Week of November 3, 2000
Week of March 2, 2001
The U.S. and China This Week
INTERNATIONAL: Chinese Dissidents Ask Robinson to
Raise Case of Democracy Activist
SUMMARY: The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for
Human Rights and Democracy put out an open letter asking U.N. High Commissioner
for Human Rights Mary Robinson to try to persuade the Chinese government
to give necessary medical treatment to a jailed dissident. Xu Wenli, who
has Hepatitis B and other ailments, was given a 13-year sentence in 1998
for attempting to form a pro-democratic political party. Robinson met with
Chinese government officials February 26. She was in Beijing to oversee
a two-day seminar on the state’s power to send individuals to labor camps
with no trial.
The letter, signed by 35 dissidents and distributed
to foreign correspondents, said Xu has lost all of his teeth and his hair
has become white. The authorities have only given him insufficient medical
treatment, the letter said; it asked that Xu be freed on medical parole,
as in the past were dissidents Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan (both of them,
however, were later re-arrested).
The letter was signed by Ren Wending, who participated
in the 1979 Democracy Wall movement and the 1989 Tiananmen protests, and
He Depu, a member of the now moribund China Democracy Party that Xu helped
The seminar hosted by Robinson is the first in
a series mandated by an agreement reached between the government and Robinson
last November. The seminars will deal with China’s courts, police and labor
|| Next Summary
INTERNATIONAL: Olympic Inspectors Impressed by Beijing
SUMMARY: If remarks by the head of International
Olympic Committee (IOC) inspection team are any indication, the team’s
recent visit to Beijing was a success. Heim Verbruggen said Beijing
had clearly shown its capability to be a host city for the 2008 Olympics.
“We have tried to feel what is the support of the population for the bid,?Verbruggen said. “I think we have found in general great enthusiasm.?
The 17-member inspection team visited Beijing for four days. Places
it toured included sports stadiums, traffic control centers and a sewage
treatment plant. “I think we’ve got a fairly good picture of the city,?Verbruggen said. However, BBC Beijing correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
maintained that Verbruggen was hesitant to be drawn on the environmental
conditions of Beijing, which has pollution and traffic congestion problems.
Several individuals have been sentenced for asking the IOC to exert
influence on Beijing to release political prisoners. Verbruggen maintained
that the IOC does not hold positions on political subjects.
The decision on what country will host the 2008 Olympics is scheduled
to be made in July. The Chinese government says it plans to spend $12 billion
over the next seven years to clean up Beijing.
|| Next Summary
INTERNATIONAL: U.N. Human Rights Chief Calls on
China to End Labor Camps
SUMMARY: While in Beijing to oversee a two-day seminar
on the state’s power to send individuals to labor camps with no trial,
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson called on
China to scrap its labor camp system. “The concept of using forced labor
as a punishment is against the accepted international human rights principles
embodied in many international instruments,?Robinson said to Chinese officials
and legal experts. She asked China to undergo “a serious review leading
to the abolition of the practice.?
Sophia Woodman, research director for the New York-based group Human
Rights in China, said her organization is “very happy that Mary Robinson
made this strong statement at the workshop and is standing with the people
inside China who are looking at this issue.?Last week, Human Rights in
China released a report claiming 260,000 Chinese are in labor camps, 60
percent of them for “disturbing public order.?According to Falun Gong
spokespeople, 5,000 of their members are in labor camps.
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Guangya spoke to the seminar, maintaining
that “No country’s human rights record is 100 percent perfect.?He also
said that “We hope not only to work hard to improve our record, but to
learn from the experience of other countries.?amp;nbsp;
|| Next Summary
U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Chinese Government to Investigate Iraq Allegations
SUMMARY: The Chinese Foreign Ministry has said it will investigate whether
a Chinese company sold fiber-optic cables to Iraq and helped with their
installation. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell asked Chinese Ambassador
Yang Jiechi for an explanation regarding the alleged sale, which America
says aided Iraq’s air defenses by allowing it to augment links between
antiaircraft missiles and the radar systems that guide them. The cables
would be a violation of U.N. sanctions against Iraq given that they have
a military application. On February 16, the U.S. and Britain conducted
air strikes against Iraq’s air defenses, citing their improvement as one
Originally, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao denied America’s
allegations about the fiber-optic cables. But at a news conference February
27, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said that “Regarding the situation
raised by the U.S. side, China can conduct an investigation.?
An Asian and a Western diplomat said the firm that the U.S. has complained
about is Huawei Technologies Company, a secretive private company based
in Shenzhen that has been given communications contracts from the People’s
Army. According to telecommunications experts and diplomats, if Huawei
had exported the fiber-optic cables to Iraq it would not necessarily mean
the Chinese government was involved.
A Chinese security analyst maintained that China wants to rectify the
situation with Iraq to make sure America does not use it as an excuse to
sell Taiwan an Aegis early-warning radar system, which would allow Taiwan
greater capability to detect Chinese air and missile attacks.
Previous Summary || Next
INTERNATIONAL: China Ratifies U.N. Human Rights Treaty
SUMMARY: China ratified the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights February 28 but said it will address a provision
for independent trade unions “in line with relevant provisions?of its
constitution and labor laws. Currently Chinese workers may only belong
to one Communist Party-run union. Xiao Qiang, executive director of the
New York-based Human Rights in China, said the ratification of the treaty
will better allow court challenges of the government by Chinese citizens
and help scholars involved in attempting to reform China’s legal system.
Mike Jendrzejczyk, Washington director of the Asia Division of Human
Rights Watch, called on China to free incarcerated labor organizers and
to allow the International Labor Organization to help China reform its
labor laws so that they comply with international norms, as the ILO has
China signed the rights pact in 1997. Following from ratification, China
must release periodic compliance reports, which will allow for international
scrutiny of its policies.
|| Next Summary
The U.S. and China This
Last updated: 8 March 2001