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Standoff Over Detained Plane, Crew Further Saps U.S. Relations With China

Aired April 13, 2001 - 06:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JASON CARROLL, CNN ANCHOR: What is next for U.S.-China relations? Well, that is not so clear.

CNN senior White House correspondent John King takes a look at some of the options.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What next is a question already being debated at the White House, and there are few easy choices as the president assesses the future of U.S.-China relations. The standoff invigorated China's critics in the Congress and in the upper ranks of the administration. There will be quick pressure for the president to turn tough now that the 24 U.S. crew members are free.

LEE HAMILTON, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: It will ratchet up the tensions between the two countries. It will make progress on a lot of other issues much more difficult. So this is really a defining incident for the Bush administration.

KING: The conservative "The Weekly Standard" called it a national humiliation and articulated a sentiment heard more and more as the standoff dragged on: "It is essential that the Chinese be made to pay a price for their actions." The editorial goes on to say, "Angry words and congressional resolutions of disapproval are now worse than useless. Unless backed by deeds, they will only confirm Beijing's perception of American weakness."

Mr. Bush, later this month, must decide what new weapons to sell Taiwan. And even before the standoff, several top aides were advocating the sale of destroyers with the state-of-the-art Aegis radar system.

Beijing opposes such a sale. But some analysts say the Chinese government would have only itself to blame.

JAMES STEINBERG, FMR. DEP. NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: Over the past several years, China has engaged in a buildup of its military forces, and particularly in a buildup of its short and medium-range missile forces that could threaten or intimidate Taiwan.

KING: Other potential sanctions include revoking China's favorable trade status with the United States, canceling a planned Bush visit to Beijing in the fall, and opposing China's bid to host the 2008 Olympics.

Any sanctions likely would cause a backlash in Beijing.

BATES GILL, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: In the situation now, the Chinese view of the United States is quite suspicious. They're not certain of what our strategic intention towards them might be, and any act that appears to be bullying, hegemonic or unilateralist, in their terms, is bound to stir up passions in the nationalist part of the public.

KING: So even after the standoff, Mr. Bush will be walking a fine line. Aides say he firmly believes isolating China would do more harm than good in the long run.

(on camera): But top advisers say the president has made clear in recent days that Beijing must pay a price for its actions and that he has also acknowledged that, no matter what he thinks, there will be considerable domestic political pressure to get tough.

John King, CNN, the Washington.

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