John Pomfret writes in his blog on the Washington Post site:
While its propaganda machine might be sounding a little shrill lately, China’s foreign policy is hitting all the right notes. In the past few weeks, President Hu Jintao has met twice with leading politicians from Taiwan following the election of Ma Ying-jeou. First Hu met with VP-elect Vincent Siew and then with KMT bigwig Lien Chan. There’s a good possibility that the two sides will move a lot closer — setting up direct flights and freight services — once Ma takes power on May 20 and Taiwan’s both incompetent and ideologically rigid president, Chen Shui-bian, leaves. Good for China and Taiwan.
What’s more, last week, Hu spent five days in Japan using “smile” diplomacy with China’s Asian nemesis. By all accounts, it was a pretty successful trip, a stark contrast to complete disaster that occurred when Hu’s predecessor Jiang Zemin visited Japan in 1998 and gave a screaming lecture about history. The lecture played well in China but not anywhere else. China and Japan have reason to buddy up. Last year, China replaced the US as Japan’s biggest export market – a trend that isn’t going to change.
Then, last weekend in Shenzhen, lower ranking Chinese officials met with representatives of the Dalai Lama. They’ve agreed to keep talking. No one expects this to go anywhere, but it’s a whole lot better than yelling at each other via the media.