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Week of September 15, 2000

Week of September 15, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: PNTR Bill Clears Amendments, Final Vote Day Decided

SUMMARY: The Senate ended two weeks of amendment proposals to the longstanding bill which would grant permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China, clearing the way for a final vote in the Senate on September 18. On September 13, the final amendment calling for sanctions on China for alleged weapons sales to Pakistan and other countries was defeated. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Trent Lotts?(R-MS) nonproliferation measure was considered the last major hurdle before the Senate could hold a final vote on the China trade bill. The bill has been for many months and still is considered to be approved in the Senate without much difficulty. A recent Reuters poll found 69 out of 100 Senators in favor of the bill. The vote next week will end a long and arduous battle by supporters on and off the hill to push the bill through both chambers of Congress.

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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: China Helps U.S. Find Missing Soldiers

SUMMARY: U.S. officials have said that China is willing to help the United States find American soldiers from the Korean War who were declared missing in action (MIA) or prisoners of war (POW).

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged for Robert Jones, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense, to interview several Chinese who ran POW camps in North Korea. "I believe that the Chinese government holds the key to information about our POW’s held during the Korean War," Jones said.

Chinese cooperation has been crucial in order to find out what happened to about 8,200 missing American soldiers from the Korean War, 2,300 of which were POWs. Jones believes questions about where the prisoners were held, if they were buried and if any may still be alive could be answered by Chinese camp workers and documents.

The Chinese have also provided information and assistance in the recovery of other missing American warplanes that crashed in Tibet during WWII and in southern China during the Vietnam War.

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DOMESTIC: Explosion Kills 60 in Xinjiang

SUMMARY: On a busy road in a western suburb of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, a truck carrying explosives for disposal blew up killing 60 people, injuring some 173 others and scorching cars and homes near the site of the blast.

A bystander reported identifying the truck as a military vehicle, but government officials have refused to confirm the description. However, investigators believe the explosion was an accident and ruled out terrorism after a forensic examination found no evidence of an artificial triggering device.

Sporadic violence has occurred in Xinjiang where rebellious Muslim Uighurs have rioted, exploded bombs, and committed assassinations for years. The Uighur minorities have been struggling for better treatment by the all Han Chinese government, while militants are calling for an independent Muslim state they call East Turkestan. The separatists have been getting support from militants in Afghanistan and are considered the most violent internal threat to China’s security.

On Thursday Premier Zhu Rongji, who was coincidentally in Xinjiang for an inspection trip during the explosion, called for a crackdown on separatists in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang. "We have to struggle firmly against any act that disturbs national unity and social stability" said Mr. Zhu. He also stated that an "iron fist" must be used to stop religious fundamentalists and terrorist that are inhibiting the government’s plan to develop backward western provinces.

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DOMESTIC: Widespread Corruption Continues to Worry Government

SUMMARY: President Jiang has ordered an all-out war against rampant corruption within the party and vowed that high rank or blood ties would not protect officials from prosecution.

Jiang’s declarations are being emphasized after the execution of the most senior Communist Party official, former parliament vice chairman Cheng Kejie, for accepting almost five million dollars in bribes while he was governor of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The Xiamen scandal hearings also began this week, amid signs of nervousness among mainland leaders who are unsure how the trials will unfold. The state media has only released limited information about Xiamen scandal, and has instead been reporting on less significant corruption cases. Furthermore, a popular mainland web site has posted warnings from the Propaganda Department to use only official reports on the trials, to "avoid any threats of stability".

The Xiamen corruption scandal was busted up last April by a team of central government investigators. The scam is centered on the Hong Kong-based YuanHua Group, which allegedly smuggled diesel fuel, tobacco, cars and others products into Fujian by paying off mainland officials. According to the official press, some 200 to 600 government official are thought to be implicated in the scandal, while 10 people may face the death penalty.

The Xinhua news agency reported that police have uncovered 277,000 corruption cases in China since 1994.

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

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