Order Code RL31328
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
President Bush’s 2002 State Visits in Asia:
March 11, 2002
Kerry Dumbaugh (coordinator)
Specialists in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
President Bush’s 2002 State Visits in Asia: Implications
In late February 2002, President George W. Bush made his second visit to Asia
in four months, stopping in Japan, South Korea, and the People’s Republic of China.
Although the fight against global terrorism was clearly at the top of the U.S. agenda
in all three countries, the President also addressed other issues of particular concern
in each relationship. In addition, the Administration was careful to portray the visits
as opportunities for dialogue and discussion, without raising expectations that any
dramatic breakthroughs would be achieved through the visits.
In Japan, the President took a low-key approach, deliberately refraining from
putting public pressure on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi about the country’s
ongoing economic problems, which U.S. officials increasingly view as matters of
regional security concern to the United States. Other discussions in Tokyo were
conducted under the broad format of a recently inaugurated Strategic Dialogue, and
focused on further anti-terrorism cooperation, broader security cooperation, policy
toward China, and regional threats to peace and stability, primarily by North Korea.
The President’s South Korea visit was somewhat more troubled, particularly
given the President’s cool reception early in 2001 to President Kim Dae-jung’s
“sunshine policy” of dialogue and accommodation with North Korea. In addition, the
President’s January 2002 description of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil”
seemed to emphasize the divisions between the two capitals. Still, the Administration
concentrated on initiatives to stabilize the relationship, minimize the policy differences
over North Korea, and gain further South Korean support for anti-terror initiatives.
The China visit was more notable for the subtle but decided change in the
atmosphere of U.S.-China relations since the President first took office. Having
begun their relations with a crisis in the South China Sea, both Bush Administration
and Chinese officials now see the potential for Sino-U.S. cooperation against global
terrorism as an opportunity to craft a more productive and less hostile relationship.
Nonetheless, U.S. officials left without having made progress on resolving the
“November 2000 agreement,” in which the PRC made non-proliferation pledges and
promised to put an export control regime in place, and the United States promised to
lift existing restrictions against certain technology exports. The PRC is maintaining
that it is legally obligated to follow through on missile sales agreements that pre-date
the November 2000 agreement – the so-called “grand-fathering” issue – and that it
is still working on an export control regime. U.S. officials interviewed by CRS
claimed they had not expected the issue to be resolved during the Bush visit.
This report will not be updated.
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
South Korea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Non-proliferation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Taiwan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
North Korea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Human rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Anti-terrorism campaign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Implications for U.S. Policy in Asia
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
President Bush’s 2002 State Visits in Asia:
On February 16, 2002, President George W. Bush left on his fifth official
overseas trip since he assumed office in January 2001. Having taken office with
limited experience in foreign policy and overseas travel and an apparent preference
for concentrating on domestic issues, the President has traveled on four previous outof-country trips, including a state visit to Mexico in February 2001; a trip to Canada
in April 2001; a trip to Europe in June 2001; and a trip to attend the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Shanghai, China in October
2001, where he participated in meetings with leaders of the 21 Asia-Pacific member
economies. The President originally planned to make official summit visits to Japan,
South Korea, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) after the APEC meeting, but
these plans were postponed in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11,
2001, and the trip ultimately was re-scheduled for February 2002. The President
spent two days each in Japan, South Korea, and the People’s Republic of China
The President’s state visits have been framed by contrasts. On the one hand, the
President made the visits when he was in a strong position domestically, with
extraordinarily high American approval for his performance in office in the wake of
the terrorist attacks of September 11; conversely, leaders in Japan, South Korea, and
China all have been facing mounting domestic criticism and other difficult challenges.
On the other hand, the President’s international position in the region has appeared
more controversial, with increasing attention being focused on his recent description
of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as an “axis of evil” – a view which he continued to
espouse and defend in Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing.
The President’s trips to Asia have coincided with significant shifts in policy
emphasis. The Administration initially adopted a tougher, less accommodating
approach toward the PRC that de-emphasized Sino-U.S. relations; a greater focus on
Japan and other U.S. regional allies; and a cooler attitude toward South Korea’s
initiatives toward North Korea than had characterized the Clinton Administration. A
collateral effect of these policy changes was the inclination to be more supportive of
Taiwan, including a more robust arms sales policy toward Taiwan, despite the fact
that the PRC considers Taiwan a breakaway province of China.
