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Week of March 24, 2000

Week of March 24, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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TAIWAN ELECTIONS: Chen Shuibian Wins Taiwan’s Presidential Elections

SUMMARY:On March 18th Chen Shuibian, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won Taiwan’s second Presidential election ending the Kuomintang’s 51 years of rule. Although the DPP’s platform has been pro-independence, Chen has softened his stance and has suggested a visit to Beijing in order to restart cross-strait dialogues. However, Chen still insisted that the Chinese Mainland treat Taiwan as an equal. He will take over as President in May.

Because of the poor results for KMT candidate Vice President Lien Chan in the elections, angry protesters demonstrated outside the Nationalist Party’s headquarters and demanded Lee Tenghui’s resignation from his party. Lee agreed and will resign in September. Many of the protesters blame Lee for fielding a weak candidate which allowed Chen to win.

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CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS: Taiwan Makes Gesture of Goodwill to China

SUMMARY:In the wake of the second presidential elections in Taiwan last week, both Taiwan’s parliament and president elect Chen Shui-bian from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have made symbolic gestures to Beijing in order to decrease cross-strait tensions. The parliament has ended a 51-year ban on direct trade, transport, and postal links between offshore islands and Chinese cities across the strait. This development is seen as a first step towards direct links between Taiwan and the China, a move welcomed by businesses on both sides of the strait. Trade and investment currently flowing from Taiwan is mostly done through Hong Kong.

In the meantime, the DPP announced that it plans to remove a clause from its party platform, which disturbs Beijing the most. Currently, the DPP party platform includes a clause stating that it advocates the establishment of the "Republic of Taiwan" as an independent nation. Chen Zau-nan, a member of the DPP’s Central Executive Committee, suggested that it might be replaced with a phrase indicating that Taiwan is an "sovereign independent country." Beijing has for many years criticized the DPP, claiming that there is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of it. While this development is still controversial for Beijing, it does remove what Chinese leaders considered the most disputed phrase of the DPP constitution.

Analysts are currently speculating about the implications of these gestures and the possibility that Chen Shui-bian’s recent victory might result in closer rather than more distant relations between Taiwan and mainland China.

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HUMAN RIGHTS: U.S. and China at Odds Over U.N. Human Rights Resolution

SUMMARY: As President Clinton proceeded on his sweeping tour of South Asia this week, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright took an out-of-the-way detour to the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on Monday, in order to attend a meeting of the Commission on Human Rights, where questions concerning human rights in China were the main issue at hand. Secretary of State Albright identified what she contends are widespread breaches of religious and political freedoms throughout China, with particular emphasis on the recent crackdown on the activities of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Chinese officials objected to the possibility of a U.N. human-rights resolution condemning the crackdown, and many Chinese delegates did not attend Albright’s address. However, Chinese Ambassador Quiao Zonghuai did respond to the allegations, asserting that Falun Gong is an "evil cult" which is dangerous for its millions of members as well as for the national welfare. Approximately 350 Falun Gong members were present in Geneva, and held silent demostrations outside of the U.N. headquarters during the negotiations. China is one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and the charges added a great deal of tension to the meeting. Many believe, however, that the U.N. human rights resolution will pass this year, despite China’s successful lobbying efforts among developing countries to block its passage.

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

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