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NYTimes.com Article: Bush Lauds China Leader as &#146;Partner&#146; in Diplomacy
by tganesh
10 December 2003 22:28 UTC
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This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by tganesh@stlawu.edu.

The turning of the hegemonic tide?  New partners in global development?  Will 
these signs multiply or will there be another thirty years war?  Are we perhaps 
already in the midst of the thirty years war and do not know it?  Some of all 
the three?  So many reports, so many questions... Ganesh.


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Bush Lauds China Leader as &#146;Partner&#146; in Diplomacy

December 10, 2003


WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 - President Bush welcomed the Chinese
prime minister, Wen Jiabao, to the White House on Tuesday,
declaring that Washington and Beijing are now "partners in
diplomacy" and bluntly warning Taiwan that he opposed any
attempt to change its relationship with the mainland, even
through a referendum. 

White House officials said Mr. Bush's comments were aimed
at "preserving the peace in the Taiwan Strait." But his
words fueled an argument with his base, leading some
conservatives to call the president's comment "a mistake"
and term it "appeasement of a dictatorship." 

Mr. Bush's warning to Taiwan was motivated by President
Chen Shu-bian's move to hold a referendum to condemn
China's buildup of ballistic missiles aimed at the island -
a move the administration views as an election-year ploy.
Mr. Bush was clearly prepared with an answer to a question
about the referendum, which Taiwan says will proceed. 

"The comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan
indicate that he may be willing to make decisions
unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose,"
Mr. Bush said. 

[Hours later in Taipei, Mr. Chen responded on Wednesday,
and for the second consecutive time said the referendum
would be held, Reuters reported. Calling the referendum
"defensive," he said it was intended to "avoid war and
eliminate the people's fear."] 

On Tuesday night, Mr. Wen addressed several hundred
business executives and China experts and in a rare
departure from his prepared speech, described watching his
family's house burn during the Japanese occupation of

He told his audience how Mr. Bush, knowing Mr. Wen's
interest in Lincoln, took him Tuesday morning to the
Lincoln Bedroom to examine a handwritten copy of the
Gettysburg Address. He later cited Lincoln's effort to hold
the Union together to justify keeping Taiwan from
separating "under the signboard of democracy." 

Mr. Wen's welcome underscored how much China's standing in
Washington has changed. Mr. Bush came to office dismissing
the Clinton administration's talk of China as a "strategic
partner," and characterized China instead as a "strategic

Mr. Wen, a former geologist who rose in the ranks of the
Communist Party, was given treatment that the Bush
administration has so far accorded to no other No. 2
official from abroad. On the South Lawn on Tuesday morning,
he reviewed the troops, observed a Colonial fife-and-drum
performance, and received a 19-gun salute, two shots shy of
those given a head of state. 

Mr. Bush spent much of his first meeting with Mr. Wen
discussing the turmoil over North Korea's nuclear program,
in which China is playing a critical role as mediator and a
conduit of messages. Just hours before the two men met,
North Korea said that in return for the right concessions
it might consider re-freezing its nuclear program, bringing
the situation back to roughly what it was a year ago,
before the North began turning nuclear fuel rods into bomb

Mr. Bush rejected the proposal. "The goal of the United
States is not for a freeze of the nuclear program," he
said. "The goal is to dismantle a nuclear weapons program
in a verifiable and irreversible way." 

Later, a senior administration official involved in the
North Korean talks said Mr. Wen indicated "we have not yet
reached the point" where North Korea is ready for talks
with the United States, Japan, South Korea, China and
Russia. The administration had hoped for talks before the
end of the year. 

The official also acknowledged, for the first time, that
North Korea had used the past year to add to its nuclear
arsenal. Asked if the North had produced additional
plutonium fuel or actual weapons, the official said: "I
would mean both. But I can't be specific because I don't
think we know" the amounts. 

On the most politically potent issue of the visit, China's
surging $120 billion trade surplus with the United States,
Mr. Wen offered conciliatory words and few concrete plans.
He celebrated the huge expansion in trade, but said, "We
have to admit, though, in our economic and trade
relationship problems do exist." 

In a meeting with Mr. Bush's economic team, he suggested
that the solution was more American exports to China rather
than any restriction on Chinese exports to America. 

China's critics in Congress believe that Mr. Wen has
calculated that Mr. Bush is unwilling to make an issue of
trade when he needs Beijing's support on Korea. 

"The Chinese believe they can get away with it," Senator
Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat, said in an
interview. "This administration will trade away economic
help for diplomatic gain." 

Mr. Schumer is a sponsor of an effort to place high tariffs
on Chinese goods until China allows its currency, the yuan,
to appreciate against the dollar, which would make Chinese
goods more expensive here. 

In an effort to allay criticism of Mr. Bush's support for
Beijing, administration officials came to the White House
press room to declare that the United States was not
"abandoning support for Taiwan's democracy or for the
spread of freedom." 

But three conservatives, William Kristol, Robert Kagan and
Gary Schmitt, issued a statement asking "can it really be
President Bush's position that Taiwan is not permitted to
hold any democratic referenda at all?" 



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