The September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States, combined with an
ongoing global economic slowdown, have altered the conditions under which the
initial Bush policy calculus toward Asia was made. But while the international
circumstances had changed, some suggested that the Administration had not yet
crafted a new, comprehensive policy framework to meet those circumstances. Many
observers looked to the President’s February 2002 Asia trip for indications as to how
U.S. policy toward Asia would proceed.
During his first stop in Japan, the President and senior Administration officials
accentuated the positive, emphasizing the significant deepening of U.S.-Japan security
cooperation since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and showing support for
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s efforts to address Japan’s serious economic and
financial problems. The President’s performance generally was viewed favorably by
the Japanese media and the visit appeared to give Koizumi a morale boost.
Because of the negative effect on the economies of U.S. friends and allies in East
Asia, Japan’s economic problems increasingly are viewed as matters of security
concern to the Administration. U.S. officials worry that deflationary pressures in
Japan, the possibility of a new banking crisis, and the weak yen could not only
exacerbate the U.S.-Japan trade deficit and exert a drag on the global economy, but
could also affect the international financial system and regional stability in Asia. One
particular concern is that lower effective Japanese export prices caused by the weak
yen might touch off another round of currency depreciation such as occurred in the
1997-98 Asian financial crisis, this time also involving China. For these reasons,
Japan’s economic and financial problems were high on the White House’s list of
The President emphasized the positive in his address to the Japanese Diet
(parliament), calling the U.S.-Japan relationship “one of the great and enduring
alliances of modern times,” and expressing strong confidence in and support for
Koizumi’s program for economic and structural reforms. Despite growing concerns
over Japan’s stumbling economy, President Bush deliberately refrained from offering
specific economic remedies. Koizumi, for his part, was warmly complimentary of
President Bush’s leadership in the global anti-terrorism campaign, and he downplayed
negative reaction to the President’s characterization of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea
as an “axis of evil.”
Officials on both sides appeared pleased at the apparent warm personal
relationship that has developed between President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi.
The visit included an impromptu tour by Bush of Koizumi’s office, where the two
talked baseball, and an evening dinner at a local restaurant where both walked among
tables greeting diners.
The summit meeting took place under the broad format of a recently inaugurated
Strategic Dialogue, focused on security cooperation, economic policy engagement,
discussions of policies towards China, regional threats to peace and stability such as
posed by North Korea’s exports of missiles and other weapons of mass destruction,
and terrorism. Some specific security cooperation issues on the agenda reportedly
included further intelligence and anti-terrorist cooperation, Japan’s possible role in
any next phase of the anti-terrorist campaign, missile defense cooperation, and the
issue of the relocation of the Futenma Marine Air Station, which has generated
demands in Okinawa for a fifteen year limit on U.S. use of the proposed new facility.
The President’s low key approach has been attributed primarily to conclusion of
Administration policymakers that despite disappointment at the pace of reform and
some questions about the Koizumi government’s approaches and priorities, nothing
was to be gained by using “gaiatsu” (foreign pressure) to promote a U.S. solution.
Whatever Koizumi’s limitations, and despite a recent drop in his still high levels of
popularity, the Administration appears to have concluded that he probably is a better
hope for change than any alternatives. Prime Minister Koizumi suggested that in
private, the President may have delivered pointed criticism regarding the need to
tackle the bad loan problem more aggressively, as expressed recently by Treasury
Secretary O’Neill and Glenn Hubbard, Chair of the White House Council of
Economic Advisors.1 In public, however, the President confined his comments on the
Japanese economy to laying out in more general terms the Administration’s judgment
about the appropriate priorities: rapidly cleaning up the bad loan problem through a
mechanism such as the Resolution Trust Administration employed by the United
States to deal with the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s; reversing a deflationary
trend that is causing prices and asset values to fall at a rate of about 4 percent per
year; and implementing broad structural reforms.
