democracy, but the wall of security behind which it will be spoken will show that the quest for freedom has a price.  This jarring contradiction should surely encourage the Australian community to reflect a little more deeply than it has so far on the Bush approach to promoting freedom, and Australia's part in it--now elevated by Bush from deputy sheriff to sheriff in comments which suggest he has little understanding of the regional sensitivities that this will irritate....  It seems entirely possible that pursuit of the goal of freedom for Iraq may come at the price of less freedom for everyone could mean that by backing the U.S. militarily in its invasion of Iraq in the interest of strengthening the alliance and buying a stronger security guarantee from the U.S., Australia may have contributed to feeding the security threat it most fears: a radicalized, unstable Indonesia....  When the U.S. President comes to Australia to thank us for being good friends, loyal allies and strong supporters of its war on terrorism, it's an appropriate time to reflect on that for which he is thanking us.”


“Stop’s The Go When Bush Is In The House”


Laura Tingle opined in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (10/17): “Australians might be ‘partners, friends and allies’ of George Bush, but he doesn’t actually want to meet any of us.  Except John Howard of course....  The specter of Australia’s parliament being told by the U.S. Secret Service how to run its affairs--and that it must in effect close down--is not an attractive one, no matter how often September 11 and October 12 are raised.  And this is exactly what has happened....  Perhaps the strangest thing about these looming visits is the relative passion and attention they are receiving.  George Bush is a politician in trouble at home over misleading people on Iraq, in trouble in the Middle East, and presiding over a seriously troubled economy.  Hu Jintao runs an economy that makes the Americans nervous and which is growing at a rate to dwarf and shape the whole region in which we live.  Yet when engaging in that most Chinese of traditions, kowtowing, we still seem to have our bottoms facing in the wrong direction.” 


“The Man Behind The TV Screen”


Paul Kelly observed in the national conservative Australian (10/16): “The contrast is striking.  Across the desk George W. Bush is the same person--yet this is a different persona from that unconvincing television presence....  When he talks of the terrorists he taps the table; he cuts through; he polarizes opinion.  You can see it and feel it.  Bush's presidency was formed by September 11--this was his defining hour.  It still governs his moods and his policies.  George W. Bush argues compassion but invokes God's wrath against America's enemies.  When he visits, Australians should try to understand the source of his passion and the more complex character that he embodies--but then, they might see him only on television. “


“Standing Up For Mr Bush”


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald asserted (10/16): “To bow or not to bow, that is the question....  To accord Mr Bush due courtesy is to acknowledge respect for his office and through that office, to show Australian regard for the American people.  It does not necessarily mean that Australians are applauding the incumbent, although many would.  It is about saluting the rank, not the individual.  That some Australians, including some MPs, are disgusted at the invasion of Iraq does not justify incivility towards Mr Bush in the very institution intended to reflect this nation's aspirations.  Australia's elected representatives should show Mr Bush the same respect they expect for Australian leaders visiting overseas....  Mr Bush should not be insulted if congressional reflex [of a standing ovation] is not mirrored in his Australian welcome.  But he is entitled to be heard with the dignity and respect owed to his position.”


CHINA: "APEC Mulls Terror-Trade Balance"


Xinhua News Agency noted in the official English-language newspaper China Daily (10/20): “While some less developed economies were anxious about finding that balance (between security and efficiency), foreign ministers reached broad consensus on the need for fresh efforts to put the derailed World Trade Organization market-opening talks back on track.  Although the call was largely rhetorical, the 21-member APEC includes nations that clashed bitterly last month in Cancun, Mexico, caused the collapse of negotiations deemed crucial to completing the so-called Doha round of talks by the end of 2004....  Less developed Asian countries have dragged their feet in implementing the steps because of the costs.  More developed APEC members say failure to fight terror will be a cost in itself....  Bush, who arrived in Bangkok late on Saturday, will use APEC to push for co-operation against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction--with the nuclear program of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea the main regional issue.”


"Cooperation With Hand In Hand To Face The Future”


Gong Zhankui commented in official Communist Party People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (10/16):  "Currently APEC is developing into a critical phase, while it makes slow progress in the aspect of free trade and investment....  Besides, the process of APEC economic and technological cooperation has always been left behind that of free and convenient trade and investment since some key issues, like sourcing fund for cooperation, selecting cooperation projects and establishing cooperation output evaluation system, have not being efficiently settled yet.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):   "APEC Silence Speaks Volumes"


