On the eve of the U.S. presidential election, China has accused President Bush of trying to rule the world and says the Iraq war has made global terrorism and ethnic conflicts worse. This is the first time China has been outspoken on issues impacting Tuesday's presidential election.
China's vice premier, and former foreign minister, Qian Qichen, said Monday the United States is "dreaming" if it thinks the 21st century is "the American century."
In an editorial in a state-run China Daily newspaper, he condemned President Bush's policy in Iraq, calling the war arrogant, saying it had made the United States unpopular and destroyed what he said was a "hard-won global anti-terror coalition."
He called for the Bush Doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive strikes against terrorist threats to be scrapped for the sake of global security.
Although the unusual editorial did not name President Bush's opponent, Senator John Kerry, the remarks by Mr. Qian on the eve of the U.S. presidential vote are the closest that China has come to taking sides in the election. Chinese officials have adamantly refused to comment on whom they support in the race, saying that doing so would be interfering in U.S. internal affairs.
Some analysts expressed surprise at China's decision Monday to speak out against Mr. Bush because Beijing could face trade problems if Mr. Kerry is elected. Politics professor David Zweig, at the Hong University of Science and Technology, says Democratic candidate John Kerry's allegiance to U.S. labor unions and opposition to outsourcing had made him likely to be unpopular among the Chinese leadership.
"Kerry has not always taken positions that China would like," Mr. Zweig says. "In some ways, if they were to vote on this election, one would have thought that they would be more inclined right now to take a slightly more pro-Bush position."
Chinese leaders have in the past praised President Bush for promoting trade ties, and for stating his administration's opposition to Taiwan's independence - a subject that Beijing regards as the most sensitive issue in its relations with Washington.
Professor Zweig says Monday's comments in the Chinese official press reflect China's growing prominence in international affairs. He says Beijing for the first time is seeing itself affected by U.S. policy in other parts of the world.
"The fact that Chinese are being kidnapped, killed in Pakistan," Mr. Zweig says. "China is now involved in the civil war in Darfour, in the Sudan. All of a sudden, what goes on in terms of American presence, of instability in the world has a much bigger impact on China than it did before."
China has often criticized what it has called the unilateralism of the Bush administration and was among the most vocal opponents last year to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.