As the new administration of President George W. Bush warned of damage to its ties with Beijing over the spy plane stand-off, another delicate and fledgling Asian relationship was taking a knock. Vietnam officially protested against American involvement in urgently granting asylum to 24 Vietnamese tribespeople after they fled tensions in the Central Highlands to neighbouring Cambodia. Another week and another sign of Mr Bush's early campaign promise for a 'distinct American internationalism' taking shape. Mr Bush has long promised to restore ties with traditional Washington allies and enter more cautious engagement with less friendly states. But an array of Asian, European and Middle Eastern diplomats warn he is still acting like a bull in a china shop at times. Certainly, the State Department was making no apologies following Vietnam's protests and it remains to be seen what impact they will have on the ever-edgy relationship between Washington and Hanoi. Officials made the rare move of openly praising Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in official statements, saying they welcomed his respect of United Nations conventions relating to the resettlement of migrants deemed refugees. They also voiced concerns about reports of unrest in the sensitive Central Highlands, an area worked intensely by American special forces during the Vietnam War. Friendlier states than Vietnam are warning of nagging inconsistencies from the Bush team as it settles in. Some Middle Eastern statesmen want desperately to re-engage Mr Bush in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, while the Europeans seethe about the White House's abandonment of the Kyoto protocol on global warming and his commitment to sweeping missile defences. Closer to home, the South Koreans are still trying quietly to convince the Bush team of the benefits of President Kim Dae-jung's desire for closer ties with Pyongyang. Despite vowing to rebuild ties with old allies, Mr Bush effectively rained on Mr Kim's Sunshine Policy during their meeting at the White House when he expressed little appetite for risking any meaningful engagement with Kim Jong-il. Retired Colonel Dan Smith, of the Centre for Defence Information, a private Washington think-tank, warned that this was a worrying indication of Mr Bush's inexperience. 'The trend is certainly not very favourable at the moment,' Mr Smith said. 'Despite Mr Kim's experiences in actually talking with Pyongyang and his ideas, my impression was that he was simply talked at when he came to Washington rather than being talked with.' Some analysts see glimmers of hope, however, particularly as the spy plane stand-off plays out. Domestic US commentators have praised the Bush team for shrewd work in silencing more extreme Republican critics of China and allowing Secretary of State Colin Powell to take a lead in negotiations. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, prone to private disagreements with the highly cautious Mr Powell, took a back seat in the publicity stakes until the crew were returned to give the impression of unity during crisis. Mr Powell, too, appeared to have made progress over the weekend on the controversial Russian relationship. He said the 'page had been turned' following recent tit-for-tat spy expulsions and insisted a full summit would take place between Mr Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July. Russia's nuclear stockpiles still ensure the concept of 'mutually assured destruction' exists, as outlined in the long-standing Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty - a fragile peace some analysts fear could be shattered by Mr Bush's national missile defence plans.