The independent, business-oriented English-language Standard argued (Internet version, 10/22):  "The 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) leader's meeting ended yesterday with a snub for U.S. President George W. Bush and his personal campaign against Asian currency regimes, in particular the pegged rate at which the yuan exchanges with the U.S. dollar.  Showing a calculated disregard for heavy pre-summit lobbying on the topic by Bush in both Tokyo and Beijing as well as a sustained war of words from U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow in recent weeks, the final communique from the Pacific Rim leaders in Bangkok last night was entirely silent on the subject of reforming regional currency and exchange rate markets.  It is tempting to be underwhelmed by what is left in yet another APEC communique after all the careful editing is done; let alone by what is left out. As a toothless talk-shop that advances contentious policy debate at a glacial pace, since all communiques must reflect an orchestrated consensus, its communiques are assured to hide more than they reveal and to lag real debate by the proverbial mile....  How nice it would be to believe the smart rejection of U.S. pressure on this issue might herald widening resistance to the disturbing extra-territorial reach which is now being smuggled into foreign policy by Bush in the name of a global fight against terrorism....  The least that may be said of the U.S.-led campaign against the 'weak-yuan' policy is that the complaint is ironic, coming as it does from a country that is quite cynically pursuing the very same 'crime' it accuses China of, namely engineering a weak currency to help its exporters while it professes to be upholding a strong currency of its own."


"Pact Offers Way Out Of North Korean Impasses"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (10/21):  "Although it is already being spun by President George W. Bush's advisers as not a shift in the existing U.S. negotiating stance, the news that North Korea may be offered a security agreement of some kind is just what is needed to break the current impasse in negotiations on the North's nuclear weapons program.  Whatever it is labeled, the move will at least bring North Korean President Kim Jong-il back to the negotiating table--and give him a reason not to escalate the crisis by testing or even selling nuclear weapons.  The progress is made possible by an acknowledgment by the United States of the profound sense of isolation and insecurity that Mr. Kim and his regime feel, and that addressing these fears is the only way forward....  From what Ms. Rice had to say, details of the plan are still sketchy and the U.S. has yet to sound out the other countries on what form the final document will take."


"Sino-U.S. Dialogue Can Straighten Out The Differences" 


The pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (10/21):  "Judging from the news coming from the Hu-Bush summit, the two leaders have obviously discussed the issue of the renminbi exchange rate.  However, Bush did not take a strong posture toward Hu Jintao....   It is very important that both China and the U.S. stressed that they would straighten out their differences.  It is normal for countries to have differences.  However, measures such as threats and sanctions will not only fail to put an end to differences, on the contrary, they will exacerbate problems and harm existing relations....  The Taiwan issue always pops up because it is the most sensitive and important issue in Sino-U.S. relations....  Apart from warning Taiwan not to create a tense situation in the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. also emphasized that it would follow the one-China policy....  President Bush also made his stance clear to Hu Jintao.  The recent remarks from the U.S. side should be welcomed."


"Bush's Little Trips"


The independent English-language Standard observed (10/20):  "U.S. President George W. Bush will get absolutely nothing from his six day whistle-stop tour of Asia.  As the Washington Post put it last week 'the emptiness of his agenda, beyond terrorism, is sadly representative of his foreign policy two years after the attacks on September 11, 2001.'  His lack of interest in Latin America, Africa and Asia and contempt for much of Europe speaks volumes.  The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq saw the redrawing of U.S. foreign policy.  It saw 40-odd years of diplomacy thrown out of the window for one based on unilateralism.... Now the U.S. is stuck with a staggering bill and a war which is fast shaping up to be another Vietnam.  His tour of Asia, which began in Japan last week and ends in Australia on Wednesday, shows a president and an administration bereft of ideas.  Bush is a president facing re-election next year.  All he is worried about is being re-elected....  Bush's quick trip to Asia will be seen by most Asian leaders as being just that...a quick trip. "


"U.S. Will Not Sit Still And Watch China Become A Strong Power"


Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed (10/20):  "Chinese and U.S. leaders met in Bangkok.  It is surprising that the two leaders said almost nothing about the renminbi exchange rate, over which such a hubbub has been raised.  Obviously, the renminbi debate is one of much talk but little action.  On the surface, the U.S. is overbearing but both sides know that it is just a 'technical issue'.  The renminbi exchange rate will not change the Sino-U.S. political and economic situation....  The U.S. will not sit still and watch the emergence of China as the Asian strong power.  The U.S. is still the biggest trade partner in Asia.  However, China's continuous investment in the region and its flexible foreign policies have strengthened its influence and power....  It is just wishful thinking to imagine that Sino-U.S. relations are in for 'smooth sailing.'"


"President Hu And Bush Have Not Yet Shown Their Hands"


Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (10/20):  "For Bush, the renminbi revaluation is not as important as winning the presidential election next year.  Therefore, the renminbi revaluation, according to Bush's calculations, is not an economic issue but a political reelection issue.  If the renminbi revalues under Bush's pressure, Bush will be able to solicit votes from the small and medium sized companies in the United States.  In the meantime, he may lose votes and donations from big companies that invest in China because the renminbi revaluation will hurt their interests.  China is the major buyer of U.S. bonds.  Thus, if Bush pushes too hard and makes China stop buying or even sell U.S. bonds, it may trigger a decline in the U.S. financial market and Bush may be blamed by the voters....  China and the U.S. have shaken hands, at least for the moment.  Bush promised to stop pressuring China on the renminbi, in return, Hu Jintao also promised Bush that there was a possibility to expand the exchange rate of the renminbi."


