The Clinton administration signaled last week that, publicly at least, it sees little to fear in Boris Yeltsin’s April 24-26 visit to China and the declarations of enhanced Sino-Russian cooperation that resulted from it. "We don’t have any concerns," State Department deputy spokesman Glyn Davies said. "In fact… to the extent those two nations get along better and have such contacts we think the region and world is better off." (Reuter, April 25)
Many other observers shared that equanimity, suggesting that underlying tensions between the two countries preclude the development of any real alliance and that the many agreements reached in China — including those involving military cooperation — would nevertheless not change the balance of power in Asia. One Western diplomat in Beijing was quoted as saying that while the Yeltsin visit turned into the "love-fest everyone expected," the two sides were "largely papering over the cracks" created by problems they have yet to resolve. Another observed that the meeting produced "no practical proposals to work together against Western interests," but described the meeting’s rhetoric as a "strong signal to the West to pay attention" because the two countries do not "want to be pushed around." Russia, it was noted, needs a counterweight to the West, while China has viewed with dismay the recent reaffirmation of the U.S.-Japanese security relationship and Washington’s commitment to maintain U.S. troop levels in Asia. (Reuter, April 26)
Ground Forces Protest Cuts.