International Papers

Divide and Rule

China Daily said Friday in an editorial that behind America’s “barbaric air strikes against Yugoslavia” lies a plan to divide Europe and dominate the world. The United States’ secret strategic objective is to keep Russia and Western Europe apart, it said. The United States fears that Russia and the European Union are trying to get closer together and eventually might unite to compete with it in international trade. “The most urgent strategic task for the United States in Europe is first to contain Europe and prevent it from becoming powerful enough to threaten U.S. hegemony in the world,” the paper said. Then it will try to deepen Russia’s economic crisis with a view to destroying its nuclear capability. If this works, the United States might then target China to eliminate its nuclear capability.

In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported that Beijing has sent diplomats and foreign trade officials to Europe to lobby for an end to airstrikes. “Beijing is exploiting its status as an aggrieved party to weaken the unity of what it calls the Nato war machine,” the paper quoted an unidentified diplomat as saying. It also said that Chinese foreign trade officials have indicated that European countries that dissociate themselves from Washington’s “hawkish” policies will stand the best chance of reaping benefits from the vast China market. Even so, Beijing has signaled its willingness to separate politics and business by instructing the media to cool their anti-U.S. rhetoric. The media have been told that criticism of the United States should be confined to the specific issues of Kosovo and the embassy bombing. “The leadership wants to contain popular hostility even against American businesses and products,” a Beijing source told the SCMP. The paper also reported Friday that President Rexhep Meidani of Albania will visit Beijing this month for talks on the Kosovo crisis, despite the fact that the Albanian Embassy, like the embassies of the United States and Britain, was attacked by demonstrators Sunday and Monday, apparently because Albania is considered an ally of NATO.

Despite editorials around the world expressing alarm about the deteriorating political situation in Russia (including an especially strong one in Asahi Shimbun of Tokyo), Le Figaro of Paris led Friday with French President Jacques Chirac declaring after talks in the Kremlin that he doesn’t believe that Russia will withdraw from the Kosovo peace process and that he expects the next few days to show “that things are moving in the right direction, that of peace.” The German press led on the deal struck at a stormy meeting of the Green Party, a member of Germany’s ruling coalition, by which the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is permitted to hold to its existing war policy.

The Italian papers were dominated by the election of former governor of the Bank of Italy Carlo Azeglio Ciampi as Italy’s next president at the age of 78. The easy victory of this former wartime partisan and European enthusiast was welcomed by La Repubblica of Rome in a front-page comment as “a fine moment for Italian politics and for the whole country.” Kosovo was replaced on the front pages of several British newspapers by the start of a new campaign by Prime Minister Tony Blair to put an ambivalent Britain at “the heart of Europe,” and by the threat of huge disruption to the country’s secret intelligence services by the publication on various Web sites of a list of 117 British secret agents. The Guardian, in its main front-page lead, said that frantic government efforts to purge the Web of this sensitive information are “doomed to failure.”

In Canada, the conservative National Post accused Janet Reno of “dereliction of duty” for failing to investigate China’s theft of a half-century’s worth of nuclear secrets from Los Alamos, N.M., “the most damaging case of spying against the United States since the Rosenbergs passed along the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.” It said Friday in an editorial that U.S. scientists informed the Energy Department that as early as 1995 they suspected China had stolen the design of the United States’ most advanced nuclear warhead, the W-88. Yet it looks as if Reno chose not to investigate all this “on the old principle: ‘if something smells bad, why put your nose in it?’ When that something is the theft of the development codes for the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal, however, such discretion shades into dereliction of duty of the worst kind. It must now receive the fullest and most open inquiry–and any resistance to such investigation will unavoidably look like evidence of guilt.”

The Times of London led its front page Friday with the news that the parents of Louise Woodward, the English nanny convicted two years ago in Boston of killing 9-month-old Matthew Eappen, have been arrested in England over fraud allegations relating to a trust fund set up to pay their daughter’s defense costs. Sue and Gary Woodward, who have separated, have been released on bail until July 1, the paper said. The Daily Telegraph gave front-page treatment Friday to the death in London of a 7-month-old baby who had been put in a clothes drier by his 3-year-old sister, who thought she was being helpful when he woke up crying with a soiled diaper. The Guardian’s front page reported that British teen-agers have the worst record for sexual disease, pregnancy, and abortions in Europe.