Some in the United States, including Members of Congress from affected regions
suffering from economic recession and job losses from imports, may be disappointed
that the President did not reinforce the concerns of some senior U.S. officials that
Japan is trying to export its way to economic recovery by following policies that
weaken the yen against the dollar. This has been a particular concern to the
automobile and steel industries, and their supporters in Congress. As in other areas,
the President and his advisors appear to have calculated that showing support for
Koizumi would better advance U.S. interests than confrontation. Moreover, the
President decided on March 1, 2002, to impose “safeguard” tariffs on steel imports,
including imports from Japan.
For his part, Prime Minister Koizumi also emphasized the positive and softpedaled concerns within his government that the Administration’s hard line towards
North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, would have destabilizing effects in the region. The
current Japanese approach appears to have at least two rationales. First, the Japanese
calculate that there is little chance of influencing the President’s strongly held views
or deflecting the Administration from whatever path it chooses as a follow-up to the
military campaign in Afghanistan. If and when Japan is presented with new requests
for support of U.S. anti-terrorist operations, Tokyo will have to respond as best it can
to balance its interest in protecting the alliance relationship with other interests. In
this respect, a senior Japanese foreign ministry official reportedly commented,
seemingly only partly in jest, that in view of the possibility of U.S. military action
against Iraq, on the one hand, and the possibility of a Japanese financial meltdown, on
the other, the Bush visit might have come “just in time...” for each leader to show
maximum support for the other.2
Reportedly Koizumi told journalists that “President Bush was so candid [in private] that I
was worried he might speak in the same manner publicly.” The Daily Japan Digest, February
U.S. Presidential Visit: Economic Concern Hidden By Security Cooperation; Attack on Iraq
Calculated. Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 20, 2002, p. 2.
Second, while Tokyo also appears to share the South Korean view that the
current U.S. stance is unnecessarily provocative, the Japanese share many of the same
concerns toward North Korea as the United States, and even have their own list of
bilateral issues with Pyongyang. These include the fate of Japanese citizens believed
kidnapped in the 1980s, North Korea’s short-to-medium range Nodong missiles, and
recent penetrations of Japanese waters by North Korean spy boats. The Japanese
sometimes fear that their issues will be overlooked in some future US-North Korean
agreement. For both of these reasons, comment on this issue by Tokyo was more
muted than by officials in Seoul, whose priorities are much more affected by the
hardline U.S. posture. In fact, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, a veteran
LDP politician, said on a TV talk show that “Although there are some differences in
relationships between the United States and North Korea and between Japan and
North Korea, I think [Japan and the United States] basically share the same
perception about North Korea....”3
The Bush Administration viewed the President’s summit meeting with South
Korean (R.O.K.) President Kim Dae-jung as an exercise in stabilization of the U.S.R.O.K. relationship following Bush’s designation of North Korea as one of the “axis
of evil” states. The Administration’s objectives were two-fold: (1) to secure South
Korea’s support of the new U.S. definition of the war against terrorism that now
includes elimination of weapons of mass destruction in North Korea; and (2) to
prevent existing U.S.-R.O.K. differences over policy toward North Korea from
becoming more visible. The Administration appears to have succeeded in realizing
these goals. The two Presidents issued broad statements of common objectives.
They expressed the common goal of eliminating North Korea’s weapons of mass
destruction. President Bush repeated the long-standing Administration statement that
it would negotiate with North Korea “any time, any place.” President Kim urged
North Korea to respond affirmatively to the U.S. offer. President Bush also repeated
another long-standing Administration statement that the Administration supports
President Kim’s “sunshine policy” of dialogue and accommodation with North Korea.
President Kim summed up the general agreements on objectives by stating: “We were
able to reconfirm that there was no difference of opinion between Korea and the
These general statements, however, did not reduce the divisions between
Washington and Seoul. President Bush’s designation of North Korea as part of an
“axis of evil” clarified the Administration’s policy toward North Korea that emerged
after a U.S. policy statement of June 6, 2001, and was described in a number of
Administration statements in November 2001. The policy is aimed at reducing and/or
eliminating basic elements of North Korean military power, including weapons of
mass destruction (WMDs), missiles, and conventional artillery and rocket launchers
positioned on the demilitarized zone (DMZ). The Administration emphasis on WMDs
has mounted since the Central Intelligence Agency gained documentary evidence in
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe: Japan and the U.S. Basically Share the Same Views
on North Korea. Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 18, 2002, p. 2.
