Jiang trip aims to distance Beijing from 'evil' comment

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 12:00am

President Jiang Zemin's visit to Libya at the weekend and coming trip to Iran are aimed at showing the United States that Beijing does not have 'axis of evil' or 'rogue nation' in its foreign policy vocabulary.

Meanwhile, former US secretary of state Dr Henry Kissinger arrived in Beijing at the weekend to mark the 30th anniversary of the Shanghai Communique, hailed as the cornerstone of Sino-US relations. He had been invitated by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Under normal circumstances, Mr Jiang's absence during Dr Kissinger's visit, which Beijing said was due to a scheduling conflict, would not be particularly significant.

But in these times, with Washington's recent increasing support for Taiwan, the rapidly deteriorating Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the US plans to attack Iraq, Mr Jiang could have been expected to meet Dr Kissinger because of his unique role in modern China's history.

Most significantly, Mr Jiang is not just visiting some ordinary nations. He just concluded a two-day visit to Libya - a country Washington has labelled a 'rogue nation' and placed on its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Mr Jiang also is due to visit Iran - one of the countries branded by US President George W. Bush as part of the 'axis of evil'.

Analysts believe one reason behind Mr Jiang's visits is to send a clear message to the world that Beijing does not share the world views held by Washington.

'China does not support the 'axis of evil' label of these countries,' said Professor Wang Yizhou, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' institute of world economics and politics in Beijing.

Along with securing access to these two nations' rich oil resources, Beijing hopes that through Mr Jiang's visits China will be seen as a potentially powerful ally, particularly in parts of the Muslim world that do not see eye-to-eye with the US.

Professor Wang said: 'We don't believe you can just separate countries into good and bad.'

Beijing's actions appear to have succeeded, with the Muslim world welcoming China's new world presence. As Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalqam said of Mr Jiang's visit: 'The future will witness great development in relations between the two friendly countries.'