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Week of December 8, 1999

Week of December 8, 1999

The U.S. and China This Week



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STATE AND SOCIETY: Falun Gong Criticism, Dissident Detention Trouble US-Chinese Relations

SUMMARY:

Human rights issues remained a contentious issue in bilateral relations this week, as China protested the United State’s criticism of its treatment of Falun Gong members and other religious and ethnic groups. A Tuesday press conference by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue criticized a Monday speech by President Clinton concerning the detention of Falun Gong sect members and a U.S. government decision to extend a ban on crime control and detection equipment exports. The decision followed a September State Department report critical of Chinese government mistreatment of Tibetan monks, underground Christians, and Muslim Uighurs.

On Monday, the U.S. embassy conveyed a strong protest to the Chinese government over the alleged detention and beating of a Chinese dissident. Fu Sheng, a member of the Chinese Democracy Party, said that he was detained and maltreated by Chinese officials after meeting with a U.S. diplomat responsible for monitoring human rights.


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HONG KONG: Hong Kong Court Reverses Right of Abode Decision to Follow Beijing Lead

SUMMARY:

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal reversed its previous January ruling on the right-of abode controversy to follow Beijing’s interpretation of the region’s Basic Law. Last June, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruled that residency rights granted under Basic Law applied only to children whose parents were Hong Kong citizens when the child was born; not to any children of citizens (as the initial court ruling interpreted the law). Although the court battle involved the fate of only 17 potential migrants from mainland China to the territory, the ruling affects up to an estimated 1.6 million people. The Hong Kong government had requested the reinterpretation, fearing a deluge of migrants. The reversal marks the first occasion that Beijing has overridden the Hong Kong courts; giving rise to fears of increased intervention and interference in the region. Hong Kong officials have vowed that the precedent will be used very sparingly.


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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: China Sponsors UN Anti-Missile Defense Resolution

SUMMARY:

The U.N. General Assembly voted last Wednesday in favor of a draft resolution jointly sponsored by Russia, China and Belarus, calling for strengthening of the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. The draft, opposed by the United States, urges the United States to relinquish plans to amend the treaty in order to allow deployment of the anti-ballistic missile system. Russia and China have repeatedly warned that any attempts to alter the existing treaty would destabilize existing nuclear stability and set off a new arms race.

Meanwhile, military experts have speculated China may be about to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of striking the United States. The Julang 2’s estimated range of up to 12,000 kilometers, according to the Monday Washington Times newspaper, would give China second strike capabilities in the event of nuclear war.


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ECONOMY: China Contemplates Key WTO-Related Reforms

SUMMARY:

As a World Bank official predicted that China would lock in its official growth target of 7 percent for 1999, it faces the implementation of several key reforms as part of its bid to join the WTO. Vice Minister of Foreign Trade Sun Zhenyu remarked in the China Economic Times last Tuesday that China would open up to increased foreign investment in trade and services. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) fell 10.5 percent this year after a record high in 1998.

A report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences called for the government to permit private and foreign institutions to buy into China’s four large state-run commercial banks. Although this restructuring would allow the banks to prepare for the direct foreign competition agreed to under last month’s WTO agreement, the Chinese government is not yet ready to move beyond examination of the proposal.

To aid China in preparing for these reforms, The World Bank announced that its assistance strategy to China will move toward structural reform in social, banking and private enterprise sectors. Its funding would be decreased over the next three years from $3 million to $2 million.



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