"Bush Is Not In A Hurry To Push The Renminbi Revaluation"


Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News stated (10/20):  "Before the Chinese and U.S. leaders held a summit meeting, people's focus was on the revaluation of the renminbi.  The U.S. increased its pressure while China insisted on keeping the renminbi stable.  However, even the U.S. has different views internally on revaluation.  Besides, President Bush needs China's cooperation in countering terrorism.  Thus, the pressure on revaluation is just posturing....  The renminbi revaluation is a two-edged sword for Bush's presidential election.  The U.S. cannot free itself from Afghanistan and Iraq, thus, it needs China to cooperate in restraining North Korean from developing nuclear weapons.  China also needs the cooperation of the U.S. to constrain Taiwan.  Hence, the Bush administration's pressure on the renminbi revaluation is just a measure to push China to open its market and to make other political concessions.  The pressure is limited."  


"Pressure On The Renminbi Revaluation Is Relaxing"


The pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily concluded (10/20):  "Whenever an election is coming up, there are more troubles.  Making China the target has become a must for U.S. presidential elections over the last ten years.  The upcoming presidential election is no exception.  This time the pressure is focused on the renminbi exchange rate.  The U.S. blames the low renminbi exchange rate for the imbalance of Sino-U.S. trade....  Yesterday, President Hu Jintao clearly stated in Thailand that China would keep a reasonable and stable renminbi exchange rate....  He stated that China would be responsible in dealing with the issue of the renminbi exchange rate.  The pressure on China to revalue the renminbi will relax."


JAPAN: "War On Terror And The DPRK Vital To Regional Security"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (10/22): "APEC leaders in Bangkok have pledged to fight terrorism and enhance regional security.  APEC members have strengthened their united front to fight terrorism, as Southeast Asian countries continue to be at high risk of attacks from international terrorist groups, mainly Islamic extremists--a factor APEC members fear will hinder economic development in the region.  Some APEC nations expressed opposition to the forum's focus on accelerating antiterrorism efforts, saying that the primary function of the forum is aimed at promoting economic cooperation.  But the region will not be able to enjoy economic development without peace and stability.  APEC leaders should take every possible measure to eliminate terrorism. It is only natural that Japan, neighbor of North Korea, play a part in the antiterrorism fight and the effort to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."


"APEC Still Remains Useful As Venue For Discussion"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (10/22): "Given APEC leaders' failure to come up with any concrete measures for resuming the new WTO round of trade liberalization talks, we cannot help but say that the APEC forum has become dysfunctional.  U.S. policy toward Asia has also changed greatly.  Unlike the former Clinton administration, which tried to establish a closer cooperative relationship with Asia, the Bush White House is less interested in the region, preferring to place the war on terrorism at the top of its diplomatic objectives.  At the Bangkok forum, President Bush placed emphasis on dismantling international terrorist groups and blocking the spread of WMD.  Some Southeast Asian nations expressed caution for what is called a U.S. bid to transform APEC into a forum for discussing political and national security issues.  Despite this, APEC remains an important venue where leaders from the U.S., Russia, China and Japan can meet and discuss issues of regional and global interest and concern."


"DPRK Must Abandon Its Nuclear Development Program"


The top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (10/21): "Will the U.S. offer to give the DPRK a security assurance lead to a breakthrough in the standoff over the DPRK's nuclear development program? President Bush reportedly told Japanese, South Korean and Chinese leaders during meetings in Bangkok that he is considering giving North Korea a security assurance, possibly in writing, within the framework of the six-way talks.  This offer would be in return for Pyongyang's scrapping of its nuclear program. The President's proposal is the best possible concession that the U.S. could offer North Korea with an eye to restarting the six-way talks. Should the North refuse to agree to the resumption of the six-way talks and continue with its nuclear program, tension will escalate further and the international community will be forced to make a grave decision. In light of this, North Korea must make a wise choice."


"U.S.' Dangerous Currency Game"


An editorial in the liberal Asahi observed (10/20); "With the 2004 presidential race one year away, President Bush has become more attentive to calls at home for a 'cheaper dollar.' In order to get re-elected, the President needs votes from the manufacturing industry in the Mid-West and labor unions concerned about Japanese and Chinese trade offensives.… However close and strong the Bush-Koizumi working relationship may be, Japan's series of massive market interventions will be politically difficult for both nations.  The Bush administration's emerging foreign exchange policy is not only politically motivated but can also be called a dangerous game of tinkering with foreign exchange rates. During his meeting with PM Koizumi in Tokyo on Friday, Mr. Bush reiterated a strong dollar policy, while indirectly criticizing Japan's heavy yen-selling intervention.  The President's remark also indicated that the U.S. does not welcome a sudden drop in the dollar."