Bumiller, Elisabeth. Damage Control. New York Times, February 24,2002. P. NE6.
Afghanistan that al Qaeda seeks WMDs and has planned new attacks on the United
States. This led the Bush Administration to broaden the definition of the war against
terrorism to include states like North Korea that potentially could supply WMDs to
The Administration’s strategy is to employ public accusations and warnings to
pressure North Korea to make policy changes regarding its military assets in line with
U.S. objectives. Since July 2001, the Bush Administration has warned that it will
suspend construction of the two light water nuclear reactors in North Korea (a
provision of the 1994 U.S.-North Korean nuclear Agreed Framework) unless North
Korea soon comes into compliance with its obligations to the International Atomic
Energy Agency to allow full-scope inspections of nuclear facilities. The Bush
Administration also had made a number of statements calling on North Korea to pull
back artillery and rocket launchers from the DMZ. Secretary of State Colin Powell
stated on February 1, 2002, that North Korea should do this as a goodwill gesture.5
Beginning with the November 2001 statements and dramatically in the State of the
Union address and in subsequent pronouncements, the Bush Administration has set
a demand that North Korea stop the export of missiles and weapons of mass
destruction to the Middle East and eliminate these weapons from its arsenal.
President Bush’s repeated declarations that he would not stand by while this threat
mounts constitute an implied warning to North Korea alongside the explicit warning
of shutting down the light water reactors.
The Kim Dae-jung Administration has supported most U.S. goals, but it has
urged the Bush Administration to make greater efforts to secure negotiations with
North Korea on these issues. Between the State of the Union speech and the Bush
visit, South Korean officials expressed misgivings about the new clarity of the Bush
Administration’s policy of public pressure on North Korea for unilateral policy
changes. The Kim Administration’s objectives at the summit reportedly focused on
persuading the Bush Administration to put specific proposals into its general offer to
negotiate “any time, any place;” send a U.S. envoy to North Korea to deliver the U.S.
proposal to negotiate; and persuade the Bush Administration to offer North Korea
compensation for concessions on its missile program.6 However, these objectives
were voiced primarily by R.O.K. working level officials. President Kim did not raise
them with President Bush. Secretary of State Powell stated that President Kim spoke
to President Bush in general terms, emphasizing the need for Korean reunification and
the feeling among Koreans “that they are one people, North and South,” according
to Powell. (Informed sources contacted by CRS have confirmed Secretary Powell’s
description of President Kim’s remarks.)
The Kim Administration achieved little. President Bush did not put any specific
proposals into his offer to negotiate. There was no mention of a willingness by the
Slevin, Peter. Powell Offers Reassurance to South Korea. Washington Post, February 2,
2002. P. A19.
Yonhap News Agency (Seoul) report, February 21, 2002. French, Howard W. Bush Has
Much to Finesse in Trip to Japan and Korea. New York Times, February 16, 2002. P. A4.
Chandler, Clay. Bush’s Remarks Distress S. Korea. Washington Post, February 10, 2002.
Bush Administration to offer North Korea reciprocal measures in return for desired
North Korean policy changes. President Bush only issued a general offer to
“welcome North Korea into the family of nations, and all the benefits, which would
be trade, commerce and exchanges.”7 The Bush Administration reportedly believes
that it does not have to offer reciprocal measures and rejects specifically any
compensation to North Korea for concessions on the missile issue.8 Secretary of
State Colin Powell apparently rejected any immediate effort to arrange a U.S. envoy
visit to North Korea; but he did agree to have the State Department contact North
Korean officials at the United Nations;9 the State Department has maintained periodic
contacts with North Korea’s U.N. mission. President Bush did ask Chinese President
Jiang Zemin to endorse the U.S. offer of negotiations in China’s contacts with North
Korea. Nevertheless, President Bush maintained the policy of public pressure during
his visits to South Korea and Japan. He repeated his warning that the United States
would not allow North Korea to increase the threat of WMDs. He described the
North Korean government as “evil” and “despotic.” He repeated the demand that
North Korea withdraw forces from the DMZ.
