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Week of October 20, 1999

Week of October 20, 1999

The U.S. and China This Week


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WORLD POLITICS: The NATO Bombing Rumor

SUMMARY:

This week, a British Newspaper ran an article suggesting that the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was intentional. According to certain sources, the Yugoslav army was suspected of using the Chinese embassy for communication purposes after its own methods were destroyed during the bombings. U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright denied any linkage and reiterated, "That was a bombing by accident…a tragic accident." Regarding the Chinese intelligence activities, she responded that there was clear evidence of its occurrence but that it was not linked to the mistaken bombing. China responded to these allegations by denying any part in aiding the Yugoslav army during the Kosovo crisis. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman linked this new rumor to the Alliance attempting to place partial blame on the Chinese for the mistaken bombing.

This newest rumor is one of many that has circulated regarding the mistaken bombing of the Chinese embassy. Though it is rather difficult to believe that such technologically advanced nations used out of date maps, it is even more frightening to believe that they can make such a huge mistake. Perhaps, that is why people prefer the conspiracy theories. To their way of thinking, it is far better for such a destructive event to have been intentional, rather than a mistake. No matter what caused this mistaken bombing, clearly the U.S. and China must work hard to repair the damage it has wrought upon their relationship.


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CHINESE POLITICS: Issues for China

SUMMARY:

In a recent speech before he left to visit Britain, President Jiang Zemin cited population as his largest problem in the coming years. He promised to continue economic development and open China further to the outside world; but stressed that though many achievements had been made in the past 50 years, the effect on the individual's life was quite small. According to Jiang, China’s key objective for 2050 is to "achieve modernization by and large" and become an advance socialist society. The country will move from a planned to a market economy within this time frame. As such, a key component of Jiang’s speech focused on resolving domestic concerns.

Jiang also touched upon the improvement in U.S.-China relations after the severe damage caused by the NATO bombing, saying that his meeting with Clinton last month was an important step in improving ties. He cautioned that U.S. interference in the Taiwan issue, specifically its continuing sale of arms to Taiwan, could be detrimental to U.S. China relations. This warning comes at a time when the U.S. Congress is discussing, the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, a bill to allow new exports of U.S. arms to Taiwan.

Regarding Taiwan, he said China’s stance was for a "peaceful reunification of one country, two systems." Though he did not rule out the use of force, he explained that it would not be directed at Taiwan, but at foreign powers that tried to interfere in this domestic matter. China hopes that the successful transition of Hong Kong will prove to Taiwan that the "one country, 2 systems" is a viable option. In reference to Tibet, President Jiang said China would be willing to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama if the Dalai Lama would recognize Taiwan and Tibet as permanent parts of the PRC. On this point, he added how China had modernized Tibet and invested $241.6 million every year into developing that region. Thus, Jiang once again expressed the country’s firm stance regarding Taiwan and Tibet as parts of China that will never be relinquished.


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SOCIETY & POLITICS: Beijing Parliament Discusses Outlawing "Cults"

SUMMARY:

In a circular passed jointly by the Communist party and the State Council in July of 1999, the Falungong sect was banned and labeled an "illegal organization." This circular is as enforceable as law and ironically may have been in direct response to a Falungong protest outside Zhongnanhai. This protest was organized in response to the rumored ban of the religious group and approximately 10,000 members participated. The large scale protest may have actually pushed the government to ban the religion as it reinforced governmental fears of political instability. The government believes that Falungong weakens social stability and threatens political stability in China.

On October 25, the Chinese parliament will meet and discuss legislation to prevent and crack down on religious "cults" such as the Falungong. This legislative proposal comes on the heels of last week’s State Council circular regarding the purging of Falungong members from the government. This circular states that if a civil servant refuses to stop practicing Falungong said person can be punished by demoted or loss job. Thus, the Falungong issue continues to remain in the forefront of Chinese politics.

In the international arena, many countries are concerned over China’s persecution of Falungong members. After the U.S. State Department publishes its first report on international religious freedoms, there are rumors that China is among 7 countries that may face sanctions. These sanctions would be in response to China’s record of religious persecution especially, in light of the past year’s Falungong crackdown.



The U.S. and China This Week
The U.S. and China This Week

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