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Week of February 4, 2000

Week of February 4, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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FOREIGN RELATIONS: Congress Prepares for Vote on Taiwan

SUMMARY:The United States House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act on February 1. The bill, supported by many congressional Republicans, would expand military cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan. It would establish direct military communication between Washington and Taipei and increase U.S. military training of Taiwanese officers.

The bill is strongly opposed by the Clinton administration because of the potential for increased tension in the Taiwan Straits. Also, the bill could create unwanted setbacks in Sino-U.S. ties, which have recently been improving after NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia last year. Chinese officials have stated that the bill could destabilize Sino-U.S. relations if it is passed. The vote, which was initially planned to take place last fall, was postponed in order to keep negotiations on-track between the U.S. and Chinese trade officials on conditions for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Congress is waiting for China and its major trading partners to conclude trade talks before they vote on agreements on normal trade relations (NTR) signed with China last November. However, Republicans who think Clinton has been too "soft" on China have been pushing for the Taiwan vote. The successful passage of the Taiwan bill in the House and the Senate and the destabilization of Sino-U.S. relations could create complications for the upcoming vote on NTR and for China’s entry into the WTO.

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POLITICS: Presidential Candidate in Taiwan Speaks of Peace with China

SUMMARY:In a recent interview, Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Chen Shui-bian, one of the front-runners in the upcoming presidential election on March 18, expressed that he does not rule out reunification with mainland China in the future. Furthermore, he claimed that if he was elected that if elected he would not include the "state to state " concept in Taiwan’s constitution and that he would be willing to make a peace agreement with China which would include the possibility of eventual reunification. He also expressed interest in establishing direct contact, including trade relations, which has been nonexistent since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Since current Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui’s comments last July declaring the relation between Taiwan and China as "state to state," tensions have escalated between Beijing and Taipei. China has regarded Lee’s assertion as a movement towards an independent Taiwan and away from reunification with the mainland. Beijing claims it will respond with force should Taiwan ever formally declare independence. Adding to the mounting tension is the upcoming presidential election, which Beijing is monitoring candidates? stances on Taiwan’s relationship with the mainland. Candidate Chen’s remarks are seen by some observers as an attempt to diffuse some of the pressure surrounding the upcoming event and to distinguishing himself from the extreme rhetoric of President Lee.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS: China Furious Over Conference on Nanjing Massacre

SUMMARY:China’s foreign ministry and state-run media unleashed criticism of a recent forum held by Japanese right-wing activists who denied the occurrence of the Nanjing Massacre of 1937. The event titled, "The Verification of the Rape of Nanjing: The Biggest Lie of the 20th Century," was attended by some 250 activists in Osaka, Japan. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhu Bangzao issued a statement expressing China’s condemnation of the forum, claiming that it had "disturbed the growth of Sino-Japanese relations." People’s Daily and Xinhua news agency reports blamed Japan’s supreme court, the central government in Tokyo, and local authorities in Osaka for allowing the event to occur.

The Japanese government has distanced itself from the conference. However, the foreign ministry has made a point of reiterating its official position that Japan regrets its wartime atrocities in China and that it acknowledges the Nanjing Massacre as a historical fact. Japan’s wartime atrocities in China during World War II continue to be a source of tension between the two countries. China is still upset that Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi did not issue a written statement of apology for the atrocities during President Jiang Zemin’s visit to Japan in 1998.

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SOCIETY: China To Implement New Internet Regulations

SUMMARY:The Chinese government is taking measures to tighten its control over information on the Internet in China. This action comes after the State Bureau of Secrecy recently determined that the rapid increase in Internet usage in China has led to irresponsible usage and a leakage of "state secrets." The new regulations will require all previously unreleased content and newly created Web sites to receive authorization from the bureau. Web site owners and e-mail account holders can be found liable for transmitting any secret information via the Interet and could be severely penalized. In addition, private companies operating domestically, including foreign firms, must reveal their encryption software to the bureau.

This movement has created insecurity and uncertainty among individuals and companies. In China, the term "state secret" is very broad and difficult to define. Also, corporations fear that revealing their encryption codes could potentially compromise the protection of sensitive internal information, and ultimately scare off many foreign companies from China. The government action is thought in part to be a response to the Falun Gong movement and to political dissidents who have used the Internet as a means of communication and dissemination of information.

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

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