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Week of June 2, 2000

Week of June 2, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week


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INTERNATIONAL: Kim Jong-Il visits Beijing, while China faces continued wave of North Korean refugees

SUMMARY:North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il, spent two days in China during an unpublicized visit to Beijing. Though the North Korean embassy spokeswoman in Beijing originally denied his visit, the Beijing government belatedly confirmed the visit a day after Kim returned home by train. It is believed the visit may have something to do with the upcoming summit meeting between Kim Jong-Il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. China has been North Korea’s closet ally and hopes the summit will ease tension on the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, China hopes the Pyongyang leader will adopt similar market reforms that have improved China’s economy over the past 20 years.

Because the two countries share a large land border, and due to North Korea’s deteriorating social conditions, China has been facing a rising stream of hungry North Korean refugees looking for food. According to aid groups on the border, the Chinese government has stepped up its efforts to return these "food migrants" back home. The estimated number that have been sent back each month has risen to 2,000. Many believe this is due to China’s fear that the refugees will eventually overwhelm their own resources and cause a crisis. However, the North Korean illegal immigrants fear that their forceful return will lead to beatings and jail terms by North Korean’s local public security forces, which see them as traitors for fleeing their country. In fact according to the office of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, many of these "food migrants" could be legally considered protected political refugees due to the persecution they would experience once returned. But so far, despite signed treaties, the Chinese government has not allowed United Nation workers to visit the border region to determine if political refugee status should be declared.


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US POLICY: Pentagon’s Changing Stance Towards Asia

SUMMARY: In an article written by Thomas Ricks, a Washington Post Staff Writer, he explains how the Pentagon has been silently switching their European-centered military focus towards Asia, particularly focusing on China’s rising regional strength.

Specific military shifts have been happening over the last several years. One example includes the Navy’s unannounced redeployment of 50% of its attack boats to the Pacific region. Other changes include "more war games and strategic studies centered on Asia, and more diplomacy aimed at reconfiguring the U.S. military presence in the area."

The Pentagon has tried to downplay its emphasis on the China threat and have instead opted to "warn of the possible rise of an unidentified ‘peer competitor?" However, military exercises, like the Air Force’s annual war game, "will posit ‘a rising large East Asian nation?that is attempting to wrest control of Siberia from a weak Russia."

This Asian focus has also begun to take hold among many American policymakers who see the world’s economy center shifting to Asia. According to Dov S. Zakheim, a former Pentagon official, "China is the new Beltway buzzword." Furthermore, recent cross strait events and the normalization of trade relations with China have added more attention to this area of the world and this trend does not seem to be ending any time soon.


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FOREIGN RELATIONS: First Summit Between Top Chinese and Indian Leaders Since 1998

SUMMARY:Indian President K. R. Narayanan recently traveled to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji as well as other senior leaders. President Narayanan, a former ambassador to Beijing, is the first Indian president to visit China since the nuclear tests conducted by his country in 1998 strained relations between China and India. A component of India’s justification at the time of the nuclear tests was the possible threat of China’s rising power. The summit itself and Chinese leaders?restraint to not bring up the issue during the course of meetings, are the latest indications that both countries are trying to move on and put their bilateral relationship on a healthy course.

In separate meetings with Narayanan, Jiang and Zhu discussed an array of issues, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between China and India for the developing world. Talks concentrated on the resolution of territorial disputes, which have mired the relationship between India and China since a border war was fought between the two countries in 1962. All leaders agreed to speed up efforts to resolve the issue, but neither side gave any concrete suggestions for moving forward.

Also discussed was the position of the Indian government on the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, and the arrival of the 17th Karmapa Lama in India last winter. Narayanan promised not to let either engage in any "anti-China" activities. This issue is troublesome for the Indian leadership, always put in a difficult position between its tradition of supporting Tibetan exiles and a desire to improve relations with Beijing.


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FOREIGN RELATIONS: China’s WTO Entry Tops APEC Summit Preparation Agenda

SUMMARY:At a meeting of 21 senior officials from Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries gathered in Brunei in preparation for the November summit, China’s forthcoming accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was the major topic of discussion. APEC members discussed the benefits they will receive from China’s consequent liberalization because of historically close ties. While China’s entry into WTO is not on the formal agenda for the November summit, it is expected to be a major issue when discussion focuses on how APEC can contribute to the WTO’s agenda.

APEC officials were supportive of last week’s U.S. House of Representative’s passage of the legislation on permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), claiming it will positively impact China by helping it to implement WTO obligations and place China in a leadership role among APEC countries as host of next year’s summit.


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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Senators Claim Vote on PNTR Legislation Could Be Delayed

SUMMARY:A week after the House of Representatives passed legislation to extend permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China, several senators claim that they may delay the Senate vote expected to take place in June. While extending PNTR to China has broad bipartisan support in the Senate and is expected to pass without difficulty, many Senators still have major reservations human and labor rights and environmental issues in China, as well as Beijing’s weapons proliferation. Aside from reservations about China’s record on controversial issues, several Republicans are still leery of President Bill Clinton’s attempt to pin down the legislation as part of his legacy.

In a recent CNN interview, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested more simple reason that due to a scheduling issue posed by a heavy workload and slow progress on appropriations bills, the Senate may not get around to voting on PNTR this year. Senator McConnell, a supporter of PNTR, said that he would be in favor of passing the legislation "right after he [the President] signs the last appropriations bill," which could make PNTR "the first accomplishment of the next administration." The real potential for postponement of the Senate vote on PNTR is still uncertain.


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SOCIETY: Chinese Dissidents Begins Annual Campaign

SUMMARY:In the days leading to the 11th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations and massacre, numerous Chinese dissidents started their annual campaign to get the government to reverse the "counter-revolutionary" verdict on the democracy protests. Many dissidents, including Wang, a member of the outlawed China Democracy Party and Cheng Fan, a former 1989 student leader, wrote letters to Chinese President Jiang Zemin calling for China to push political and democratic reform.


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

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