There was a favorable South Korean reaction to President Bush’s statement that:
“We have no intention of invading North Korea.”10 However, the Bush
Administration’s decision to issue that statement (the video of President Bush making
the statement shows him choosing his words deliberately) reflected the tensions
between the Bush and Kim administrations. At past U.S.-R.O.K. summits, it was not
considered important for the United States to make such a statement. Moreover, the
use of the word “invading” leaves open other military options that the United States
could adopt toward North Korea.
There appears to have been no agreement between U.S. and South Korean
officials over future specific strategy toward North Korea. There apparently was no
discussion of any joint initiatives that Washington and Seoul could make to North
Korea. The Kim Dae-jung Administration reportedly is emphasizing the possibility of
a resumption of North-South talks, which have been suspended since November 2001
North-South ministerial meetings at which the North Koreans demanded that South
Korea accept several preconditions before substantive talks could take place.
Unlike past Sino-U.S. state visits, President Bush’s February 21-22, 2002
meeting with Jiang Zemin – his second meeting with the PRC leader in four months
– took place without specific agreements having been hammered out behind the
Brooke, James. Tentatively, North Korea Solicits Foreign Investment and Tourism. New
York Times, February 19, 2002. P. C1.
Bush N.K. Strategy Explained...thinks we now have the leverage. The Nelson Report,
February 21, 2002. The Nelson Report is issued by Samuels International Associates, Inc.
Gedda, George. North Korea: U.S. Will Continue to Encourage Talks. Washington Times,
February 23, 2002. P. A7.
Bumiller, Elisabeth. Bush Says the U.S. Plans No Attack on North Korea. New York
Times, February 20, 2002. P. A1.
scenes for the two presidents to sign, as in the so-called “deliverables” approach of
the Clinton Administration.11 Consequently, few observers expected major policy
breakthroughs as a result of the visit – a low level of expectation that was, in fact,
met. Still, the atmosphere in which the visit took place marked a subtle but decided
change in the atmosphere of U.S.-China relations since Bush had assumed office.
Having begun their new relationship amid the tension of a collision between a Chinese
fighter and an American reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea, both the
Bush White House and the regime in Beijing now see the potential for Sino-U.S.
cooperation against global terrorism as an opportunity to craft a more productive and
less hostile relationship. Thus, the symbolic overtures in the visit were significant.
President Bush emphasized that he had arrived on the 30th anniversary of
President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972. He invited President Jiang to visit
the United States in October 2002 – an invitation that Jiang was pleased to accept.
Jiang also indicated that prior to his October visit – perhaps in April 2002 – China’s
heir-apparent to the senior leadership position, the little-traveled Vice-President Hu
Jintao, would accept Vice President Cheney’s invitation, extended earlier, to make his
first visit to the United States (expected in late April 2002). Bush and Jiang also
agreed to expand and deepen the U.S.-China dialogue at all levels; to cooperate more
closely on the global anti-terrorism campaign; and to actively cooperate in key areas
such as health (particularly on HIV-Aids), economics and trade, energy,
environmental protection, and science and technology.
Beijing in particular seemed anxious to capitalize on the new international
environment to improve relations with Washington, keeping its rhetoric prior to the
visit mild and at times even laudatory. One PRC press account referred to Sino-U.S.
relations as “back on the healthy development track and...looking positive,”12 while
another spokesperson referred to the “enormous potential” for Sino-U.S. economic
cooperation.13 Reportedly in response to U.S. pressure, on February 10, 2002, the
PRC released a Hong Kong man sentenced just two weeks earlier to two years in
prison for smuggling bibles into China. Beijing also reacted mildly on other issues
that could have had a negative impact, such as the discovery that a new Boeing jet
bought to use as Jiang’s presidential plane had been installed with sophisticated
surveillance devices, apparently during the aircraft’s outfitting in the United States.
But even so, apart from the anti-terrorism cooperation, several other long-standing
and difficult issues on the table during the two days of discussions remained
Non-Proliferation. Despite U.S. assertions that China’s weapons sales to
unstable Middle East regimes increase the prospects that weapons of mass destruction
could fall into terrorists’ hands, little progress was made on the issue of arms-control
and non-proliferation. As a result, the state visit concluded without further
The first meeting between the two leaders was in mid-October 2001, at the Shanghai
meeting of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
Ruan Zongze, “Sino-U.S. ties back on healthy track,” Chung kuo jih pao (China Daily),
February 11, 2002, p. 4.
BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific – Political, London, February 13, 2002. p. 1.
resolution of the stalemate over the Clinton/Jiang November 2000 non-proliferation
agreement, which has yet to be implemented. In fact, few U.S. observers expected
the state visit to end with consensus on the November 2000 agreement, although the
U.S. National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, said that work on the agreement
was continuing.14 In the November 2000 agreement, the PRC had pledged to halt its
export of missiles and other advanced weapons technologies and to issue
comprehensive export control regulations, while the United States had agreed in
return to waive U.S. sanctions against China for past proliferation activities and
resume processing licenses for U.S. satellites to be exported to China for launch on
PRC launch vehicles. Reportedly, President Bush did leave Beijing with a PRC
pledge that a regime of export control regulations will soon be issued.
Taiwan. PRC officials consistently describe Taiwan as the most important and
most sensitive bilateral issue with the United States. As was expected, no apparent
progress was made on the issue of Taiwan. President Bush reiterated the standard
U.S. “one-China” position, pleasing Beijing, and stated that the U.S. position had
been consistent since the 1979 communique established official relations with the
PRC. According to U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, he also
expressed hope that the recent entry of both China and Taiwan into the World Trade
Organization (WTO) would pave the way for a resumption of cross-Strait dialogue,
which has been suspended. But President Bush also emphasized U.S. expectations
that the Taiwan issue be resolved peacefully and without provocation from either side,
and the President maintained that he supported U.S. obligations under the Taiwan
Relations Act, which provides for the sale of U.S. defense articles and services to
Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have long been opposed by Beijing.15
North Korea. There did appear to be some movement at the Beijing
discussions on the subject of North Korea. According to National Security Advisor
Rice, President Bush repeated to President Jiang the statements he made in Seoul
about the North Korean government – its lack of transparency and the fact that it
starved its own people – but without specifically making public reference to the “axis
of evil.” Bush also reiterated to Jiang his offer in Seoul to hold U.S. meetings with the
North Korean regime. He asked President Jiang to carry that message to North
Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il.
Since the November 2000 agreement, U.S. intelligence reports have alleged that China has
proceeded with missile-technology related sales commitments it had made prior to the
agreement – commitments that PRC officials claim they are obliged legally to keep and want
“grand-fathered” into the agreement – and that the PRC has continued to make new missiletechnology related sales to Pakistan, Iran, and other countries – allegations that PRC officials
have denied. Consequently, the United States has continued to impose new sanctions on PRC
companies found to be making these sales. In September 2001, for instance, the United States
imposed sanctions on the China Metallurgical Equipment Corporation for making missiletechnology sales to Pakistan.
On January 28, 2002, Richard Bush, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT),
the unofficial U.S. representative office in Taiwan, stated in a speech to a Taiwan audience
that the United States will not make concessions on Taiwan in order to win continued PRC
support in the anti-terror campaign.
Human Rights. Human rights issues have been among the most sensitive in
U.S.-China relations, and President Bush made it clear in advance that he would
address the issues of human rights and religious freedom in his public comments.16
In his public comments, the President handled these issues by emphasizing his own
religious beliefs and convictions, but without directly challenging or criticizing his
host, Jiang Zemin. During the press conference the two leaders held after their talks
on February 21, 2002, for instance, the President said, “All the world’s people,
including the people of China, should be free to choose how they live, how they
worship and how they work.” Jiang was put on the spot during the press conference
by reporters, who asked him why the PRC government restricted religious worship
and why it had imprisoned more than 50 Roman Catholic bishops. According to the
translation, Jiang responded, “Whatever religion people believe in, they have to abide
by the law. So some of the law breakers have been detained because of their violation
of law, not because of their religious belief.”17 In addition, President Bush later gave
a televised speech and answered questions at Qinghua University, in Beijing, where
he also addressed American values and human rights.18
According to reports, the President’s private discussions with Chinese leaders
on human rights and religious freedom were more forthright and described as
“extensive.” He emphasized the importance of beginning a dialogue with various
religious leaders, such as the Vatican and the Dalai Lama. In addition, U.S. officials
did not appear to let the impending state visit of February 21 deter them from lodging
a formal protest on February 20 over how the PRC government treated U.S.-based
practitioners of Falun Gong, expelled from China the previous week.19 Moreover,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner, traveling with the President, is said
to have had extensive private meetings with PRC officials on specific detained
individuals that are of interest to the United States, such as Uighur businesswoman
Rebiya Kadeer. 20
Anti-Terrorism Campaign. In his Beijing press conference remarks,
President Bush listed terrorism first on the extensive list of issues he discussed with
President Jiang. He welcomed China’s cooperation in the anti-terror campaign to
date and looked forward to that cooperation continuing. But many observers see
limits as to how far the anti-terrorism campaign can go in serving as a new framework
for U.S.-China relations. The Chinese are uneasy, for instance – particularly after the
President’s “axis of evil” comment – about the possibility that the U.S. anti-terrorism
In a letter to President Bush on February 11, 2002, Senator Max Baucus and Congressman
Doug Bereuter, Chair and Co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on the
People’s Republic of China, urged the President to emphasize the importance of rule of law
and human rights during his meetings with Jiang.
