International Papers

Stumped by Stumpage

The South China Morning Post goes ballistic, running an immense “Clinton in China” package. Adding to reams of news coverage, an analysis piece reports on the careful press manipulation of the president’s tour. Clinton aides are relieved that a controversial ceremony in Tiananmen Square will take place only after Friday’s evening newscasts in the United States, relegating it to less-watched weekend programs. The article wonders if this was the result of dumb luck or devious engineering. A separate SCMP story illustrates the rampant Americanization Clinton will encounter in China. In addition to obvious infiltrators (McDonald’s, Microsoft, Titanic), the entire American “way of thinking” has invaded the country. President Jiang Zemin loves Elvis and FDR (both Clinton favorites); the central banking system is being modeled after the U.S. Federal Reserve; the judicial system is moving toward the American style; and the military is taking its cues from West Point protocol. Still, leaders have warned against adopting American values–the “sugar-coated bullets of capitalism.”

China Online posts the complete text of an article from People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. The essay, written on the occasion of Clinton’s visit, generally trumpets this summit as a positive step in warming Sino-U.S. relations. A few passages stand out, however:

As far as the Taiwan issue is concerned, the American leaders have time and again reiterated their promise: The United States persists in its one China policy … does not support the view of ‘one China, one Taiwan,’ or ‘two Chinas’; does not support Taiwan independence; and does not support Taiwan to join the United Nations.

In the United States, the majority of people hope for Sino-U.S. friendly ties. However, a handful of people, who have a Cold War mentality, will spread rumors and create trouble to obstruct and undermine Sino-U.S. relations once opportunity arises. This definitely does not enjoy popular support.

Apair of essays in two different papers demonstrates conflict over the visit. In the Sydney Morning Herald, an editorial laughs at the notion that the United States could build a “strategic partnership” with China, which is crumbling from within and is a poor country whose Communist leadership no longer has the support of its people. We need not fear China, and Clinton should press without compromise on human rights and political reform. Meanwhile, an editorial in the Free China Journal of Taiwan argues that China holds the upper hand in negotiations with the United States. Clinton’s agreement to appear in Tiananmen Square marks a huge victory for Jiang, and the entire trip has been played according to Chinese terms. The piece quotes a U.S. official in Asia who predicts “Clinton’s going to kowtow all over Peking.”

The Buenos Aires Herald is all abuzz over a daring one-man invasion of the Malvinas Islands (known in Britain as the Falklands, site of a 10 week war that killed 1,000 military personnel). An Argentine flew his twin-engine aircraft toward the islands in a “surprise” mission of peace. When he was picked up on British radar, a Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jet intercepted him and forced him to land in Malvinas. “Apart from relatives of soldiers who were killed in the 1982 war, [the pilot] was the first Argentine to step onto the islands since the conflict.” He was arrested as an illegal immigrant and immediately deported.

The Vancouver Sun reports in its lead story that Canadian logging companies and officials will vigorously fight the United States over stumpage rates. Canadians want lower stumpage so they can compete. American loggers think lower stumpage will give Canadian firms an unfair advantage. What’s stumpage? “Stumpage is the fee per cubic metre that government charges forest companies for the right to harvest timber on Crown land.” And now you know.