Clinton's Re-Election Hailed by Leaders around the Globe: China Hopeful of Better Ties in Second Term

Article excerpt

World leaders from Asia to Africa yesterday welcomed President Clinton's re-election, with many expressing their hope the United States would remain a stabilizing force in international relations.

The people of the United States made a very great choice, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto told reporters in Tokyo. Mr. Clinton also received messages of congratulations from a number of other Asian leaders.

"I hope our joint efforts to realize peace and security on the Korean Peninsula will bear fruit in the near future," said South Korean President Kim Young-sam in a congratulatory telegram.

Even China, whose relations with Washington hit rock bottom on more than one occasion during Mr. Clinton's first term, expressed hope ties would improve in the next four years.

A good opportunity has presented itself for improving and expanding Sino-U.S. relations, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Cui Tiankai. Mr. Clinton is scheduled to visit China later this month.

The Clinton campaign was closely watched by many people in Asia, where allegedly illegal campaign contributions from places like Taiwan and Indonesia became a major scandal. But many analysts said the president had managed to shed his image in the region as a weak, vacillating leader.

He sent U.S. warships to waters near Taiwan in March as the nation held its first direct presidential election in the face of Chinese military exercises and missile tests.

While few Asian leaders praised the president publicly, many privately welcomed the move as a means to keep an increasingly assertive China in check.

In the Middle East, several leaders said they hoped Mr. Clinton's re-election would lead to increased American pressure on Israel.

But Israel told the Arabs not to expect it to be pressured into making peace concessions, and some U.S. foes attacked Mr. Clinton's policies.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, just a day after coming through open-heart surgery, sent a message to the man he likes to call "my friend Bill," hoping relations would continue to develop in a spirit of genuine partnership and cooperation. …