"Mr. President, We Want to Welcome You But…"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (10/17): "Originally, we should welcome President Bush's brief visit to Tokyo in a proper and polite manner.  Somehow, we have mixed feelings about Mr. Bush's stopover in Tokyo for talks with Prime Minister Koizumi....  There are serious problems the President should resolve before we welcome his visit from the bottom of our heart.  The problems are Iraq and Middle East peace, just to name two.  We are in support of the U.S.-led war on terrorism, but are not necessarily supportive of the unilateral U.S. start of the war in Iraq that tore up the world community and drew criticism from EU nations....  There is no reason at all to oppose international financial and other contributions to Iraq's reconstruction.  But Prime Minister Koizumi's immediate and positive response to the U.S. call for Japan's 'generous' assistance does not represent national consensus.  Japan's main opposition party Minshuto (DPJ), which also attaches importance to Japan's alliance with the U.S., is also opposed to the dispatch of SDF troops to Iraq at the present stage....  Public opinion is also split over Japan's planned dispatch of SDF troops to the war-torn nation.  With a rise in skepticism in Japan over Washington's justification of the Iraq war, there are voices of concern even within the government over the future direction of the 'Bush-Koizumi alliance.'" 


INDONESIA:  "Anti-Bush Demonstrations And Offer for Dialogue”


Independent Media Indonesia held (10/21): “Frankly speaking, we are also happy that the world community is critical of the U.S.  That is to say, there is still a common perception among the world community about U.S. excessive hegemony.  It is a very good collective solidarity.  However, excessive anti-American sentiment may also backfire.  The rejection by a Muslim leader to meet with Bush does not constitute a mature attitude because meeting and having a dialogue with Bush would certainly bring more good than harm. We share Minister Hassan Wirayuda’s view that the meeting between the Muslim leaders and Bush will be a good chance to convey the position of Indonesian Muslims toward the U.S. although there is no guarantee that the dialogue will change the U.S. drastically.  Nonetheless, isn’t dialogue the tradition of those who put brain over muscle?”


"Three-Hour Drama in Bali"


Business-oriented Bisnis Indonesia commented (10/21): “It is natural for the U.S. to be overly concerned with the security of the president.…  There might have been some assumption in the U.S. that Bush is visiting a terrorist den [especially] because some of the terrorist leaders now detained in several countries come from Indonesia.  Apparently, the security arrangement would be much less tight if the cooperation reached at APEC Summit in Bangkok in fighting terrorism goes well.  In addition, the U.S. must try to change its image as the enemy of Islam; an image that is related, for instance, to its support for Israel versus the Palestinians, who are predominantly Muslims.”


"Controversial, Still Bush Is Leader Of A Big Nation"


Leading independent Kompas (10/20) commented: “As the host we should be able to show that we are a civilized people. Whether we like him or not, Bush is the leader of a big nation who has taken the risk to come to a region which he himself regards as dangerous.  But for the sake of getting [our] views, he is willing to take that risk.”




Leading independent Kompas, in a column by cultural figure and Antara Editor in Chief Mohamad Sobary, commented (10/19): “The leader of the greatest nation, which is purportedly the champion of democracy, should not be ignored.  We should answer truthfully if there are any questions from him [President Bush] about religious fanaticism, fundamentalism, radicalism or terrorism.…  Without prejudice, the discussion with Bush should be welcomed with humbleness and respect.  We must prove that Islam is a religion of nobility and peace, not with words, but with proof of our nobility.  The period of lip service is over as it has not helped.”    


"Aa Gym’s Protest Against Bush"


Islamic oriented Pelita commented (10/18):: “Regardless of the pros and cons, we capture the stance of [preacher] Aa Gym [to decline to meet President Bush] as representing the stance of Indonesian Muslim with regard to U.S. arrogance.  It is a fact that President Bush has often made Muslims, both in Indonesia and other countries, upset…  We think that meeting with President Bush has some positive aspects because the Muslim leaders will be able to convey their criticisms and their view of the true Islam directly.  The question is whether there will be enough time for a two-way dialogue.”


“Questioning Bush’s Conscience” 


Independent Media Indonesia commented (10/17): “In addition to meeting with President Megawati, Bush has also invited four Muslim leaders, Hasyim Muzadi, Syafii Maarif, Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym) and Azyumardi Azra, each will be given five minutes to talk.  The question is what could be done during the five-minute meeting.  Gym has rejected the invitation and chosen to go to Mecca [as a kind of protest for his policy on Afghanistan and Iraq]....  Five minutes is not a long time.  Bush actually only wants lip service.  Therefore, we urge that the three leaders go straight to the point like Gym. Tell Bush that the world will be in danger if the U.S. is led by a person like him, someone who has no conscience.” 


