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Week of August 18, 2000

Week of August 18, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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DOMESTIC: Arafat and Peres Visit China

SUMMARY: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived in Beijing on Monday morning in order to inform China about the failed Camp David Summit meeting and to win support for Palestineís independence.

Though China established ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLA) and supports their decision for an independent state, President Jiang Zemin did, however, urge Arafat to pick an "appropriate" time to declare its independence.

According to state television, Jiang told Arafat, "China and its people will support whatever you decide, as long as it is in accordance with the Palestinian peopleís interests and will help the Palestinian just cause."

On Wednesday Shimon Peres, Israelís minister of regional cooperation and former Prime Minister, visited China. He also informed Jiang on the breakdown of the Middle East peace talks and discussed Israelís cancellation of a planned sale of an Israeli Airborne Warning and Control System to China.

Israel and China have been working to improve their relations. In April, Jiang became the first Chinese head of state to visit Israel. And Israel has offered assistance in the development of Chinaís backward regions.

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DOMESTIC: Crackdown on Spiritual Movements

SUMMARY: Authorities in southern China have stepped up their crackdown on a spiritual group called Zhonggong. This group, like the now infamous Falungong, promotes moral virtue and clean living through traditional Chinese breathing and meditation exercises.

According to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, the Guangzhou leader of Zhonggong, Wang Xuemei, was sentenced to two years in prison for "disturbing social order."

Furthermore, in the past, some 600 other Zhonggong training leaders have been detained without trial, while 3,000 businesses set up by Zhonggong have been shut down.

The leader and founder of Zhonggong, Zhang Hongbao, fled to Guam in January to escape arrest in China. Zhangís followers have recently appealed to the U.S. to grant him political asylum.

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DOMESTIC: Tibetan Tour Guides Dismissed

SUMMARY: In what the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy believes is China attempt to tighten control over Tibetans, the Chinese government has conducted an investigation of tourist agencies in Lhasa and dismissed 29 guides.

All 29 guides were educated in India, while the three who were not dismissed graduated from Chinese universities.

The Chinese government reportedly recruited more than 100 Chinese tour guides in May, threatening the livelihoods of Tibetan guides, who are required to pass a political examination. (AFP, Beijing Aug 16.)

It is believed that the dismissing the Tibetan tour guides is due in part to China wanting more security and control in Tibet after the Beijing-approved Karmapa Lama escaped to India last December.

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

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