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Asian editorial excerpts - TREATY'S TEST.

TOKYO, July 17 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Asia-Pacific press:

TREATY'S TEST (South China Morning Post, Hong Kong)

The first treaty of cooperation between China and Russia, signed more than 50 years ago by Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin, was a Cold War pact between two giant communist states. Its aim was to build an impregnable socialist bloc which would eventually dominate and destroy capitalism.

The treaty that Mao and Stalin's successors signed in Moscow on Monday is a very different document, signed by two very different countries.

The Soviet Union has crumbled, and its successor state Russia has embraced capitalism with a vengeance. China remains superficially unchanged, but it too has long abandoned Marxist economics and is moving wholeheartedly toward becoming part of the global capitalist system.

So what is the significance of this new Sino-Russian treaty at the beginning of the 21st century?

Though the details of the agreement have not been made public, from what the two leaders and their officials have said, it is possible to see some similarities between the old and the new.

Though the Cold War is over and China and Russia have made it amply clear they are not planning a treaty directed against any other country, the two have stated their opposition to U.S. plans for a nuclear missile defense system and their general opposition to a uni-polar world dominated by the United States and its allies. Befitting the changed times, this opposition is muted, and there is an air of inevitability about the fact that if the U.S. is determined to build a missile defense system, it will go ahead and do so.

The cooperation between the then Soviet Union and China in the 1950s was not solely directed against the U.S. and its allies. It was also an attempt by the two countries to cooperate economically and build a prosperous socialist bloc. Economic cooperation is still a strong theme in the new treaty. Trade between the two countries is at present a paltry US$8 billion a year. The new treaty envisages this to increase to a modest US$10 billion over the short term, but clearly this is only a first step toward widening bilateral trade.

The third element in the new treaty was one that was not spelt out in the earlier Cold War version. This is the attempt by both countries to ensure peace on their own borders. In 1950, no one imagined that relations between China and the Soviet Union would deteriorate into the kind of border clashes that were seen in 1969. The new treaty is an attempt to ensure that the two countries never clash again, but instead ''solve joint disputes exclusively through peaceful means.''

The new treaty is far more modest in its aims than the earlier one. For this reason, it is far more likely to stand the test of time.

(July 17)
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jul 23, 2001
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