“Bush And Islam”


Muslim intellectual Republika noted (10/17):  “The meeting will certainly be a very important moment to improve mutual respect between the U.S. government and Muslims in Indonesia, particularly because after the WTC there has been tension between the Bush government and Muslims....  We should appreciate Bush’s good will to meet with the Indonesian Muslim leaders.  We also should respect his stance of not visiting the Bali ground zero, for this could again open an ‘old wound’ that is recovering.  Therefore, there is nothing wrong for the four leaders to use the meeting to explain the true aspirations and stance of Indonesian Muslims.  The four leaders represent the aspirations of Indonesian Muslims. Whatever the reason behind Bush’s [invitation], it is appropriate for us to expect that there will be a fresh understanding between the U.S. government and Muslims in Indonesia for the sake of a more just and friendly relations between the two sides.  And this can only happen if there is no ‘hidden agenda’ by Bush to look for new ‘methods’ to discredit Islam.”




Rosalinda Orosa wrote in the privately-owned, English-language Philippine Star (10/22):  "Even on television, Dubya projected a definite presence, the quiet charm of a Texan country boy. He could have taught those of our politicians, who strut around with bloated egos, a thing or two because he was simple and direct in manner, betraying neither bluster nor arrogance....  His speech at the Batasan was that of a master psychologist, flattering and complimenting his listeners to high heavens, although many of his historical 'facts' were far from accurate....  Everything went with clockwork precision; indeed, the rest of the proceedings in the Palace--including the dinner--were as closely organized as a Central Station daily schedule....  The general impression is that the visit of Dubya and Laura was a huge success; no untoward incident occurred; no terrorist reared his frightening head.  The visitors took even the rallyists in stride.  In this regard, it is the country's hope that Dubya will eventually realize the validity of the demonstrators' protest....  There are other gross inequities in the 'maturing friendship' between the two countries but Dubya is not entirely to blame for them.  Apropos, Rizal observed, 'There are no tyrants where there are no slaves.' Our leaders should always bear that truism in mind."


"Trivializing The Bush Visit"


Amando Doronila commented in influential Philippine Daily Inquirer (Internet version, 10/22):  "When Bush singled out President Macapagal-Arroyo's support, his words were an expression of gratitude. 'We are honored to visit America's oldest ally in Asia, and one of America's most valued friends in the world.' These were the words of an American president who, while winning militarily the war in Iraq, sounded very much like a man needing friends in Asia and Europe, and in deep political trouble at home over the mounting costs of the occupation and economic rehabilitation of Iraq as that country is being steered to democracy....   Visits of American presidents and the warm receptions received by Filipino presidents visiting Washington have traditionally left a fallout of glow on the public opinion standing of Filipino presidents among their own people.  But this fallout is only short-lived.  Without doubt, Bush's visit will leave a patina of glow on President Macapagal-Arroyo, but she and her overenthusiastic spin doctors are deluding themselves if they believe U.S. approval or vote of confidence is decisive in determining the outcome of the 2004 elections....   American aid since the end of World War II has been lavished on us, but we did not use the aid to fuel economic growth and development.  We squandered it through corruption.  Aid did not make us dependent on the United States.  How we used and squandered these assets led us to a dependency relation with the United States.  The new infusion of U.S. aid following Philippine support for Bush's war on terror should by all means be welcomed as another opportunity not only to strengthen our armed forces but also to boost economic recovery and development which can undercut the roots of law and order conflicts.  If we are strong economically, we can tell the United States to go to hell if it intervenes in our political life and sovereignty.  Weak nations can't say 'No.'"


"But Will Bush Deliver?”


The independent Manila Times said  (10/20):  “When George W. Bush spoke, his words rang with a resoluteness that seemed cast in stone.... He promised to help the country bring Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels ‘to justice’ and to work with Southeast Asian nations to destroy the Jemaah Islamiah....  Mr. Bush pledged to update the U.S. “defense cooperation” with the Philippines....  But to top it all, Mr. Bush called the U.S.-Philippine military alliance ‘a rock of stability in the Pacific.’  Coming from the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, these pronouncements come across as genuine and sincere. And they are exactly what many Filipinos want to hear...  .Mr. Bush’s state visit may be a little more than just a layover, but its symbolism is what will remain long after the event has receded in the national memory. Doubts will be raised about the U.S. capability to deliver on its promises.  Washington has disappointed Manila not a few times before and there are no iron-clad guarantees it will come up with the goods this time.  We can only hope that George W. Bush would back up his words with action.”




