George W. Bush's State of the Union address was spared direct criticism from China yesterday, but the US president was savaged by the official media, which said he was forcing a war on his own people and Iraq. In his speech, Mr Bush made a case for military action against Iraq and vowed to deliver new evidence to the United Nations that Saddam Hussein was concealing deadly weapons and had links to terrorist groups. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan reacted by saying that the Iraqi crisis was at a critical juncture now that the UN weapons inspectors had submitted their reports. He agreed with their assessments that more time was needed for in-depth investigation and urged Iraq to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions. Carefully avoiding any hint of criticism of Mr Bush, ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said that the countries should respect each other and dialogue was conducive to international peace and stability. Meanwhile, in contrast to the moderate response from China's government officials, the mainland media was blunt in its criticism. The China Daily called the case Mr Bush made against Mr Hussein 'shaky' and his allegations against the Iraqi regime 'unsubstantiated'. It said the US leader offered no compelling new evidence that Iraq posed an immediate threat to the US. The commentary went on to say that Mr Bush resorted to his imagination to create a sense of urgency, linking the Iraqi president to the September 11 attacks. It charged Mr Bush with warmongering, saying that conflict with Iraq could not be justified.