- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Tiger roars

The U.S. ambassador to China says he is “very optimistic” about America’s relations with China this year, but the Chinese ambassador in Washington sounded annoyed and petulant about the future in one of his last interviews before returning home.

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong’s complaints centered on President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan and trade measures the White House slapped on some Chinese exports

“The U.S. side should take concrete measures to undo the negative effect,” Mr. Zhou told China’s Xinhua News Agency on Friday.

“Both countries should follow the principles defined by the Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the Sino-U.S. Joint Declaration, and, in particular, they should respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity so as to ensure the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations.”

Those declarations. beginning in 1972, set the diplomatic foundation for the establishment of U.S.-Chinese relations. Under the communiques, the United States agreed to recognize the communist government in Beijing as the only authority over China and to cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory. The United States also promised a gradual decrease in arms sales to Taiwan, although Congress asserted a separate U.S. responsibility to defend the democratic government on the island under the Taiwan Relations Act.

The state-owned news agency removed the story about Mr. Zhou’s interview some time over the weekend, but the original report remained Monday on the Web site of China’s People’s Daily. China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Yesui, is expected to replace Mr. Zhou later this month.

In Beijing, Xinhua carried a more positive story about U.S.-Chinese relations Monday with an interview with U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, who insisted that the two countries will maintain good relations during China’s Year of the Tiger.

“We have had some issues about which we have disagreed, but we have always been able to solve our problems and move on to the bigger issues,” he said.

Mr. Huntsman added he is “very optimistic” about U.S.-Chinese relations in 2010 and predicted the two countries will “come together quickly” and “focus on global issues during the rest of this year.”

Turkey squawks

Turkey, a key U.S. ally, on Monday warned the United States that a proposed congressional resolution on the Armenia “genocide” would harm ties between Washington and Ankara and undermine talks between Turkey and Armenia on establishing better relations.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to reject the resolution when the panel holds a hearing Thursday.

However, the resolution, which would recognize the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians beginning in 1915 as genocide, is supported by committee Chairman Howard L. Berman, California Democrat, and 136 other House members from both political parties. If the measure passes the committee, it is likely to be approved by the full House, which adopted similar measures in 1975 and 1984 only to see the resolutions rejected in the Senate.

“We have conveyed our concern and sorrow to various U.S. dignitaries,” Mr. Ozugergin told reporters in the Turkish capital.

“We would like to believe that members of the [committee] are aware of the fact that the adoption of such a resolution would be a blow to, not only Turkish-U.S. relations, but also to efforts to facilitate peace and stability in the southern Caucasus.”

Turkey objects to the resolution primarily because it believes the measure would tarnish the modern Turkish nation with the actions of the old Ottoman Turkish empire. Turkey also denies that the killings were a deliberate attempt to eliminate Armenians, arguing the deaths were the result of widespread fighting and chaos, as the Ottoman empire collapsed after World War I.

In October, Turkey and Armenia signed agreements on normalizing relations.

Japanese blamed

In a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, a bipartisan congressional coalition is demanding that Tokyo allow more U.S. vehicles to qualify for Japan’s own “cash-for-clunkers” program, as one House member complained that Japan “rigged the rules” to keep out most American car models.

The 46 House members who signed the letter last week accused Japan of applying too strict a standard for U.S. cars by using the Environmental Protection Agency’s city-mileage ratings, instead of the EPA’s combined city/highway ratings. They noted that Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry last month promised to be “inclusive” after the House members complained in an earlier letter in January that the program would have excluded all U.S. car models.

They also hinted of trade retaliation if Japan continues to apply the stricter standards.

“We are disappointed that Japan has unfortunately decided to us EPA city mileage ratings instead of EPA combined city/highway mileage ratings a the basis for determining eligibility [for the program],” the House members said.

Rep. Gary Peters, the Michigan Democrat who organized the letter, was blunter.

“The Japanese continue to break their promise,” he said. “They said they would allow American cars to participate in their cash-for-clunkers program but have rigged the rules so that few can.”

Japanese cars such as Toyota and Honda were among the top sellers in the U.S. cash-for-clunker program last year.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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