The anti-administration Malaya (10/20) said:  “U.S. President George W. Bush has come and gone. The praises for the host were fulsome. We are the U.S.' most trusted ally in the war against terror in this corner of the world. We are Asia's first democracy and continue to serve as a beacon to those who remain shackled by tyranny.  We in turn wildly applauded the pat on our back. We basked in the attention and concern showered by the leader of the world's most powerful nation, a regular mutual admiration society.  Never mind that no specific promises were made save for that planned assistance to Muslim Mindanao when peace is finally in place....  But no matter. A promise is better than nothing at all.   As symbolic visits go, Bush's would be hard to top. It's the spectacle that counts. Those members of Congress who felt let down when Bush failed to announce no less than a Marshall Plan for the islands were victims of their own unrealistic expectations....  The fact sheet released by the White House during Gloria's visit provided no timetable. It was understood U.S. laws and regulations on the transfer of these equipment have to be followed.It was Arroyo and her spin masters who boasted about the coming goodies. Remember how the Palace initially came out with an estimate of $800 million in benefits to be derived from the visit? In the transmission from the Arroyo party in Washington to Malacañang, the figure swelled to $1.2 billion. When Arroyo arrived, the figure had magically ballooned to around $3 billion.Where are those promised billions? We don't know. And the White House probably does not know either because the figures were apparently plucked by Malacañang from thin air.”


"High Gear"


The liberal Today noted (10/20):  “Indeed, besides the ritual homage to Bataan and Corregidor, the shared sacrifice of the war, and Manuel Quezon in George W. Bush’s address to our Congress, nothing concrete was delivered.  The truth is the Bush visit was less about the past and more about the present and the future--as it has always been when it comes to American policy toward the Philippines. But now that Bush has come and gone, and the administration has gotten what it desired the most--the chance to bask in the glow of the media coverage of a U.S. presidential visit--the country returns to the campaign at hand....  Diosdado Macapagal, for one, maintained to the end of his days that had Lyndon Johnson pushed through with a visit scheduled before the 1965 campaign, he would have won reelection.  His daughter has done one better and gotten her U.S. presidential visit and pulled it off neatly with the most elegant touch.  What was bruited about before the visit, that the opposition in its many guises would do all it could to disrupt or embarrass the government right up to the Bush visit, did not come to pass.  Had it, the opposition would have been peeled alive by the populace. With that, an opportunity that neither administration nor opposition thought about was passed up, yet again. The last benefit our veterans may yet receive is death.”


"The Bush Visit"


Teodoro Benigno wrote in the independent English-language Philippine Star (10/16):  "Make no mistake about it. The U.S. wants the Philippines to remain secure as an ally under America's new strategic doctrine of "preemptive war."  And, corollarily, the U.S.--without saying so--wants Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [GMA] to remain in power beyond 2004.  So watch it.  Watch George W. Bush closely.  Every word, every utterance, every gesture will subliminally communicate this desire....  Whatever the U.S. wants, the U.S. gets, even if this means the coronation of GMA as Queen Nefertiti of America's strategic operations in this part of the world....  Whatever it is, the U.S. president's Philippine eight-hour sojourn, before he attends the APEC summit in Thailand, will telescope America's unfolding strategy in a post-Iraq invasion period, where the world's only superpower faces an Asian continent seething with change.  It is this change, the Islamic world closing ideological ranks against America, gorgon heads of terror lurking in Islamic East and Southeast Asia, a China-led Asian continent bidding fair to emerge as the 21st century's superpower, that faces Mr. Bush in his much ballyhooed first foray to Asia."


SINGAPORE: "Bush Consultations Have Been Most Fruitful On North Korea"


The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (10/21): "Without a doubt, U.S. President George W. Bush's consultations with Asian leaders at the APEC summit in Bangkok and on his earlier visit to Japan have been the most fruitful on the issue of North Korea.  More so than America's eagerness to have counter-terrorism dominate the APECagenda, more so than Asia-Pacific trading nations' anxiety that APEC be not distracted from its economic mission, there can be no argument that the outcome of the Pyongyang nuclear challenge will define Asia-Pacific security for the next generation.  Mr. Bush made two declarations in Bangkok...that have brought much needed clarity to the issue.  This is a welcome change from the confusing, sometimes muddled, position statements coming out of Washington the past year....  The appropriate setting is important in the exercise of substantive diplomacy.  Pending his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he has secured all but complete agreement from the contracting parties on security guarantees.  This is crucial in showing North Korea it cannot ignore the unanimity that binds its neighbors and the U.S. to a common cause....  Security guarantees may be little different from a treaty, for all the practical effects.  Officials traveling with the Bush party gave what appears to be a flexible timetable for compliance....  North Korea should ponder its response. This deal is do-able. Depending on the final language, this could be as good as it can get."


SOUTH KOREA: "Time for ROK-U.S. Alliance to Get Off to A New Start"


The conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (10/21): “The recent ROK-U.S. summit, which took place in an amicable atmosphere apparently created by the ROK’s decision to send additional troops to Iraq, must serve as an opportunity for the two countries to shake off their misunderstandings and dissatisfaction thus far.…  In particular, President Roh should convince his support base, which is leading anti-Americanism and protests against sending Korean troops to Iraq in the ROK, of the reason why we need the U.S. Washington, for its part, needs to show a more prudent and far-sighted attitude in making comments and taking actions, so as to strengthen the friendly relations between the two countries.  We should no longer allow problems with the ROK-U.S. alliance to stand in the way of the future of our country and of managing state affairs.”


