Strikes on U.S. tap well of anger in Asia
By MIRO CERNETIG, The Globe and Mail
With reports from Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
BEIJING -- Across Asia, governments quickly and universally condemned the terrorist attacks in the United States yesterday.
In Japan, which has dealt with its own terrorist attacks in the past, there was immediate support for the United States. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ordered heightened security at U.S. military bases and signalled his government's support of initiatives to prevent further acts of terrorism.
"We can never forgive such a dastardly and outrageous act. On behalf of the people of Japan, I express my condolences to the American people from my bottom of my heart," the Prime Minister said in a statement. "This sort of terrorism will never be forgiven and we feel strong anger," he said in a message to U.S. President George W. Bush.
Similar support came from Singapore, a long-time U.S. ally.
"I would like to convey my deepest condolences to you, the families of all of the bereaved and the people and government of the United States of America," Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said in a letter to Mr. Bush. "We join you and others in strongly condemning these acts of terrorism."
A Taiwanese government spokeswoman said: "We condemn every violence whatever their excuses might be."
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad suspended his country's stock market and cancelled a trip to Britain, Russia and Germany.
Armed personnel were deployed by authorities to protect U.S. embassies in Thailand, India, China, the Philippines and other countries. Hong Kong's police were put on alert.
And China, which wields an increasing regional influence from Afghanistan to North Korea, both linked to past terrorist activities, has said it also opposes terrorism.
"The Chinese government has consistently condemned and opposed all manner of terrorist violence," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said. "The Chinese people were deeply shocked by the disastrous attacks against the U.S. in New York, Washington and some other areas, that caused devastating casualties."
But statements alone may no longer be enough for China, which increasingly hopes to be a multilateral player in international affairs.
"China will now find itself in a new world, with the United States and the West demanding it take a more proactive role in isolating states that harbour terrorists and help reduce the risk of such attacks in the future," a Western diplomat said. "China has had close links with North Korea, which has long been connected to terrorist activities and attempts to build nuclear weapons. China also has been spreading missile technology to Pakistan and Iran, against U.S. wishes." China and Russia, both of which have experienced terrorist attacks by Muslim separatists, are poised to have a major role in Central Asia, including -- if they choose to exercise it -- Afghanistan. Beijing and Moscow are the leaders of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, consisting of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which has vowed to co-operate in controlling terrorism.
"Afghanistan's government is not part of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, but all of its neighbours are," another Western diplomat said. "Together, they can play a major role in global stability. If Afghanistan is harbouring terrorists, as is suspected, China can have a major role in bringing them to justice."