From the February 21, 2002 Bush/Jiang press conference in Beijing. See full text and
video at: [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/20020221-7.html]
Full text at: [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/print/20020222.html]
After being expelled from China, the U.S. Falungong group had met with U.S. State
Department officials claiming that they had been physically abused by Chinese police.
Lorne Craner is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and
effort will expand beyond Afghanistan to Iraq or North Korea. According to the U.S.
National Security Advisor, the President emphasized to Jiang that he viewed Iraq as
a dangerous regime but that he had made no decision to expand the anti-terror
campaign to Iraq, and that “he promised to consult” with the PRC, as a permanent
member of the U.N. Security Council, about future U.S. plans.21
Another problem is the differing view each government holds about what
terrorism is. Beijing commonly makes no distinction between terrorists who perform
violent acts and “separatists” – the Chinese term for advocates of Uighur, Tibetan,
and Taiwan independence from or greater autonomy within China – even when those
attitudes are peacefully expressed. While President Bush has welcomed PRC
expressions of support for the global anti-terrorism campaign (in October 2001, he
called the PRC an important partner in the global coalition against terrorists), in the
past he also has warned Jiang Zemin and the Chinese leadership against using the war
on terrorism as an excuse for ethnic persecution. He made no similar public
comments during his visit to Beijing, but did remark that both the United States and
the PRC had been the victims of terrorist attacks in the past.
Implications for U.S. Policy in Asia
While the President’s brief Asia visits yielded no apparent agreements or policy
shifts, the meetings with leaders and opinion makers allowed a first-hand dialogue on
issues about which both U.S. and Asian leaders may have had some mis-perceptions.
Having begun his term of office with a strong ideological viewpoint for U.S. policy
and values, the President’s policy approach has evolved into what some observers are
dubbing a new “pragmatic realism,” in which ideology, although still figuring
prominently, is tempered by the necessities of dealing with immediate challenges.
Within these parameters, then, the February 2002 Asia visits suggest some
generalizations about the unfolding Bush approach to Asia. First, the Bush
Administration’s emphasis in Asia, at least with respect to the three countries visited,
indicates that a high value will be placed on regular and constructive dialogue
regardless of whether that dialogue can be translated into politically attractive policy
initiatives. Second, the White House appears to be putting a premium on a balanced
approach – one that seeks to even out the bumps in U.S.-China relations while
bolstering ties with traditional U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan. At the
same time, other aspects of the visit – the stress on the “axis of evil” despite South
Korea’s “sunshine” policy, the importance placed on continuing economic reform in
Japan, and the President’s speech on American values at Qinghua University in
Beijing – suggest that Bush Administration policy toward Asia intends to be
substantively true to its core ideological values, even while seeking to improve overall
Although a range of issues was discussed during the trip, at the heart of the
President’s visits was the subject that has preoccupied American policymakers since
September 11 – combating global terrorism, and in particular, seeking to deny global
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in her briefing for reporters in Beijing.
terrorists the opportunity to obtain and use weapons of mass destruction. Some
observers suggest that the Administration’s growing concern and focus on this latter
point ultimately may lead to further changes in U.S. policy, putting increasing
pressure on traditional U.S. alliances and friendships in Asia.