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Week of September 16, 1999

Week of September 16, 1999

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    ETHNIC UNREST/HUMAN RIGHTS: Prominent Uighur Businesswoman Charged with Political Crimes


    As part of a continued crackdown in the Chinese northwestern province of Xinjiang, one of the most prominent businesswomen belonging to China’s Uighur minority has been charged with "illegally offering state secrets across the border." The woman, Rebiya Kadeer is married to Sidik Rouzi, a former Chinese political prisoner, broadcasts for Voice of America and has been critical of China’s treatment of the Uighur minority. There has long been ethnic unrest in the province of Xinjiang, far away from the central authority in Beijing. Uighur separatists have sought to establish an independent state called East Turkestan, which would border three former central Asian republics, as well as Russia and Mongolia.

    In the mid-1990s, Kadeer was portrayed in China as an example of a Uighur ‘rags to riches story,?advancing from laundress to millionaire through hard work and with the help of a gracious government. She gained popularity for encouraging Uighur women to start their own businesses. From 1993 to 1998 she served as an elected member of the provincial People’s Political Consultative Conference. Wang Liquan, the vice governor of Xinjiang, told the press in March 1998 that Rebiya had "failed to explicitly express her opposition to" her husbands anti-Chinese broadcasts. Apparently, she has also been criticized for allowing her sons to leave China and joining her husband in the United States.

    Currently, several hundred thousand Chinese soldiers have been deployed in the region to control and crush the separatist movement. This movement is drastically different from that of the campaign for a separate state in Tibet. The Uighurs have used violent tactics against the Chinese, killing police officers and Chinese settlers and even bombing buses in Beijing. However, their movement is not as organized as that of Tibet, which has a very clearly defined leader, the Dalai Lama.

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    TRADE/WTO: Clinton and Jiang Discuss China’s Entry into the WTO


    At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in Auckland, New Zealand, President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin met for an hour on Saturday, September 12, to help thaw US-China relations. They made no tangible progress toward US approval of China’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization, but did agree to resume negotiations in the near future. White House officials are not predicating vast amounts of progress in the next few days. The Washington Post quoted Clinton’s national economic adviser, Gene Sperling as saying that "Our hope had been that today’s meeting would lead to the resumption of serious negotiations . . . and this was the result. I think that there are enough issues on the table that I would not have significant expectations over the next several days." However, there are also some positive signs. Beijing newspapers the day after the meeting featured pictures of a smiling Clinton and Jiang shaking hands, with no mention of the Embassy bombing in Belgrade.

    Many foreign experts feel that this change in behavior is indicative of how key ties with the United States are in Chinese foreign policy. It is possible that for both strategic and economic reasons, Beijing sees cooperative relations with the United States as the only good alternative. China’s focus at the moment is directed towards economic growth. Chinese leaders agree that entry into the WTO will help create a market-driven economy by introducing the competition needed to exposed the inefficiencies of many state enterprises. The Chinese have already agreed to make sharp cuts in farm and industrial tariffs and to begin opening industries such as automobiles, telecommunications and banking to outside competition.

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    DEFENSE: China’s New Missiles Potential Threat to the United States


    In the midst of public debate over the significance of the allegations of espionage, a recently issued National Intelligence Estimate report that surveys threats facing the United States, predicted that within 15 years, China will be capable aiming missiles at the United States fitted with small nuclear warheads developed in part due to US technology gained through espionage. The report stated that the intelligence community believed Beijing had most likely used the information to accelerate its own program as opposed to simply copying American technology.

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    SOCIETY: Asian Art Collection left to Smithsonian Sackler Gallery


    Dr. Paul Singer, a psychiatrist from New York who died in 1997, left his private collection of ancient Chinese art to the Sackler Gallery. Estimated to be worth $50 to $60 million, Dr. Singer’s collections was one of the leading collections of Chinese art still held privately. Dr. Singer began collecting Asian art at age 17 in Vienna, where he lived until 1938. He emigrated first to London and then to New York, where he continued acquiring Asian art. Unlike many other collectors of Chinese art, Dr. Singer prefered archeological pieces to late porcelains, concentrating on the artifacts of the late Chu state from 700-200BC. Curators at the Sackler Gallery were not surprised that Dr. Singer has bequested this gift, as his intention had always been to donate his collection for public display. Dr. Sackler, who died in 1987, was also a psychiatrist and collector of Asian art.

    SOCIETY: Falun Gong Members hold yet another demonstration and are arrested


    Chinese media reported last week that 19 Falun Gong members held yet another gathering in Beijing to challenge the ban which has been in effect since July 22. All 19 were arrested and held in Beijing, or sent home to face provincial authorities. These arrests and their announcement in the media are believed to be a further warning to Falun Gong members across the country not to continue organized activites.

    US-CHINA RELATIONS: Chinese Ambassador criticizes US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs?comments at CSIS Seminar


    While comments made by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Susan Shirk regarding US-China relations were upbeat, her assessment that the Chinese government’s crackdown on the Falun Gong movement has harmed the country’s internal and international relations was harshly criticized by the speaker who followed her, the Chinese Ambassador.

    In an unprecedented, personal attack, Ambassador Li Zhaoxing rebuked Ms. Shirk. "What do you mean by crackdown? Have you even read the Chinese constitution? Who has given you the right to criticize China? This has gone almost to the height of absurdity. What makes you think you have the right to interfere in China’s internal affairs?"

    For the remainder of his time at the podium, Ambassador Li gave an upbeat account of US-China relations. He cited US-China trade as the source of 400, 000 jobs in the US and over a million in China, and said the US and China have more common ground than they did during the Cold War, when the two countries had a strategic alliance against the Soviet Union.

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