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Week of November 10, 1999

Week of February 18, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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MILITARY: China Claims Russian Destroyers not a threat to Asia

SUMMARY:Last Friday on February 11, China sailed its first of two ordered Sovremenny-class Russian destroyers through the Taiwan Strait to the port of Ningbo. The second destroyer is anticipated to arrive some time this year. Both destroyers are expected to be commissioned into the East Sea fleet and used to patrol China’s coast.

China’s efforts to upgrade its Navy capabilities has reportedly been in response to Washington’s deployment of two aircraft carriers to the Strait in March of 1996. China also has frequently cited its opposition of US attempts to develop a missile defense system, which they believe will be used against China and lead to an arms race.

Although some Taiwan officials fear the destroyers, equipped with anti-air and ship-to-ship missiles, will increase China’s threat to Taiwan’s security and be used to intimidate Taiwan’s March 18th Presidential elections, other officials have expressed a different view. Taiwan’s Chief of General Staff, General Tang Yao-ming, has said, "The single warship will not cause big waves in cross-strait ties."

The US has also reiterated its belief that China’s new naval acquisition will not represent a fundamental threat or alter the region’s balance of power. US State Department spokesman James Rubin said, "We don’t believe that the purchase by China of the ship poses a significant threat to the US military posture in Asia…We are well aware of the developments; we monitor them quite closely."

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FOREIGN RELATIONS: Japan Pushing To Invite China to July G-8 Summit

SUMMARY:Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi recently announced that Tokyo will discuss with other member countries the possible invitation of China to attend the July G-8 summit, to be held in Okinawa. Obuchi stressed that Japan is the only Asian member of the G-8 and that China’s voice as a major power in Asia should be reflected at the meeting. However, there is doubt as to whether or not China, who at most would be able to participate as an observer, wants to attend the summit.

Analysts note that Japan, the world and the regions?largest provider of official development assistance, is using the conference as an opportunity to boost its international image and increase its leadership role in the Asia. China and other Asian countries are not comfortable with the idea of Japan representing their views at the meeting. Like Japan, China is also eager to establish itself as a regional leader and is unlikely to be content in openly taking a back-seat to Japan at the conference. Also, the Asian countries that suffered from Japanese military aggression during World War II are still suspicious of its intentions as a regional leader.

In response to Japan’s initiative, the U.S. State Department has said that it may support China’s participation in an observer role, but made clear that adding China to G-8 membership is a separate issue.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS: North Korea Strengthens Ties With Hong Kong

SUMMARY:On Wednesday, February 16, the Democratic Peoples?Republic of Korea opened a diplomatic mission in Hong Kong. The event coincided with the 58th birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Hong Kong had no relations with North Korea under 156 British rule, however, it began establishing a dialogue with its northern neighbor when China regained control of Hong Kong in July 1997. Consul Song Il-hyok from Pyongyang indicated that the function of the mission was to issue tourist visas, monitor investment opportunities and improve cultural relations. Song refuted suggestions that the new mission could be used to promote illegal activities such as money laundering, drug-trafficking or weapons proliferation. He further stated that the first consul general from North Korea would arrive in Hong Kong ‘soon?

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SOCIETY: Violence-Suicide Bomber in Tiananmen Square

SUMMARY:At 4:00p.m, Tuesday February 15th, a bomb exploded on the east side of Tiananmen Square, near the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The square was closed off for several hours by the People’s Armed Police. Farmer Li Xiangshan, a mentally unstable visitor from the Hubei province, was thought to have set off the bomb, killing himself and injuring a South Korean tourist. Chinese authorities said that Li was a "paranoid madman" who resented the government since he had been fined for tax evasion. He had been in Hubei province for psychiatric evaluation.

Security in Tiananmen Square has been increased due to the suicide bombing and the Falun Gong protests earlier this month. Chinese officials, however, indicated that the bombing was not in fact related to the Falun Gong demonstrations, which have always been peaceful in nature.

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

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