EVEN IF the attack was an accident, it is still an unforgivable mistake. Many innocent civilians have already been killed by mistake since the bombing started. Nato forces have expressed very little sympathy. In contrast, the release of three American soldiers was given widespread fanfare. Such are the double standards practised by the US. To maintain the dignity of the country, China must demand from the US and Nato a sincere apology and fair compensation. Also, the people should stage protests against the US to condemn the violence committed by Nato. If China does not respond immediately, the US will think it is weak.
THE New York Times
AS IF the war in Yugoslavia were not complicated enough, President Clinton must now deal with an infuriated China as he tries to fashion a political settlement in the Balkans. That is just one of several serious problems facing Mr Clinton in the aftermath of last week's mistaken bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Another is China itself, which showed an ominously volatile side in its response to the accidental attack. In his six years as President, Mr Clinton has not faced a more difficult set of foreign policy challenges.
NATO HAS committed a new error in bombing the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. The explosion of anti-American sentiment was carefully cultivated and encouraged by the Chinese authorities. For them, it is an opportunity. Their hope is to see the masses denounce the "imperialism" of the US in a burst of patriotism resulting in a renewal of support behind its leaders. But it would be unwise of China to underestimate the risks that come with unleashing protesters. Already, the opening to the West and the US, driven by Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, is contested by even those inside the regime. The popular discontent could well backfire on him.
Hong Kong Standard
THE BOMBING campaign, it is clear, has done nothing to diminish the defiance of the Serbs nor kicked them out of Kosovo. All it has done is to fill up the cemeteries. The attack on the Chinese embassy is not likely to start a Third World War. It must, however, serve as a warning to Beijing and the People's Liberation Army of the need to build a modern, professional army equipped with the best that technology can offer. Not so much as to challenge the US or Nato or even to overpower anyone in the neighbourhood, but to make certain that China cannot and should not be pushed around.
LET'S OVERTURN reality and hypothesize that in one country of the world the US embassy is hit and missiles kill American citizens. Even if it involves an obvious mistake and the instigators of the attack ask for forgiveness, we can accept as a given that those hurt would consider it their right to retaliate, certainly in a violent way, to heal their prestige. If all the rest of the "mistakes" show how dark and bottomless the hole is in the psyche of those designing the slaughters like board games, then the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade happened in order to confirm in an undisputable way US hegemony and its already enacted monopoly of violence.
A FULL explanation of what went wrong and why must be made so there can be no unanswered questions, nor suspicion that the targeting of the embassy was anything other than accidental. Perhaps there should even be a proper and public apology. Not words of sadness, but a formal expression of apology. On its part, Beijing must dampen the ardour of the anti- US protests before they threaten to damage Sino-US relations in a way that would benefit no one.
BEIJING'S REACTION to the Nato bombing is understandable. Also understandable is the rage of many Chinese. But this doesn't suffice to explain the massiveness of the protests in China. For many who took to the streets the incident is only an excuse. Behind the tirades of hate is a suppressed nationalism. State media reported that the bombing of the embassy was intentional. The people believe it, and it fits only too well into the Chinese leadership's vision. The protests are to increase pressure on the West. But emotionally whipped up, the protests could derail. The game with the people's anger, that was last shown in 1989 on Tiananmen Square, is dangerous.
CHINA VERSUS NATO
World reaction to Nato's `accidental' bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and subsequent riots in China
Scottish comment on the coalition agreement between Labour and the Lib Dems as their parliament opens
DONALD DEWAR has passed his first test as head of the new Scottish government with flying colours. After four days of hard horse-trading with the Liberal Democrats, he has emerged with a deal that concedes very little - but ropes Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace into an agreement that will cause him trouble in his own party. Mr Dewar has got away without giving away anything in principle. The agreement may be fudged and fussy around the edges, but nothing can be clear-cut in coalition. It is a workable basis for the first four years of Scottish government.
