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Week of July 28, 2000

Week of July 28, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Senate Takes Up China Trade Bill

SUMMARY: Ending weeks of uncertainty, the Senate took up a landmark China trade bill. Although a final vote on the trade bill will not be held until September, Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) cleared the way for a preliminary vote this week. The move eased the concerns of the White House and major corporations that further delay threatened to embroil the trade legislation in election-year politics.

The trade bill, which the House approved in May, would end the annual congressional review of China's trade status and grant the Beijing government permanent normal trade relations as part of its accession to the World Trade Organization. The proposal has overwhelming support in the Senate and is expected to pass easily.

Lott’s decision to call up the bill puts the Senate on track toward holding a final vote shortly after it returns to Washington on Sept. 5. With a handful of Democratic and Republican opponents planning delaying tactics, the next step is a preliminary vote which will come Friday--or even late Thursday--to limit the first phase of debate. It also will provide an indication of the size of the majority in support of the bill.

The Clinton administration welcomed Lott's decision. "I'm pleased to see the process move forward. Prompt action is essential if the U.S. is to benefit from China's accession to the WTO," said Charlene Barshefsky, the U.S. trade representative.

The only hitch is a proposal by Sen. Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) calling for sanctions against China and U.S. companies if they are found to be engaged in weapons proliferation. Thompson is threatening to offer his proposal as an amendment to the trade bill which, if approved, would force another vote in the House--something the administration does not want.

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS:China Slams U.S. Congress Resolution on Jailed Uighur

SUMMARY: China issued a strong rebuke to the US Congress over a resolution calling for the release from jail of a prominent Uighur dissident. A foreign ministry statement said the non-binding resolution passed by the House of Representatives on Monday demanding the freedom of Rebiya Kadeer was unwarranted interference in China's internal affairs. "The House of Representatives neglected the basic norms of international relations, passed a so-called resolution and used irresponsible words for handing this case. This is brutal interference in China's internal affairs. The Chinese side expresses firm opposition to this."

Kadeer was sentenced to eight years in prison in March for "illegally passing intelligence outside of China" and China's legal authorities have so far refused to rule on her appeal. Family members are concerned about the health of the 54-year old businesswomen and fear a heart condition has deteriorated after nearly a year without medical treatment, according to human rights groups. The Congress resolution called for the release of Kadeer, her son and secretary. All three were jailed for allegedly sending clippings of public newspapers out of Xinjiang.

Tensions between the majority Muslim population, most of them Turkic-speaking Uighurs, and the ruling Han Chinese government have long plagued Xinjiang. China's official press has reported that at least eight Muslim separatists have been executed in Xinjiang in the past two months.

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INTERNATIONAL: Asian Giants Hold Border Talks

SUMMARY: India and China have begun talks to resolve border disputes that have hampered relations between the two countries for many years. The talks come ahead of a visit by the Indian President, KR Narayanan, to Beijing next month to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan arrived here Friday for the highest-ranking visit by a Beijing official since India's 1998 nuclear tests which shook up bilateral ties. Ahead of Tang's visit, his deputy Wang Yi said in Beijing: "China has no intention of waging confrontationist policy with India through military aid to Pakistan." For New Delhi, Tang's visit marks the latest stage of fence-mending diplomacy with Beijing following the nuclear tests, and a fresh opportunity to redefine a relationship dogged by decades of mistrust and Cold War alliances.

China holds about 20% of territory in the disputed region of Kashmir - land that India claims as its own. And China lays claim to the northeast Indian state to Arunachal Pradesh, while challenging Indian sovereignty over Sikkim.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Tibetan exiles took to the streets of Delhi in protest against the talks. "It is absolutely apparent ... that China has no boundary with India," the Tibetan Freedom Movement said in an open letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin. "China has no right to talk with India on the border issue and we urge your government to stop interfering on Tibet's border issue," it said.

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DOMESTIC: Another Falungong Member Dies in Prison After Force Feeding

SUMMARY: A school teacher member of the outlawed Falungong spiritual group died in a detention center in northern China after police attempted to end her hunger strike by force-feeding her, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said Wednesday. An Xiukun, 50, an elementary school teacher in Hengshui city, Hebei province, suffocated on June 23 in the Hengshui Administrative Detention Center, after six days on hunger strike protesting her "unjust detention," the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Zhang Qizeng, An's husband, was subsequently arrested on July 20 and sentenced without trial to three years reform through labor for protesting the manner in which his wife died and demanding compensation, the center said. The human rights group has recorded the deaths of at least 25 Falungong followers who have died while in police custody since the government banned the group in July 1999.

The center estimates some 10,000 Falungong followers have been sentenced without trial to the administrative punishment of "reform-through-labor," with Falungong followers in every one of the nation's 300 labor camps.

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DOMESTIC: China's Internet Usage Doubles Since Beginning of Year

SUMMARY: China's Internet usage doubles since beginning of year

SUMMARY: Internet usage in China has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year to 16.9 million users as online growth in the world's most populous country booms, an official Internet administrator announced Thursday.

The rise in Internet users was up from 8.9 million users at the beginning of the year, continuing a two-year trend which has seen Internet usage in China doubling every six months, a report issued by the government-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said.

CNNIC expects 20 million Chinese will have logged on to the Internet by the end of the year, while the Beijing Mainland Information Institute (MII) expects Internet usage to hit 30 million by the end of 2002, as 21 percent of urban residents with telephone lines are expected to go on-line "in the near future."

China has largely missed out on the Internet investment craze that has characterized US equity markets for years before April's crash of Internet stocks, as the MII has banned foreign investment in Chinese Internet service and content providers. The ban has resulted in only a few Chinese service and content providers, like Sina.com and Sohu.com, reaping the benefits of western capital after setting up off-shore listing vehicles.

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

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