- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2001

In a speech to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Shanghai over the weekend, President Bush issued a clarion call for Asian countries to join the war against international terrorism. "Our global enemies are murderers with global reach," Mr. Bush stated. "Every nation now must oppose this enemy, or be, in turn, its target."

Mr. Bush emphasized that, while the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "took place in my country," they "were really an attack on all civilized countries." One of the major goals of the terrorists was to severely damage the world economy, Mr. Bush stated: "Terrorists want to turn the openness of the global economy against itself. We must not let them." The president noted that "pursuing both openness and security is difficult, but it is necessary."

The 21-member APEC issued an unprecedented joint declaration against terrorism, including a condemnation of the "murderous deeds" that occurred on Sept. 11, "as well as terrorist acts in all forms and manifestations." Participants added that "terrorism is a direct challenge to APEC's vision of free, open and prosperous economies, and to the fundamental values that APEC members hold."

Unfortunately, in order to appease large Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia, the declaration apparently failed to support the U.S. military campaign against Afghanistan's murderous Taliban regime and failed to insist that the Taliban turn Osama bin Laden over for trial. The summit also illustrated why the United States needs to be wary of "supporters" of the international coalition against terrorism like China. This newspaper's Joseph Curl reported Sunday from Shanghai that, at the APEC meeting, Chinese President Jiang Zemin "expressed no remorse" over the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States and gave only a "lukewarm" endorsement to the U.S. war against terrorism. This would appear to constitute a step backward for China, which earlier had denounced those terrorist strikes against America. (China also undercut APEC's unity against terror by imposing conditions that forced democratic Taiwan, an APEC member in good standing, to stay away from the summit.)

The Bush administration must also be mindful of the reality that an even more forceful condemnation would ring hollow if not accompanied by an end to Beijing's destabilizing arms sales and military assistance to terrorist-supporting states like Iran and Iraq and, very possibly, even to the Taliban. As veteran China analyst Richard Fisher noted in Sunday's Commentary section, Beijing has sold nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel-reprocessing components equipment to Iran, as well as cruise missiles that could possibly carry a small nuclear device. China has also helped Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's efforts to build new fiber optic communications networks that could aid Baghdad's efforts to shoot down U.S. aircraft. Some reports indicate that the Taliban have been receiving economic and military aid from China.

On the positive side, the United States can rightly take some encouragement from Moscow's increasingly cooperative tone. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, said Sunday that the military campaign against the Taliban needed to continue, adding that "otherwise, terrorists will feel invincible." Mr. Putin provides us with a salient reminder, that, for now, the only way to end Taliban thuggery toward the Afghan people and create a new regime in Kabul that is not a menace to international peace is to press forward with the current U.S.-British-led military campaign.

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