State media launches attack on US 'dictatorial rhetoric'
Bill Savadove in Shanghai
The China Daily newspaper, the English-language mouthpiece of the Communist Party, has launched an attack on the United States' policy towards Iraq as war appears imminent.
In an editorial published yesterday, the newspaper said the US president treated other countries like his subjects and used 'dictatorial rhetoric' when making his case for war to the international community.
China, a member of the United Nations Security Council, has repeatedly said that the Iraq crisis should be solved through diplomatic negotiation.
The central government joined France and Germany in calling for the period of time for UN weapons inspections to be extended.
The newspaper said: 'We have every reason to ask what the real threat to the world is: weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - still unproved - or US condescension to all member states and disdain for international law.'
Most state media took a milder tone than the China Daily, giving coverage to efforts by new President Hu Jintao, who has little foreign policy experience, to speak with US, Russian and French leaders about the crisis.
Mr Hu was quoted by Xinhua as telling Mr Bush that the central government wanted peace, not war.
But most of the main newspapers gave top billing on their front pages to the closing of the National People's Congress in Beijing.
Some local newspapers are supplementing Xinhua dispatches on the situation in Iraq with on-the-spot reporting from their own correspondents.
Although the Foreign Ministry ordered all Chinese correspondents to leave Iraq earlier this week, many remain in nearby countries.
The Beijing-based Global Times, which specialises in international news, carried articles from its reporters in the US, Kuwait and Jordan.
'Bush says he wants to start war at once,' screamed the headline on its front page, which featured a photo montage of the US president and American soldiers in desert camouflage.
Popular entertainment weekly the Shanghai Times took a lighter approach by recommending recent Hollywood movies about US soldiers in battle, including Three Kings and Courage Under Fire.