MUCH HAS been made of the dawning in Scotland of a new era in consensus- driven administration. We are now beginning to see something of how the concept might work at council level. In a ringing declaration of objectives, the new administration stresses a wish to lay purely party differences aside adding, "Much can be achieved by co-operation, not conflict." That mirrors Herculean efforts by Mr Dewar to find common ground with Liberal Democrats in Edinburgh. Labour will run the council but they do not rule the roost. From now on the administration can take very little for granted.
Press and Journal
WHILE THE country has been preoccupied with all the seemingly important debut issues, such as the election of a new First Minister, all those little niggly things are simmering away underneath the surface, anxious to become big niggly things. The delineation of fishing zones is one. Do English students qualify for free tuition in Scotland when tuition fees are scrapped? We can't expect these and many other issues to be fixed overnight, but it is as well to remember, in the euphoria of the many grand decisions, that there will soon be more than enough to occupy the MSPs.
West Highland Free Press
THE SCOTTISH Parliament now has to justify its existence. The turn-out throughout Scotland last week did not suggest a wave of popular enthusiasm. That will have to be earned. For the time being, we take satisfaction from the fact that there is to be a Labour-led administration with many good people in it. We are pleased that nationalism has been soundly defeated. And we look forward to reporting the new Parliament in the context, we hope, of the achievements which it will soon be able to proclaim on behalf of the land, the language and the people.
DONALD DEWAR and his party could have decided to soldier on, as a minority administration, trimming and tailoring their programme to those elements they thought would command ad-hoc majorities. That would have been the bold option. But with the dregs of a confrontational political culture that still regards governments losing votes as governments forfeiting their right to office still all around us, it might also be - with Scotland's enhanced democracy still a very fragile beastie - the foolhardy option. So it comes as no surprise that Donald Dewar and his party opted instead for stability and an early pact with the Lib Dems. (Alf Young)
IN THE long term, Jim Wallace should be conscious that the Scottish party runs the risk of losing its identity and being merged with Labour in voters' minds. The Liberal Democrats' best known policy - that of raising a penny of the tartan tax to invest in health and education - has already passed into electoral antiquity. Already only one in five Liberal Democrat voters identify strongly with their party. The rest are casting protest votes of one kind or another. The party cannot afford to lose them. (Kirsty Milne)
Views on the acquittal of Dr David Moor, the Newcastle GP who was on trial for the murder of one of his patients
THEY SAY doctors should not be above the law. They are right. Doctors cannot go around killing patients. But there are exceptions to every rule. If the only way to relieve suffering is to end life then for many people that is the right way. Every patient and every doctor should have the right to choose.
UNDERSTANDABLY, THE Voluntary Euthanasia Society is delighted with the jury's decision. But the anti-euthanasia group, Alert, is right in complaining that the result has made the law even more unclear. Dr Moor claimed in the trial he was only helping relieve Mr Liddell from his acute pain. Doctors are legally allowed to administer drugs which hasten a patient's death so long as their intention is to ease suffering. So what should happen now? Medical opinion is swinging behind euthanasia. Yet many doctors would prefer to leave the current law untouched, allowing them to covertly, rather than overtly, practise euthanasia.
ACCEPTANCE OF the idea of "mercy killing" is undoubtedly widespread, as is the suspicion that it is being practised in Britain. A series of court judgments could gradually establish the legality of euthanasia, until Parliament is faced with a fait accompli. This is precisely what occurred in the Netherlands. Yet the Dutch experience ought to deter us. Within a few years of the decriminalisation of voluntary euthanasia, doctors were shortening life without a request from the patient at the rate of some 15,000 cases a year. To relieve pain and distress, to allow patients to die with dignity, is the physician's proper function; to kill them deliberately is murder.
WE APPLAUD the jury who had the sense to find Dr Moor not guilty of murder. We do not want mercy killing to be made legal. There are too many perils along that route. But the sensitive handling of terminal illness should be left to the wisdom and skill of those who dedicate themselves to the medical profession. If we trust them with our lives, we should also trust them with our death.
