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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "US, Japan close ranks in bid to restrain China from moving on Taiwan
US, Japan close ranks in bid to restrain China from moving on Taiwan
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 19, 2005

Shared concern about China and its threat to use force against Taiwan are drawing Japan and the United States closer in their determination to maintain peace and stability in East Asia.

While the Bush administration says it supports China's emergence as an economic power in the region and the world, the overriding US message to Beijing is, as State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday: "Play by the rules."
Increasingly, Japan is growing bolder in publicly seconding that view.

During talks Saturday in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono are expected to make strong statements in support of ensuring security in the Taiwan Strait and on the Korean Peninsula.

They also were expected to renew demands that North Korea halt development of nuclear weapons while exploring strategy to persuade Pyongyang to drop its opposition to resuming negotiations with China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Rice and the two Japanese ministers are new to their jobs, so it is an occasion for wide-ranging discussions, said Hatsuhisa Takashima, spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Besides Taiwan, he said in an interview Friday, based on "our long-standing alliance" the two sides were seeking a common strategy to deal with terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the continuing problem of conventional weapons.

Reflecting growing US unease about China's aims, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith said Thursday that "for a country like China, the fundamental choice is whether it wishes to join the group of advanced economies whose relationships are governed by the `rules of the road' of the international state system."

Feith, who helps formulate Pentagon policy, said of all the countries growing in power, China is most likely to have the greatest effect on international relations in the years ahead.

When President George W. Bush travels to Europe next week, he will try, in what probably will be a futile effort, to persuade European Union nations to leave in place a 15-year-old arms embargo against China. It was imposed after the June 1989 Tiananmen incident.

"The president has real concerns about it," his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said in a speech Thursday.

As for China's behavior, Hadley said, "We all have an interest in China continuing to move in the direction of democracy and freedom and being a constructive member of the international community."

The Europeans, he said, share US concerns about human rights in China.

In East Asia, Japan is showing a growing inclination to stand with the United States on Taiwan.

Praising Japan as a steadfast ally, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region was a shared goal, and she looked forward to a joint effort with Japan to restrain China from using force against Taiwan.

Rice said the mutual goal of ensuring stability reflected a "very deep and broad relationship" between Washington and Tokyo.

Until now, Japan mostly has left it to the United States to deal with China's wrath and threats to use force against Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province that eventually must be recovered by the mainland.

Rice, in a joint news conference Friday with visiting Foreign Minister Bernard Bot of the Netherlands, reiterated the long-standing US admonition to China.

"There should be no attempt to change the status quo unilaterally," she said.

The United States' security alliance with Japan has formed the backbone of US foreign policy in Asia. The two allies long have disagreed, however, about how to deal with China's territorial claim over self-ruled Taiwan, which split with Beijing after nationalists fled to the island in 1949 as the communists were winning the civil war.

Washington has indicated it would intervene if China were to try to take Taiwan by force. A cautious Japan traditionally has sought to avoid involvement.

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