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November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

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Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

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Alejandro Reyes APEC '99: Day Five
Days of Diplomacy
By ALEJANDRO REYES Auckland


also:
Meeting Ramos-Horta


September 14, 1999
Web posted at 7:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, 7:30 a.m. EDT


    THE APEC SUMMIT
APEC '99 by the Numbers

Day Seven
Men - and One Woman - in Black
- Monday, Sept. 13, 1999

Day Six
On the Diplomatic Trail With Thailand's Chuan Leekpai
- Sunday, Sept. 12, 1999

Day Five
Days of Diplomacy
- Saturday, Sept. 11, 1999

Day Four
Even before he arrives, Bill Clinton makes his presence felt
- Friday, Sept. 10, 1999

Day Three
East Timor, Trade Talks, Clinton - and What The Leaders Will Wear
- Thursday, Sept. 9, 1999

Day Two: The Missing Agenda
Between East Timor and impending Sino-U.S. talks, the real business of APEC is being pushed aside
- Wednesday, Sept. 8, 1999

Day One
The hosts spend big to put their best foot forward. But will the Timor situation rain on Auckland's parade?
- Tuesday, Sept. 7, 1999

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Auckland is teeming with powerbrokers and dealmakers. Eight APEC leaders arrived on Sept. 10, while eleven others including U.S. President Bill Clinton flew in the following day. (Indonesia's President B.J. Habibie has decided not to attend the summit and will be represented by his Economy Minister Ginandjar Kartasasmita, who arrived on Sept. 8.) Business chiefs from around the Pacific Rim are also in town to participate in a sideline "CEO Summit" over the weekend. Police have blocked several downtown streets to allow free access to official motorcades and vehicles with special stickers.

The day and a half between the end of the ministerial talks and the beginning of the leaders' summit is usually devoted to behind-the-scenes diplomacy, as bilateral meetings are held as delegations crisscross the host city. The big show today was the much-awaited tête-à-tête between Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who jetted in from Australia, where he and his wife had been on a state visit.

Clinton, accompanied by daughter Chelsea and mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham (wife Hillary stayed at home to concentrate on her probable campaign for the U.S. Senate), was greeted at Auckland's airport by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and a colorful pageant put on by young Maori and South Pacific performers. New Zealand hasn't received an American president since Lyndon Johnson came in the 1960s, so Clinton's arrival was hotly anticipated by his hosts. Clinton quickly charmed them. Soon after touching down, he and his party put in an impromptu appearance downtown for a quick shopping spree, taking in some specialty shops selling New Zealand products. Chelsea bought a silver bracelet, while her father purchased a cardigan.

In the evening, Jiang and Clinton met at Government House, their first encounter since Kuala Lumpur last year and the first Sino-American summit since the U.S.-led NATO bombing in May of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Both men were cordial, smiling and shaking hands for photographers. Asked if a deal could soon be reached on China's membership in the World Trade Organization, Clinton replied: "I certainly hope so." Talks on Beijing's entry into the WTO had been frozen since the bombing, but technical discussions resumed in Beijing this week. In Auckland, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky has been meeting counterpart Shi Guangsheng, both agreeing to resume WTO negotiations. Predictably, Jiang and Clinton echoed that decision.

The Jiang-Clinton summit was a disappointment for those expecting a major breakthrough in relations between the two countries. Barshefsky and Shi are continuing their talks, but there is little likelihood that a final agreement on a WTO pact can be reached in Auckland. Time is running out. Both sides will need to sign a deal in the coming weeks if China is to become a member by the WTO ministerial conference that starts on Nov. 30.  

Meeting Ramos-Horta
APEC I spent the early afternoon with East Timor independence leader José Ramos-Horta. The Nobel Peace laureate is staying in a modest bed-and-breakfast inn just in the Auckland district of Ponsonby - a far cry from the plush five-star hotels where the ministers and leaders are residing. Looking relaxed, he sat down in the parlor with me for an interview, which will be published in Asiaweek on Sept. 16.

His voice raspy from appearances at rallies the previous day, Ramos-Horta argued the case for sending a U.N. peacekeeping force to East Timor without waiting for Jakarta's approval. "When a state cannot protect its citizens and when that same state uses the power of the state to abuse its own people, it loses its own legitimacy and it gives rise to international responsibility and the right of other states to intervene," he said. "What Indonesia has done with regards to East Timor has brought Indonesia down in the eyes of the international community. There is no other country I know of that has acted in the way Indonesia has acted in the last few days in forcing deportation of civilians and in denying humanitarian agencies access to refugees and displaced persons. East Timor is the only place where Indonesian troops, police and armed gangs stormed the Red Cross, pulled out refugees, shot them, and prevented humanitarian agencies from accessing them. These are war crimes."

Ramos-Horta will meet Bill Clinton on Sept. 13.


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