- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

The State Department yesterday summoned Chinese Ambassador Yang Jiechi to complain about comments by one of China’s elder statesman calling U.S. foreign policy “arrogant.”

The remarks, attributed to former Deputy Prime Minister Qian Qichen, prompted the State Department to call Mr. Yang to a meeting with James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

The meeting, however, failed to clarify what Mr. Qian said and how much his remarks reflected the views of the Beijing government, officials said.

Mr. Kelly “expressed concern, disappointment and puzzlement” over the comments, which were reported Monday in the English-language China Daily, a State Department official said.

Mr. Qian, who is also a former foreign minister, blamed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq for increasing the number of terrorist attacks, and accused an “arrogant” United States of trying to “rule the world.”

“The philosophy of the ‘Bush Doctrine’ is in essence force,” he was quoted as saying. “It advocates the United States should rule over the whole world with overwhelming force, military force in particular.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the article should not have appeared on the eve of yesterday’s presidential election and issued an opaque statement.

“Qian Qichen did not accept any interviews from China Daily or other Chinese media nor did he write any articles for China Daily,” spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said.

But neither he nor any other officials, including those at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, denied the authenticity and substance of Mr. Qian’s remarks.

In fact, Miss Zhang spoke yesterday against unilateralism, albeit in general terms.

“It is not enough to rely on one or two countries to resolve all kinds of challenges and crisis,” she told reporters in Beijing.

China, as in most countries, has refrained from making comments that could be interpreted as taking sides in the U.S. election.

But U.S. officials expressed doubt that Mr. Qian’s remarks were a coincidence. They noted that there is no free press in China, and the article in question hardly could have slipped past the censors.

A senior State Department official speculated that Beijing was doing some contingency planning, in case Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, wins the election.

The article was reprinted from the Study Times, a weekly Chinese-language newspaper run by the Communist Party Central Committee’s party school, where it was first published Oct. 25.

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