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Week of December 1, 1999

Week of December 1, 1999

The U.S. and China This Week



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HONG KONG: Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Party Secures Narrow Margin in Local Elections

SUMMARY:

In the regionís first local elections under Chinese rule, the Hong Kongís Democratic Party gained only slightly more seats than the pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB). The Democrats won 86 of 390 seats as opposed to 83 of 390 for the DAB, the first time since 1997 that the Democrats did not secure substantial elective margins. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa appoints an additional 102 members to the councils, which advise the government on local affairs, ensuring a pro-China majority.

Analysts viewed the elections as both a referendum on the success of the DAB in working to improve living standards during the recession of the last two years and the easing of peopleís fears of excessive Chinese intervention in the region.


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REGIONAL RELATIONS: China Offers Spratly Islands Proposal

SUMMARY:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao offered a new twist in the ongoing ASEAN member discussions regarding development of the Spratly Islands. Although China turned down an ASEAN proposal to regulate conduct in the archipelago during the informal ASEAN weekend summit, it countered with a proposal to develop the islands?resources jointly until the dispute could be resolved. Spokesman Zhuís remarks were made after Premier Zhu Rongjiís arrival in Singapore, the third stop of his four-nation Southeast Asian tour.


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STATE AND SOCIETY: 35,000 Falun Gong Members Detained Since July

SUMMARY:

Communist Party leader Li Lanqing remarked that more than 35,000 members of Falun Gong have been detained since the governmentís initial crackdown on the banned group in mid-July, according to Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China. The Hong Kong-based group noted that Liís speech, given last Friday night in the Great Hall of the People, gave greater detail of the detentions than the state-run media.

Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Li Zhaoxing, condemned a resolution of the U.S. House of Representatives on the Falun Gong movement, reiterating Chinese government claims that the cult-like group has led to the deaths of more than 1,400 people. Some analysts feel that the groupís main challenge to the Chinese government is more its size, organizational ability, and potential attraction to displaced Chinese workers. Ambassador Li, referencing Chinaís emphasis on national sovereignty, called the resolution an example of a "double standard". He noted that while the U.S. Congress condemned Chinese handling of the movement, China raised no objection to the crackdown of the U.S. government and its allies on cults.


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Canada Approves Chinaís WTO Entry

SUMMARY:

China completed one more hurdle necessary for WTO ascension when Canadian Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew and his Chinese counterpart Shi Guangsheng signed a bilateral treaty Friday night. The deal included a cut in tariffs on Canadian exports to China, and increased liberalization in China for financial services. Although the deal was completed before the start of the WTO meeting in Seattle, China must reach agreement with other WTO members, including the European Union.


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US-CHINA: Chinese Approval of US Surveillance Plane Indicates Imminent Thaw in Military Relations

SUMMARY:

Chinaís change of mind over the participation of the Navy P3C Orion, a sophisticated surveillance plane, in search and rescue operations may indicate a normalization in U.S.-Chinese military relations. In the aftermath of the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy last May, the Chinese government had twice denied permission for the Orion to enter Hong Kong airspace for joint maneuvers, organized by Hong Kongís Civil Aviation Department. The decision follows last weeks landmark WTO deal between the two nations.



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