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Week of April 21, 2000

Week of April 21, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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TAIWAN: U.S. Weapons Package to Taiwan Criticized

SUMMARY:The Clinton Administration approved sales of a high-tech weapons package to Taiwan as part of the annual Pentagon review of military equipment sales to the island. The deal signed off by the Administration includes advanced air-to-air and anti-ship missiles as well as a "Pave Paws" long-range radar system that can monitor ballistic missiles thousands of miles into mainland China. However, the White House decision to postpone the sale of four Aegis destroyers requested by Taiwan, which cost $1.1 billion and has the capability of tracking more than 100 missiles and aircraft at one time, is a major disappointment to many pro-Taiwan Members of Congress.

Many congressional critics of the Administration’s approval of the package without the Aegis destroyers, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, believe that it reflects submission to pressure from Beijing to decrease U.S. weapon sales to Taiwan. Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe, the Pentagon official responsible for handling the arms sales request from Taiwan, defended the decision not to include the destroyers, claiming the package as sufficiently robust.

The Administration’s approval is considered to be a compromise between helping Taiwan militarily (as it has continued to do according to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979) and not overtly provoking Beijing during an especially sensitive time in cross-Taiwan Strait relations. While China maintains its sovereignty over Taiwan, the recent victory of pro-independence candidate Chen Shui-bian in the March presidential elections is a serious concern for Beijing. Chinese leaders fear that continued U.S. sales of high-tech weaponry will make reunification with China more difficult.

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DOMESTIC AFFAIRS: Three Falungong Followers Die in Jail

SUMMARY:Three more members of the banned Falungong spiritual group died in jail from beatings and a hunger strike. According to a Hong Kong rights group, this brings the total number of deaths in police custody up to at least 15.

The Information Center on Human Rights said the three members who died were: Li Yanhua, 46, died from heart failure due to her prolonged 11-day hunger strike; Guan Zhaosheng was apparently killed from severe beatings and his family compensated $1,200 for the death. However, government sources claim his death was due to his refusal to take medicine and denied giving any monetary compensation; and Zhang Zhengnag, 36, was said by the Information Center, to have fallen into a coma after he was beaten by police, taken to a hospital for five-days, then cremated before he was officially pronounced dead. The government has disputed some of those claims, saying some committed suicide or died of natural causes, not because of police mistreatment.

The spiritual group that advocates clean living and practices meditation and breathing exercises, was banned in July 1999 after 10,000 members peacefully protested around Zhongnanhai Chinese Communist Headquarters on April 25, 1999. That demonstration caught officials off-guard and caused them later to state that the group was the biggest threat to its rule since monstrations in 1989. The Chinese government has also labeled the Falungong group as a dangerous cult, similar to the ‘Ten Commandments Of God?cult in Uganda, the ‘Aum Shinryko?cult of Japan, and the ‘American Branch Davidians?

The group, led by exiled leader Li Hongzhi, claims 100 million followers world wide and around 80 million in China. It is believed 60 other imprisoned Falungong members began a hunger strike on April 4.

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HUMAN RIGHTS: China not Condemned by U.N. Human Rights Commission

SUMMARY:On April 18, the Geneva based U.N. Human Rights Commission voted 22 to 18 against a United States resolution that criticized China’s human rights record; 12 nations abstained.

The defeat came after the State Department issued an annual report on human rights in China, which claimed China’s "poor human rights record" as having "deteriorated markedly" throughout 1999. The report specifically referred to the crack down and jailing of members of the spiritual Falungong group and "extremely limited tolerance of public dissent aimed at the government, fear of unrest and the limited scope or inadequate implementation of law protecting basic freedoms."

In an effort to get support for the vote, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright personally went to Geneva in order to give an impassioned speech to the U.N Commission. This was the first appearance by a secretary of state before the body, officials have said.

The Beijing government, which takes the human rights vote very seriously, denounced the resolution as "an anti-China political farce directed by the United State alone."

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

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