UPHEAVAL IN RUSSIA
Russian comment on Boris Yeltsin's sacking of his prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov
YELTSIN HAS yet again managed to complicate the political situation to the extreme. Most of our Kremlin sources recognise the possibility of the situation developing into a violent scenario and confirm that the president will react adequately to any anti-constitutional actions.
THE COUNTRY is again following with fear the unstable gait of its president. Unfortunately, Yeltsin of late is doing worse in handling the deficiencies of his character. He is behaving like a person surrounded by enemies, treachery and betrayal.
SURELY BY sacking his Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, the president took what may have been the most unpopular decision of his career. He is alone as never before.
YELTSIN IS persistently trying to save political face. This is becoming ever more difficult. Illness takes its toll and it is fairly difficult to hide its influence. In such a case the best means become the hard presidential fist unleashed over the head of either the government or the State Duma.
St Petersburg Times
THE KREMLIN protests that Primakov allegedly sold his soul to the Communists, which was, according to them, the reason to fire him, are not true. The actual far-from-ideal relations between Primakov and the Communists are well known to everybody.
Comment on the former MI6 officer blamed for naming fellow officers on the Internet
PUBLICATION OF the names of MI6 agents was irresponsible, vindictive and indefensible. The disaffected MI6 officer Tomlinson, who published the names, has clearly acted out of nothing better than spite. His solicitor John Wadham, director of the human rights organisation Liberty, should consider whether it is in Liberty's interests to represent the former agent. Liberty is a fine organisation with an admirable record in fighting for civil rights. But Richard Tomlinson's behaviour has become indefensible.
THIS IS one of the most serious breaches of security in decades. It potentially imperils the lives of many people around the world and puts at risk our national security. It is vital that we find out immediately how an American-based website was given such secret information. The finger may be pointed at a treacherous ex-MI6 agent. If that turns out to be the case, he or she should face the full rigours of the law.
THE SECRET intelligence service can pursue those responsible for Internet revelations to the ends of the earth, but they cannot chase them into cyberspace. This is why the Web is the greatest threat to a traditional organisation such as SIS - it represents anarchy.
IT IS no longer possible to see Tomlinson as a lone figure fighting to expose what he thought was a corrupt system. Any sympathy he may once have deserved has now vanished. He deserves nothing but contempt.
Stories from around the world
A PORN star is currently applying to get his private parts insured. He explains in his application: "I am writing to you today to arrange an insurance contract before I travel overseas. My profession is exhausting and demands great effort all the time. I am a porn star and the tool of my trade is constantly under strain. Like concert pianists who insure their hands, I want to be sure that I too have a future if something should go wrong." Most of the Norwegian insurance companies have received a letter from him. Neither Vesta, Vital or Storebrand have answered his request positively. Overseas, it is not unusual for female porn stars to insure their attributes, but the market for this type of insurance is certainly small in Norway.
IT WOULD be stretching credulity too far to accept government claims that the round-up of vagrants is not connected with the arrival of visitors for the Miss Universe Pageant. This sudden attack of civic conscience is clearly part of the sprucing-up taking place in areas of the country where contestants and their entourage are likely to visit. Let us hope that when the vagrants are out of sight, they will not be out of mind.
Quotes of the Week
"If I hadn't become a priest, I'd be dead."
pop star (above)
"Is there anything original on television? I have never done anything original."
Matthew Kelly, TV personality
"He had many opportunities to settle this crisis peacefully. But, to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, President Milosevic preferred to settle it his way."
"I don't want to talk to people like you, you're just a crook and a gangster."
Mohamed Al Fayed, businessman, on Talk Radio, taking a call from Neil Hamilton, former Tory MP
"Not everyone will agree with everything we do all the time."
Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Social Security
"At times I feel very sorry for Shirley Porter, not often, of course. Very rarely, in fact.''
Lord MacLaurin, former chairman of Tesco, the business founded by Dame Shirley's father
THE VIEWS OF THE WORLD