"ROK and U.S. Leaders Reconfirm Bilateral Alliance"


The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (10/21): “The ROK-U.S. summit carries especially great significance in that President Bush paved the way for a possible breakthrough in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, by officially mentioning security guarantee measures, which are expected to ease Pyongyang’s security concerns, the core of the controversy [in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue.]  In addition, it can be seen as a positive development that Mr. Bush commented that he would give careful consideration to USFK realignment....  The ROK’s decision to send troops to Iraq might have contributed to turning the situation around to the positive side.…  The essence of the alliance is to help each other when in need.  The two countries, therefore, must apply this positive change to resolving the North Korean nuclear problem.”


THAILAND:  "APEC Ultimate Goal-Every Group Must Receive Benefits"


The lead editorial in elite, Thai language Matichon averred (10/21): “The most important thing is we must not forget that the economic and social gaps among APEC members are so wide, particularly in terms of incomes and quality of life....   Thus, we would like to see economic powers such as the U.S., Japan and China listen to what members with less economic potential have to say and relax their intensive trade or business negotiations.  They should bear in mind that these countries still lack major elements that would help restore their strong and sustained economy.”


“Another Crunch Time For APEC”


The independent, English-language Nation noted (10/20):  “Ultimately, the APEC ministers succeeded in coming out with a rather practical statement on how to get the multilateral trade negotiations going again.  They called for the 146 members of the WTO to go back to the September 13, 2003, text of the chairman of the Cancun conference....  So it is certain that the leaders of APEC will take up the Doha Development Agenda and explore other areas for closer economic integration when they meet today and tomorrow.  Yet there will be a twist to history.  Following the September 11 attacks in the U.S., security has become a prominent item on the global agenda.  That wind of change is blowing this way.  Colin Powell, the U.S. secretary of state, has signaled that the U.S. would be pushing for security to become another pillar of APEC, which thus far has been based on cooperation and trade liberalization and facilitation.  He has made it clear that trade and security are inseparable.  And Bush is likely to make a major announcement on a security package at the summit.  Thailand, the host country, would like to play a key role in regional and global economic development.  Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is looking forward most of all to displaying his regional leadership.  He has made remarks about the need for ASEAN to embrace a common market faster.  He has championed the creation of the Asia Bond.  He has the opportunity to make his mark at this summit.  And the world is watching closely.”


“Seeking Success At APEC Summit”


The top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post held (10/20):  "The end goal is open trade and fiscal cooperation.  Bilateral free trade agreements are only a start.  The summit should set realistic goals to end all trade barriers in the Asia-Pacific region.  In the same way, disputes over currency rates exist between various nations.  The APEC leaders can, and must, address exchange rates on a regional and world basis, and tell their citizens this week what they have concluded.”


“APEC 2003 Distorted; Terrorism Takes Precedence Over Trade”


Sensationalist, Thai-language Thai Post judged (10/20), “The joint statement delivered by the APEC Trade Ministers proposing that the APEC Summit, October 20-21, discuss two major issues-anti-terrorism cooperation and free trade-clearly reflects that APEC is undoubtedly being regulated by superpowers such as the U.S....  The Thaksin administration, albeit it being only one voice of the 21 APEC members...should make it position clear and call upon other APEC leaders to ponder whether it’s appropriate to allow the U.S. to seize the APEC forum as a tool for its hegemonic desires.”


“Non-NATO Ally…Boon Or Bust?”


Sensationalist, business-oriented Thai-language Phujatkarn averred (10/20), “The three special rights or the so-called privileges (granted to Thailand under the Non-NATO Ally status) are so attractive and convincing...but the fact is, we will be forced to buy monopolized products or weaponry at exorbitant prices....  And in times of crisis, we will have to see if we will get assistance.  Thais probably have not forgotten what happened after the Vietnam War when the U.S. disdainfully walked away from Asia while the Vietnamese mighty army was closing in at the Thai border....  Therefore, the Thai government and the public should think carefully whether the Non-NATO Ally status which President George Bush is granting to Thailand is really a boon or bust.” 


“Thai-U.S. Ties Reach A New Benchmark”


The independent, English-language Nation read (10/19):  “The friendship between the two nations (the U.S. and Thailand) has undergone a major transformation from a patron-client relationship to an equal partnership....  Up until the mid-1990’s, Thailand remained a recipient of U.S. economic and military assistance.  Now, with communism defeated by capitalism, Thai-U.S relations have risen to a new plateau....  During his visit, Bush is expected to announce that Thailand is to be granted ‘major non-NATO ally’ status.  Thailand should have been accorded that status long ago.  After all, other traditional U.S. allies in Asia-Pacific such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines already enjoy this status.  Global developments since September 11, 2001 have had positive effects on Thai-U.S. relations, because they have afforded strengths and weaknesses in their relations.  Now they are investing in capacity-building to deal with such global issues as HIV/Aids, human trafficking and illegal drugs.  What we are going to witness in the next three days--at the royal dinner, on the front lawn of the Royal Thai Army Headquarters or at the APEC leaders roundtable--will represent a new benchmark for the Thai-U.S. friendship.”


