Jiang issues hard critique of Bush
By Willy Lam
HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin has made a stinging critique of his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush during a meeting of senior party officials, a senior source told CNN.
Jiang is said to have called Bush "logically unsound; confused and unprincipled; unwise to the extreme," at a high level internal Communist Party meeting.
The source said that despite Jiang's relatively low assessment of the U.S. leader, he reiterated that Beijing should continue to adopt a "watch and assess" posture in its relations with the United States at least until the scheduled mini-summit between him and Bush in Beijing this October.
"Let's find out more about what Bush wants to do with Taiwan, the Dalai Lama and the missile-defense system," Jiang said, according to the source.
"Let him put more cards on the table -- and we shall respond accordingly."
The president, who also heads the communist party's Leading Group on Foreign Affairs, was speaking at a special meeting of senior Politburo members and foreign policy experts earlier this month to discuss Beijing's reaction to Bush's "anti-Chinese" policies, the source said.
The source said Jiang counseled a low-key response to Bush's apparent efforts to use Taipei and the exiled Tibetan government as pawns in an "anti-China containment policy."
The source told CNN that Jiang urged caution and suggested desisting from rash actions particularly in view of China's application to join the World Trade Organization and to host the Olympics.
More investment opportunities
The president reportedly said Beijing should concentrate on promoting the attractions of the Chinese market -- 1.3 billion consumers -- once China becomes part of the WTO.
Individual Chinese trade officials and diplomats have already hinted Beijing would open more investment and other business opportunities to America's competitors such as the European Union.
Beijing is hoping the U.S. corporate community will then put pressure on the White House to improve ties with China.
Jiang has also indicated he is ready to revise his so-called great power diplomacy.
In his discussions with former president Bill Clinton, Jiang strongly hinted that in return for Washington's "help" with Taiwan and other issues important to Beijing, the Chinese would agree to a U.S.- dominated world order.
Multi-polar world order
But during a special meeting earlier this month, a source told CNN Jiang and his aides talked of Beijing aiming to build a multi-polar world order by boosting ties with countries and blocs including Russia, the European Union, Pakistan, Iran, Japan and developing countries.
Some of Jiang's assessments on the Bush administration were reflected in statements on the United States by Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, who also attended the meeting, according to the source.
Zhu expressed frustrations with the U.S. president and his men during his tour of Thailand last week.
"We hear different voices from the U.S.," Zhu told reporters traveling with him.
"Even the same person can give forth different voices. That's why we are still hearing and watching, and we are still engaged in contacts."
Diplomatic analysts in Beijing said leaders such as Jiang and Zhu had come under heavy criticism from army and conservative groupings for being "soft and weak" in dealing with Bush.
If Jiang fails to get anything substantial from his summit with Bush this October, he might have no choice but to significantly harden his policy toward the United States and Taiwan, the analysts said.
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