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Week of August 11, 2000

Week of August 11, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Beijing Complains about Taiwan Presidentís Stopover in Los Angeles

SUMMARY:Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhu Bangzao voiced opposition to Taiwan President Chen Shui-bianís planned stopover in Los Angeles in route to Central America for official visits later this month. Zhu expressed the Chinese governmentís dissatisfaction with the development and warned that it could harm U.S.-China relations. He stated, "The Chinese side requests the American government to do what they promised and abide by the three Sino-American joint communiques and relevant commitments from the United States to prevent Sino-U.S. relations from being seriously damaged." Further, Zhu claimed that Taiwan was using the L.A. stopover as a convenient excuse to undertake "splittist" activities and promote its independent stance on relations with the mainland.

In response to the U.S. allowance of Chenís stopover in Los Angeles, Taiwan foreign ministry deputy director Kao Shih-tai expressed thanks to Washington and tried to alleviate Chinese concerns, stating that the visit was too short to make time for any public activities. The only scheduled meeting Chen has is with Richard Bush, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, a semi-official agency dealing with Taiwan. However, Chenís arrival in the city on August 13 coincides with the Democratic National Convention to be held in Los Angeles, causing particular alarm in Beijing about the prospect of Chen meeting with U.S. officials who happen to be in the city.

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: U.S. Intelligence Reports Conclude Chinese Military Technology Transfer to Pakistan, Likelihood of Chinese Missile Proliferation

SUMMARY:A biannual U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report on proliferation activities concluded that China has increased technological assistance to Pakistanís ballistic missile program, in addition to those in Iran, North Korea, and Libya. This report was issued a day following bilateral talks between U.S. and Chinese military officials held last week in Hawaii, the second set of non-proliferation discussions held since military exchanges resumed in July after being broken off following the U.S./NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in May 1999. Beijing officials have denied these report conclusions as baseless. Pakistan officials also strongly deny the accusations.

In another intelligence report, known as the National Intelligence Estimate and issued to the White House this week, concludes that China is working to modernize and increase its strategic force of intercontinental missiles. Furthermore, the study states that if the United States deploys the national missile defense (NMD), China would be likely to try to expand its missile capabilities even further in attempt to overcome the defense shield.

U.S. plans for NMD have been widely criticized internationally by a host of U.S. allies and China, claiming that it could start another Cold-war-like proliferation of missiles around the world. The United States has unsuccessfully tried to reassure China that the system would be directed against states with unpredictable missile programs such as North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. China continues to reiterate its concern that the system could easily be re-directed against its forces.

Using these and other assessments of Chinese military activities, President Clinton is expected to make a decision by late November on whether or not to initiate NMD construction.

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CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS: China Appoints New Taiwan Affairs Officials, Possible Sign of New Taiwan Strategy

SUMMARY:As Chinese leaders meet for their "secretive" annual summer meetings at Beihaide, unidentified sources revealed a decision has been made to reshuffle senior officials who work on Taiwan affairs. Most notably, Zhou Minwei, a Harvard-educated technocrat and former Shanghai foreign relations office head, has been appointed as the number two person at the Taiwan Affairs Office (TOA) and deputy of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), two Chinese offices that handle ties with Tiawan. Analysts say this decision, pushed by President Jiang Zemin, is an indication of his determination to make progress on Taiwan before he retires in 2003.

While Western diplomats in Beijing do not perceive the change in personnel as an indication of dramatic shift on the policy front, it may signify a small step towards progress. Speculators guess that China may take up Taiwan President Chen Shui-bianís proposal to discuss direct postal, transportation, and trade links. In addition, China may be willing to accept a vague 1992 formulation that each side can have its own interpretation of "one China" so progress can be make on bilateral talks.

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DOMESTIC: China to Make Health Care Reforms

SUMMARY: The Chinese government has announced that it will let private hospitals determine their own prices for health services as the state undertakes steps to dismantle the socialist-era health care system currently in place where all care is provided free of charge. As a result, a two-tiered system would be created, one tier made of private clinics and Sino-foreign joint ventures, and the other tier made up of non-profit groups. All private and nonprofit groups would be given tax exemptions as incentive to invest in medical services. These developments are in response to the increasing pressure faced by the Chinese government, which faces the difficult task of dealing with an increasing aging population.

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

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