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PacNet #18A – Bush’s First 100 Days: Northeast Asia Policy Off to a Rocky Start

The Bush administration’s first 100 days have been rocky ones as far as Asia policy is concerned. The positive spin emanating from President Bush’s initial meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen quickly degenerated into a potential tailspin in Sino-U.S. relations after the mid-air collision between a Chinese jet fighter and a U.S. reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea. In addition, mixed signals from Bush’s summit meeting with ROK President Kim Dae-jung seemed to contradict earlier, more positive statements by Secretary of State Colin Powell that the U.S. would support both the ROK’s and the previous U.S. administration’s policies of engagement with North Korea. Meanwhile, reality, in the form both of a surfacing submarine and a sinking economy, also tested Bush’s resolve to raise U.S.-Japan relations to a higher strategic level. Still missing after 100 days is an overall vision statement for Asia to guide day-to-day policy.