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Week of June 16, 2000

Week of June 16, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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HONG KONG: Jiang Zemin to Hold Talks With Hong Kong Business Leaders on China’s WTO Entry

SUMMARY:Chinese President Jiang Zemin is scheduled to meet with 40 Hong Kong business tycoons in Beijing to discuss the impact of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Hong Kong. Li Ka-shing, the property and telecommunications magnate who was recently voted Asia’s most powerful man by Asiaweek Magazine, will lead the delegation. This meeting is an attempt by the Chinese government to strengthen relations and cooperation with the Hong Kong business community prior to China’s WTO entry. Many in the Hong Kong business community are concerned about how China’s WTO entry will change its role as a major point of passage for trade between China and other countries. While relations between the Chinese leadership and Hong Kong business leaders have been relatively positive since the return to Chinese rule in 1997, official talks in Beijing have been unusual.

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: House Appropriations Committee Votes Against Funding for China WTO Compliance Measures

SUMMARY:The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted 29-24 against proposed funding of $21.2 million by President Bill Clinton for measures to monitor China’s compliance with the 1999 U.S.-China trade agreement and World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations. These measures, introduced by Commerce Secretary William Daley as a push for Members of the House prior to the vote on permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China in May, were a key ingredient in the Administration’s gathering of sufficient support in the House for the PNTR legislation’s passage. They include plans for "accelerated investigations" of future trade complaints and a "rapid response team" to follow China’s compliance efforts.

While the terms of the U.S.-China trade agreement will not be affected by this development, the ability of the United States to enforce China’s compliance would be affected. Appropriation’s Committee ranking Democrat David Obey of Wisconsin and other supporters pushed hard for the funding. However, a majority of committee members sited the tight budget as the reason for voting against compliance efforts, giving priority instead to domestic matters such as crime fighting and prison construction. Administration officials have vowed to continue pushing for the funding and implementation of the compliance measures considered vital for China’s successful inclusion into the WTO.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS: Chinese Leaders Praise Korean Summit, Deny Cross-Strait Parallel

SUMMARY:The Chinese foreign ministry praised the historic summit between North and South Korea which brought together leaders of the two Korean nations for the first time, resulting in a Joint-Declaration which symbolizes the first step towards thawing hostile relations existing between the two sides for half a century. After the two days of meetings between South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, the Ministry encouraged both nations to sustain cooperative efforts for an eventual peaceful reunification.

While expressing its support of the development on the Korean Peninsula, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao was careful to dismiss parallels drawn with the cross- Taiwan Straits, where Beijing has and continues to fervently push for reunification with a reluctant Taiwan under the principle of "one-China." When asked by reporter if China would soften its insistence on Taiwan to accept the "one-China" policy for negotiations to take place as a reconciliatory measure as is taking place between the two Koreas, Zhu clearly stated that "there is no room for compromise."

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INTERNATIONAL: China Angered by Recent U.S. Actions

SUMMARY:China slammed the U.S. this week for sending a cabinet-level official to Taiwan and for it proposed weapons sale to the island.

Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater attended an annual economic conference this week in Taipei, that was hotly opposed by China who opposes any official contacts between the Taiwan government and Beijing’s diplomatic partners. Zhu Bangzao, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, stated that such a visit was an "erroneous act" which infringed upon China’s sovereignty. However, the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) quoted Slater as saying, "President Clinton and Vice President Gore firmly believe that transportation is the crucial link in enabling free trade to contribute to prosperity through the world in the century and the new millennium."

Also this week Zhu Bangzao criticized Washington’s proposed $356 million dollar weapons sale to Taiwan, which would include 39 sets of aircraft parts. Zhu said, "The erroneous act of the U.S. government has severely violated the commitments made in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués and infringed upon the sovereignty of China."

The U.S. has remained Taiwan’s largest trading partner, absorbing 25% of the island’s exports and continues to be Taiwan’s leading arms supplier. Although the U.S has promised to "gradually" end weapons sales to the island, Taiwan bought $8.4 billion worth of weapons from the U.S. over the years, including 150 U.S. F-16 fighters, 60 French Mirage 2000-5s. 130 locally developed indigenous defensive fighters, and seven Perry class frigates. (Agence France presse, 2000)

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DOMESTIC: China Sets Limits on its Press

SUMMARY:On June 14 China announced new measures to control press freedom and warned all media that their work must stay in line with the ideology of China’s ruling communist party.

A unnamed Chinese Party spokesman declared that an "alarm system on violations of discipline and regulations in the press" will be set up to ensure the press will "support the leading position of Marxist-Leninism, Mao Zedong thought and the theories of Deng Xiaoping." "The propaganda work of press must hold high the party banner, safeguard unity, encircle the center, serve the overall situation, promote the opening of reform and support social stability."

This crackdown on the press was first announced in April after Xu Guangchun, Vice Minister of Publicity, criticized the media for failing to speak for the party, but instead focused on stories that featured corruption and revealed state and military secrets. Xu said, "To correctly guide public opinion and positively lead the ideology of the people through news propaganda is the fundamental task of news propaganda and is the basic responsibility of every newspaper."

China’s newspaper market has grown markedly since the country began economic reforms 20 years ago. Many small newspapers and local papers have replaced propagandized, centralized news with colorful articles and stories that deal with lawlessness in China and other racy topics.

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DOMESTIC: China’s Health Concerns

SUMMARY:Senior officials in China have stated concern over the country’s failing medical system, while local officials believe that reforming this system will be difficult and may take a long time.

Vice Premier Li Lanqing, during an inspection in Chongqing, Sichuan "discussed the urgent need to make health care affordable, improve service quality, introduce competition and allow patients freedom to choose their doctors and even their pharmacists." (AM SGT) According to Li, one way to improve the situation is to "introduce competition to every level of our medical system so the patients can choose their hospitals, doctors and even drug stores." However many, like Vice-Governor Li Lanfang, feel that the provincial medical systems are chaotic and many hospitals worry more about their bottom line than they do about their patients?needs. This is not good news, especially after Dr. Zheng Yi of the Academy of Sciences has declared that China is facing an AIDS epidemic if steps are not immediately taken to fight the disease. Dr. Zheng said, "If [an epidemic would ensure], China will become the country with the highest AIDS population. This will bring us national disaster."

Although the government would like to keep the number of people with AIDS under 1.5 million by 2010, particular action like better education and medical research must take place. According to Vice-minister of Health, Wang Longde, China currently has 18,143 registered HIV carriers. However the Xinhua news agency who reported these numbers added that the number of carriers could really be has high as 600,000.

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

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