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Europe

European Press Review: China in Space

Papers across the continent weighed in on China's first manned space mission, with some turning their attention to the decision to deploy German peace-keeping troops to Afghanistan.

The French daily Le Figaro, writing about China’s first manned mission in space, asked exactly what Beijing's motives might be. It concluded that in conquering space, too, China was looking to better protect itself and to be able to attack, if necessary – just like Moscow and Washington during the Cold War. It’s spaceship is not designed to improve the human condition and it is no great leap forward, the paper commented. Nor will it help the millions of oppressed Chinese who live in a state of poverty.

Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel noted that America would be watching the Chinese with mixed feelings as the space capsule circled high through the skies above. But, the paper emphasized, the Chinese will also have to learn to live with the risks of their own technology, just as America has to following the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Essen's Neue Ruhr Zeitung noted that the German government has approved a dangerous mission in Afghanistan. The key to peace and success lies in the fight against the narcotics trade, which the paper said is how the warlords earn their money. The paper commented that unless stronger action is taken, German troops protecting schools, hospitals and building roads will have little effect.

The Russian daily Kommersant warned that the ISAF force is sinking deeper into the Afghan conflict. "Soviet troops once stormed Kabul before heading into the provinces -- and we know what happened after that," the paper commented.

Italy’s Il Messaggero expressed its concern about the wave of suicide attacks in Iraq. With one bomb for the CIA and one for the Turks, the paper said the campaign of terror by Saddam Hussein loyalists continues with alarming regularity. The um-teenth bomb in Baghdad has Washington worried as it struggles with the United Nations, the paper wrote.

Britain’s Financial Times also looked at Iraq and Washington’s rewritten UN resolution. In its third attempt, the paper said, the Bush administration has gone a step further, at least mentioning handing over control to the Iraqis. If the resolution passes the Security Council it will be consoling for the countries which have troops in Iraq and money could start flowing for reconstruction, the paper wrote, but it probably will not lead to the fundamental transformation needed to restore security in the country.

Turning to the Balkans, Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung said the time has come for courageous decisions in Kosovo. A new round of talks in Vienna, the first in more than four years, cannot turn back the clock, the paper emphasized. Kosovo is lost for Serbia. Things will never be the same, even if Serb leaders give the impression that they will regain sovereignty over the predominately Muslim province.

Austria’s Der Standard derided the negotiations as just a “photo op.” The paper stated that calling the talks the start of a dialogue is rather optimistic considering the delegations were incomplete and only behaving because UN, European Union and NATO diplomats were present at the negotiating table.