The re-election of US President George W. Bush has been followed by changes in his cabinet. The most attention has been given to the resignation of Secretary of State Colin Powell and his replacement by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
The New York Times editorial has called her a friend of Bush and pointed out that she should tell Bush what he needs, not what he wants, to hear. Although both Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are more experienced than Rice in national security matters, she is closer to Bush than they are.
Rice will be replaced by Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who has a background as a lawyer. Although Bush has called Hadley intelligent and said he possesses good judgement, Hadley has long held a low profile and is known as a reliable bureaucrat who works long hours, without the strategic thinking of a Rice, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski or Henry Kissinger.
Although the opinions of Rice and Rumsfeld may differ, Rice might remain the core of the national security team in Bush's second term.
Before Rice was appointed as national security adviser in October 2000, she said that China is not the keeper of the Asian status quo, but rather that it is causing a change in the balance of power. This means problems and trouble, because it is waiting for an opportunity to change the status quo to meet the requirements of its own national interests.
Rice pointed out that the question of whether China will succeed in controlling the Asian power balance will depend on the US response, and that the US, apart from strengthening its cooperation with Japan and South Korea, must pay attention to the role India can play in the regional balance.
Rice advocates involving government, military and the economy when dealing with China. In addition to restraining China's political and military power, trade exchanges should also be used to push for domestic changes in China.
Rice last visited China, Japan and South Korea in July this year, a trip that was focused on resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. Bush has decided that the US shall withdraw 12,500 of the US troops stationed in South Korea next year, but Rice has stated that the administration's promise to maintain security on the Korean Peninsula will remain unchanged.
During a meeting with Japan's foreign minister, Rice said she hopes that the US and Japan will continue to push for dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, that the Chinese economy will become more integrated with the global economy, and that Beijing will play a more active role in the six-nation talks on the North Korean issue.
When Rice met with the Chinese leadership in Beijing, she made six points. First, she hoped for dialogue between Beijing and Taipei, saying that the US would be willing to take further action if that would help realize such talks.
Second, Beijing's insistence that Taiwan's acceptance of the "one China" principle as a condition for talks was not conducive to cross-strait dialogue.
Third, US arms sales to Taiwan are based on the Taiwan Relations Act, and therefore there is no way of ending such sales.
Fourth, the US will continue to adopt measures to keep the Chen Shui-bian (
Fifth, the US respects the "one China" policy, stands firmly by the three joint Sino-US communiques, and hopes that there will not be any instability in the Taiwan Strait.