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The BBC's Rob Watson
"Certainly these are tense times between the US and China"
 real 56k

The BBC's Nick Bryant
"It's a startling blunder"
 real 56k

Rear Admiral Craig Quigley
"This was an honest misinterpretation"
 real 28k

China analyst, Jonathan Mirsky
"By Chinese standards it was a pussy cat attack"
 real 28k

Professor Jia Qingguo, Beijing University
"Some people in the US clearly regard China as a sort of enemy"
 real 56k

Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
China blasts Bush policies
Aerial view of US spy plane grounded on Hainan Island
The US spy plane is still being held on Hainan Island
The official media in China has made a powerful personal attack on President Bush, for his handling of relations with Beijing and his decision to push ahead with a missile defence system

The Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, described Mr Bush's policies as being driven by egotism and a desire not to be seen as a weak leader.

His whole-hearted wish is to cast off the shadow of 'the weak president'

People's Daily
The criticisms came just hours after Washington retracted a statement saying it was suspending all military contacts with China.

A Pentagon spokesman, said the original statement on military contacts had been a misinterpretation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's intentions.

'Driven by weakness'

In the scathing attack, the Chinese People's Daily said Mr Bush's decisions on sensitive issues such as missile defence, the selling of arms to Taiwan and the US spy plane row were driven by weakness and a yearning for media attention.

George Bush
The Chinese say Bush might spark off an arms race
It said Mr Bush had felt insecure from the start of his term because he had not won a clear victory in the US presidential election.

The newspaper also attacked Mr Bush's missile defence plan, saying that it made European allies consider him an "egotist" and Russia regard him as a new competitor in an arms race.

"His whole-hearted wish is to cast off the shadow of 'the weak president'," the newspaper said.

Worsening relations

Relations between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated sharply since the collision on 1 April between a US spy plane and a Chinese jet fighter.

We believe that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is the cornerstone for safeguarding global strategic balance and stability

Zhu Bangzao
Chinese Foreign Minister

The situation has just been exacerbated by US arms sales to Taiwan, and Mr Bush's recent pledges to help the island defend itself.

Further damage to bilateral ties is threatened by Mr Bush's call on Tuesday for changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

China warned on Wednesday that this could spark off a new global arms race.

"We believe that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is the cornerstone for safeguarding global strategic balance and stability," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Zhu Bangzao, China's foreign minister, as saying.

First official response

Mr Zhu's statements were China's first official response to Mr Bush's speech, in which he stated that an anti-missile shield was necessary to guard the United States against attack by "rogue states."

The United States has meanwhile revoked a decision to suspend all military ties with China, in a move widely seen as an embarrassing blunder.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral Craig Quigley said the initial order - released to the media only two hours earlier - was a mistake, based on a misinterpretation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's intentions.

Unnoticed error

Admiral Quigley said Mr Rumsfeld had in fact ordered a review of all contacts and activities with the Chinese military on a case-by-case basis, but one of his aides misunderstood him.

The mistake went unnoticed for two days and, despite official assurances, the BBC's Nick Bryant in Washington says that it is still unclear whether the rescinded order was just an administrative error.

The latest confusion comes at a delicate moment in Sino-US relations.

American civil technicians have been allowed to examine the spy plane on Hainan Island - which was forced to land after a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter jet.

But China has not yet given permission for the aircraft to be taken back to the US.

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See also:

03 May 01 | Americas
US 'split' on China policy
03 May 01 | Sci/Tech
US facing Chinese cyber blitz
01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Spy plane recovery team arrive
02 May 01 | Americas
US rejects 'Made in China' berets
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