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China sends condolences to U.S.

U.S. embassy Beijing
The U.S. flag at half mast in Beijing  

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam
Senior China Analyst

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Beijing's international affairs experts say American "unilateralism" might have contributed to tension with terrorist groups that were suspected of masterminding the attacks against the U.S.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Tuesday sent a message of condolence to counterpart George W. Bush.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that it was the Chinese government's long-standing policy to "condemn and oppose all types of terrorist acts of violence."

Diplomatic sources in Beijing said soon after the terrorist acts were reported in the Chinese capital, Communist party Politburo leaders met to discuss the emergency.

The sources said the leadership decided on three principles: Beijing would condemn the terrorist acts; it would express sympathy with the victims in the U.S.; but it would not get involved in America’s disputes with terrorist groupings or anti-U.S. elements in the Middle East.

Tsinghua University foreign affairs expert Yan Xuetong pointed out no form of terrorist action could be condoned.

Middle East

Regarding reports that groupings tied to the Middle East were suspected of perpetrating the terror, Professor Yan told the official CCTV that America's relations with these groups had worsened because of lack of political dialogue.

He added Washington's tension with these groups might have been raised partly because of "unilateralism" in U.S. foreign policy.

Professor Yan said while it was likely that Washington would stage vigorous counter-attacks against these groups, it was doubtful whether acts of revenge would achieve the purpose of lessening terrorist acts.

Noted political commentator and foreign affairs expert Pang Zhongying said while it might take a long time for the U.S. to find out who the culprits were, he was worried Washington would channel its wrath toward a scapegoat.

"Why has the U.S. become the target of terrorism," Pang asked. "The U.S. is the only superpower in the world. Yet its main enemy is not the others but itself."

Defense

A Peking University academic said it was likely that after the episode, the Bush administration would take a more aggressive stance in security and foreign policy, including deploying a missile defense system.

"The terrorist acts were perpetrated by low-tech methods," he said. "Yet Bush might cite the growing threat of terrorism to push his anti-missile and other sophisticated defense systems."

It is understood Chinese diplomats and other experts are making new assessments of the relations between the U.S. and the Middle East.

The experts are also looking at the long-term damage that the terrorist acts will do to the U.S. economy as well as world trade. China's exports have declined this year partly due to the downturn in the American economy.


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