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Week of June 23, 2000

Week of June 23, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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CROSS STRAIT RELATIONS: Chen Calls for Summit with China

SUMMARY:Inspired by Koreaís recent successful summit meeting, Taiwanís President Chen Shuibian offered a similar invitation to hold a summit with Jiang Zemin. During an afternoon news conference Chen said, "I sincerely invite the leader of the Chinese Communists, Mr. Jiang Zemin, to join hands and work to create a moment like the handshake between North and South Korea." "I believe leaders of the two sides of the straits have wisdom and originality to rewrite history and create history." Chen also went on to say that Taiwan might back Beijingís bid to host the 2008 Olympic and offered to co-host some sports events.

Beijingís reaction to the olive branch was cold. China still maintains the right to invade Taiwan if it declares independence. Furthermore, Beijing tightly holds on to itís "one China" policy, which states that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. Taipei, on the other hand, believes under the 1992 negotiated verbal agreement that the "one China" policy would be accepted, but interpreted somewhat differently by both sides.

Forming a consensus between the two sides has been difficult. Chen said, "If there was a consensus, it was to agree to disagree." However, Chen stated his belief that both Taipei and Beijing have the "wisdom" and "creativity" to come up with a definition of "one China" that would be acceptable to both parties

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DOMESTIC: 58 Suspected Chinese Stowaways Found Died

SUMMARY:On Sunday in Dover, England, during a routine customs check, 58 corpses of Asian origin, believed to be Chinese, were found in a tomato truck. The cause of their deaths has not yet been determined, but many suspect suffocation or carbon monoxide poisoning due to the high summer temperatures and little or no ventilation in the cargo space they were held. Two individuals did survive the ordeal and are being treated for shock.

This discovery has tragically helped to highlight the on-going and perilous attempts of thousands of Chinese who illegally sneak into other countries. According to the Hong Kong based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, last year government documents estimated around 500,000 people tried to illegally China. Most are men in their 20ís and 30ís and most come from well-off families able to afford the 10 percent down payment to migrant traffickers called "snakeheads". The going rate for passage to Europe is around $25,000, while passage to the United States is higher at $40,000. It is believed these "snakeheads" make billions of dollars each year smuggling Chinese, and are not discouraged by the short-term jail punishment if caught.

The reasons many Chinese give for fleeing their country range from religious and political persecution to Chinaís one-child policy. However, most state their desire to make money and become rich. They are attracted by exaggerated promises of well-paid jobs and better living standards.

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DOMESTIC: Over Hundred Feared Died After Ferry Sinks

SUMMARY:On Thursday morning around 7 a.m. a ferry leaving Luzhouís Heijiang port overturned, said Cao Ling, a river navigation official. The accident happened in heavy fog and investigators believe "the accident was caused by turbulent wave and overload," Chinaís Xinhua News Agency reported.

The ferry was overloaded with around 200 people. Only 20 people have been rescued, leaving about 180 people missing and feared dead. It is the second capsizing in the region with in 10 days.

Early this year, China stepped up efforts to improve itís poor safety record after a string of boat accidents claimed 769 lives in 1999.

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Albright Makes Stop in China, Focuses on North Korea

SUMMARY: A week after the historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Madeliene Albright is visiting Northeast Asia, making stops in Beijing and Seoul. During her trip, Albright hopes to get a better sense of the implications of the negotiations which recently took place in Pyongyang and of the future role of the United States in East Asian security.

Albright was expected to push Chinese leaders for more information on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, his economic policies, and prospects for true commitment for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Albrightís talks with her Chinese counterparts comes just a few days after the Clinton administration lifted a 50-year embargo on trade with North Korea. North Korea responded by extended a moratorium on missile flight tests. It is expected that there will soon be an announcement on the visit of a high-level North Korean official to Washington DC to further open-up dialogue between the two countries.

Aside from North Korea, other issues to be raised by Albright include Taiwan President Chen Shui-bianís recent overtures for peace across the Taiwan Straits. Chinese leaders are expected to bring up and criticize the controversial U.S. plans for National Missile Defense (NMD) and Theater Missile Defense (TMD) in Asia.

Albrightís trip is of particular significance as she is the most senior U.S. official to visit China since the U.S./NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade last spring. Her visit in Beijing is thought be a reaffirmation of the improvement in Sino-U.S. ties since that time.

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: U.S. and China Sign First Anti-Drug Agreement

SUMMARY:On June 20, the United States and China signed the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement, the first law enforcement agreement ever made between the two countries. The pact, signed during a three-day visit to China by U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey, is expected to lead to U.S. training of Chinese drug officers and usage of U.S. equipment in controlling drug trafficking in China. It is a step that will bring greater cooperation between police agencies in each country than ever before.

The agreement is thought to be particularly important at this time when China is experiencing a great boom in heroin and methamphetamine use. In addition, many provinces in China, such as the southwestern province of Yunnan, are being used as drug smuggling routes from Southeast Asia to the United States.

While historically there has been mistrust between security services in the United States and China, the anti-drug agreement signified that despite occasional tensions in bilateral relations over various issues, the two countries have been willing to work together on some important issues which require serious attention.

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

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