“Forum In Search Of A New Role”


Thitinan Pongsudhirak commented in the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post (10/18):  “A growing number of East Asians would rather see the U.S. do more to make the necessary economic adjustments at home than demand that China and the rest of Asia continue to prop up Americans’ prolonged consumption boom and savings investment gap.  Finally, as with security cooperation, APEC was not set out explicitly to promote human rights and democracy.  However, President Bush is unlikely to leave Bangkok without alluding to the intractable situation in Burma.  This is one facet of the APEC meetings in which the U.S. commands moral authority.  Yet it remains to be seen how much more President Bush can do to apply pressure on Burma, since the concrete instruments at his disposal seem to have run out with the U.S. recent trade embargo on Rangoon.  If he criticizes Burma, President Bush would run the risk of being accused as hypocritical for the U.S.’extrajudicial and extraterritorial methods in its war on terror.  Security cooperation is important, but it should not wholly dictate APEC’s outcomes.  Human rights and democracy also should be kept alive on the APEC agenda, especially vis-à-vis the odious junta in Rangoon.”


“Bush’s Hidden Agenda”


Elite, business-oriented Krungthep Turakij read (10/16), “In the eyes of the world community, the significance of this APEC round seems to suddenly increase when the U.S. who has attached terrorism interest to its economic policy wants to play a greater role as the ‘anti-terrorism leader’....  Nevertheless, we believe the U.S. President will not only include security issues in his bilateral trade negotiations--something which the U.S. has successfully done in the wake of the September 11 attacks--but he will also use exchange rates as a bargaining chip with other leaders at APEC....  The two Asian giants, Japan and China, will not be the only ones to be pressured by the U.S. on the exchange rate issue.  Other Asian nations may also be affected because President Bush will likely request that a flexible exchange rate regime be included in a joint communique to be delivered after the APEC leaders’ summit-similar to what he successfully did at the G-7 Summit....  The approaching presidential election forces President Bush to appease American entrepreneurs who are significant financial supporters for U.S. political parties.” 


"Thailand's Position On The U.S. Needs To Be Reviewed"


Conservative Siam Rath asserted (10/16):  "Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat's inordinate appeasement of the United States has obviously drawn a lot of flak.  He seems to fear hurting the feelings of this superpower Big Brother.   Although trade benefits from the United States are the driving force, the Prime Minister does not need to go overboard to ostentatiously show his fawning gestures....  The closer we tie ourselves to United States, with its myriad problems including its problematic domestic economy, the legitimacy of its invasion of Iraq, etc., the more we risk becoming a terrorist target and a target of invasion by transnational funds.  Taking into account the U.S. leadership's desire to expand their economic and military imperialistic influences over all world regions, citing as a pretext the need to crack down on terrorism and promote free trade, it would be suicidal for the Thai government to respond positively.  Therefore, rather than leading our nation to confront untold possible adverse consequences, it is still not too late for the Thaksin administration to readjust its position prior to the beginning of the APEC Leaders' Summit."




INDIA:  "Talking Trade And Terrorism"


The pro-economic-reforms Financial Express wrote (10/20):  “Among all the countries that are relevant to the security and development of the Asia-Pacific region, only India will be absent in Bangkok today when leaders from the region gather for a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to discuss terrorism and trade.  It should not remain this way for too long.  India should seek and be offered APEC membership.... India’s absence at APEC’s Bangkok meeting will be all the more glaring this year given the fact that the meeting hopes to focus on trade and terrorism....  President Bush will also be visiting key APEC capitals this week spending the longest period outside the U.S. in his presidency.  Bush has emphasized that he will talk about terrorism and trade and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction during this visit....  A feeling has gained ground around the world, and more so within the U.S. itself, that President Bush has been doing a lot of talking since 9/11, but has been doing very little listening.  His impatience in the war against terrorism is entirely understandable and Indians understand, being themselves victims of externally inspired terrorism. However, the time has come for the U.S. to listen to other opinions and, in particular, to opinions voiced in other democracies. By doing so, Bush will strengthen himself and the democratic coalition against terrorism....  Bush’s trade negotiators have been shouting themselves hoarse about the 'collapse of Cancun' and are looking far and wide for suspects, unwilling to concede that the US also has played a dubious role.  Rather than pick up the pieces and try to move forward, as India and many others have since urged, the U.S. is busy lecturing and hectoring the developing world....  Given all these facts, it appears that Bush’s visit to Asia would have been more helpful in securing a meaningful appreciation of how to deal with the challenge of terrorism, proliferation and protectionism if he had spared the time to cross the Bay of Bengal from Bangkok and added India to his itinerary."



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