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Week of October 6, 2000

Week of October 6, 2000

The U.S. and China This Week

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CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS:  New Taiwan Premier Worries Beijing

Earlier this week General Tang Fei, acting Premier for Taipei's new government, suddenly resigned, claiming poor health as the major reason.  Replacing General Tang as Prime Minister is Chang Chun-hsiung.

The recent appointment of Chang has concerned leaders in Beijing who call him a "closet splittist".  Unlike Tang, a senior member of the Nationalist Party, both Premier Chang and President Chen are from the Democratic Progressive Party, which has a long favored independence from the mainland.

Beijing experts on Taiwan have expressed fear that a Chang-Chen administration may be more predisposed towards translating parts of the DDP's pro-independence charter into public policy.

Before the announcement of the new Premier, President Chen put Taipei's armed forces on heightened alertness and had the military movements on the mainland monitored.

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INTERNATIONAL: China Cautious in Reaction to Overthrow of Yugoslavia's Milosevic

Upon the overthrow of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic after refusing to step down despite president-elect Vojislaw Kostunica winning the recent popular elections, the Chinese foreign ministry has responded cautiously and vaguely, stating Beijing "respected the choice of the Yugoslav people."  However, the Chinese government who has been a strong supporter of Milosevic during his tenure and the recent ethnic conflict and war in Kosovo, did not specify whether it supported the new leader of the country.  They did reiterate China's long standing policy of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries.  The diplomatic community has interpreted the Chinese reaction as an indication it will wait and see what happens before making a clear statement on the recent developments in Yugoslavia.

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INTERNATIONAL: Russian Scientist Accused of Exporting Defense Equipment to China

According to the Russian Federal Security Service (formerly the KGB), Vladimir Shchurov, a Russian laboratory chief at the Vladivostok Institute of Oceanology, was recently charged with exporting sensitive hi-tech defense equipment to the Chinese.  He was arrested a year ago when crossing the Russia-Chinese border with underwater listening devices which could be used for military use.  In recent years, many Russians have been charged exporting sensitive "state secrets" to other countries.

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INTERNATIONAL:  Japan to Extend Postponed China Loan Before Zhu's October Visit

Japan will extend a $158 million loan to China, which had been postponed in August because of opposition in the Japanese Diet due to suspicious Chinese maritime activities in Japanese waters.  One of the largest donors of loans to China, the Japanese government decided to make the extension ahead of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to Japan next week as an effort to relieve tension in the bilateral relationship.  Japan has detected 17 cases this year of Chinese scientific research vessels sailing into Japanese waters without any notice.

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DOMESTIC:  Falungong Arrests made on China's National Day

The Falungong attempts to disrupt National Day activities in Tiananmen Square ended in almost one thousand arrests on Sunday after the flag raising ceremony.

Many of the practitioners, mostly middle-aged women, were beat openly and shoved into vans while visibly disturbed onlookers stood by and watched.

The religious group, banned by Chinese authorities in July 1999, has continued to embarrass the China's leaders due to their continual disruptions on important Chinese holidays.

The police have watched train stations and have blocked Falungong followers from arriving to Beijing to participate in the protests.   Also, hundreds of People's Liberation Army soldiers and undercover officers were out in full force on Thursday to deter any further displays of disobedience.

The Chinese government has labeled the Falungong the biggest threat to its rule since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations.  Since the ban last summer, the Hong Kong-based information Center for Human Rights and Democracy has recorded that 450 followers have been sent to prison for up to 18 years, 600 have been sent to mental institutions, 10,000 placed in labor camps and another 20,000 followers have been locked up in temporary detention centers.

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DOMESTIC:  Internet Rules Finally Issued

The government has issued its long-awaited regulations on Internet usage, setting strict surveillance on content that may be harmful to China reputation, spread separatist ideas, or social activities aimed to subvert political power.

The rules require mainland Internet content providers (ICP's) to seek permits from the Ministry of Information Industry, while existing ICPs have 60 days from the announcement of the regulations to comply.  Overseas listings by Chinese Internet companies would also have to be approved by the ministry.

Authorities will have the right to demand ICPs to provide all content that appears on their sites as well as records of users who have visited the site up to the last two previous months.

Though the Chinese government has supported the technological advantages of the Internet, they continue to be weary of politically subversive material that can be accessed by large numbers of people.

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

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