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Week of August 4, 2000

Week of August 4, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Beijing Critical of U.S. Republican Party Stance Toward China During Election Debate

SUMMARY: Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzhao recently made a statement noting the U.S. Republican Party’s critical stance toward China during election debates and emphasized that Sino-U.S. relations should be kept out of election politics.

The Republican Party platform, issued at this week’s convention in Philadelphia, included harsh statements about China’s political oppression, theft of U.S. nuclear secrets, and threat to Taiwan’s security. In addition, the platform committed Republican efforts to increase military sales to Taiwan and to come to the island’s aid if China did not abide by the process of the peaceful reunification. Furthermore, convention statements reaffirmed Republican presidential nominee George Bush’s prior remarks that China is not a "strategic partner" of the United States as the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton advocates, but rather a "strategic competitor." Zhu concluded, "We [China] hope the Republican Party has a clear understanding of the overall situation of Sino-U.S. relations, and will act wisely, abide by the commitments of past U.S. governments and work to stabilize and improve relations."

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INTERNATIONAL: U.S. Missile Defense Plan Criticized at Asian Forum and G-8 Summit

SUMMARY: At a recent annual forum in Bangkok sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Several Asian countries criticized U.S. plans for a national missile defense (NMD) system at the ASEAN). The forum provided an opportunity for several nations to jointly make their voices heard on major issues with an abundance of international news media reporters. Among the nations was China, the most vociferous critic of the missile plan. Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan stated at a press conference, "This issue is by no means a dispute between China and the United States, but between the United States and the international community." A week earlier at the Group of Eight industrialized nations summit in Okinawa, Japan, President Clinton heard the complaints of other participating countries. However, Japan, a collaborator with the United States in developing technology for a regional theater missile defense (TMD), neither supported nor criticized the U.S. position at these meetings, instead claiming that plans are preliminary and defensive.

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CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS: Taiwan President Appeals to China Again, Weakened by Troubles at Home

SUMMARY: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian made the latest of his many overtures to mainland China to reopen discussions over resolving the rift in cross-strait relations. However, with mounting troubles at home and his party’s recent reaffirmation of an independent Taiwan, Chen has less flexibility on how he can pursue relations with China. In particular, Chen’s government has been widely regarded as incompetent and has been ridiculed by Taiwan’s legislature of which the majority is made of political opponents. A major recent incident contributing to Chen’s poor image is his government’s slow response to a local flash food, which resulted in several deaths. His opponents in the Legislature are taking advantage of this difficult time to show Chen’s weakness on the mainland issue.

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CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS: Taiwan’s New Central Bank Official Favors Mainland Investments to Island

SUMMARY: At his first news conference, the newly appointed deputy governor of Taiwan’s central bank Zhen Shih-meng said that he favored "appropriately" opening Taiwan to mainland Chinese investments, claiming that it would help national security. He stated, "Chinese investors will feel as if Taiwan’s security and economic prosperity will go hand in hand with their interests," but did not specify if or when a liberalization of capital inflows would occur. He did make clear that he preferred easing restrictions on funds from local and private sources on the mainland and maintaining restrictions on central government funds. Until now, Taiwan has maintained tight control on capitol inflows from across the Taiwan Straits for fear that its key industries could come under the control of the mainland.

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DOMESTIC: China To Execute Ex-Senior Official for Corruption, Continues Widespread Use of Death Penalty

SUMMARY: A Chinese court recently convicted Cheng Kejie, a former vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, on charges of participation in a $5 billion bribery scandal. The Chinese government says it is using the former top-ranking official as an example as part of its war on corruption. As corruption is common at many levels of the Chinese bureaucracy, the government has launched a series of campaigns to show its determination to stamp it out. However, the widespread and overlooked corruption within the government makes many in China remain suspicious of the real reason behind the prosecution ?possibly that the former official has merely fallen out of political favor. Regardless of the reality behind the situation, this case is among one of the many bringing attention to China’s aggressive use of crime related capitol punishment.

A recent L.A. Times article reported on China’s continued practice of applying the death penalty to a numerous variety of unlawful offenses, and the massive number of resulting executions. Within the last week, at least 48 persons were executed as a part of an aggressive anti-drug campaign, in addition to others who were executed for violent crimes. In China, death sentences are applied, not only to drug and violence related crimes, but also to a whole host of other offenses including bribery, tax evasion, credit card fraud, burglary and prostitution. According to Amnesty International reports, since 1990 there have been over 18,000 put to death compared to a total of 736 in the nations of Iran and Saudi Arabia combined.

While many U.S. allies, such as France, Germany, Great Britain and Australia, regularly criticize Beijing for this liberal use of the death penalty, the United States is the only Western power not to protest these actions. Despite Washington’s advocacy of raising human rights issues with China, the United States?own use of the death penalty (in the case of certain violent crimes), has caused it to remain silent on the issue. As a result, China is in a position to use the U.S. practice of death sentences as a justification of its own actions.

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

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