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Week of September 21, 2001

Week of September 21, 2001

The U.S. and China This Week


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INTERNATIONAL: U.S. Reportedly Expels Chinese Journalists

SUMMARY: (9/17; 9/19) ?Some State Department officials maintain that the United States expelled a group of Chinese journalists who were visiting Washington, D.C. as part of the International Visitor Program because some of them publicly lauded the terrorist attacks in New York and D.C. that took thousands of American lives. “Under the current circumstances, it was decided not to continue the tour,?a State Department official said, without giving the reason. But other sources confirmed there were reports that some of the journalists celebrated news reports of the attacks with applause and cheering.

Chinese deputy chief of mission in Washington, D.C. He Yafei denied the Chinese delegation had been expelled at a press conference. He said the journalists had been informed that their visit had to be curtailed because of the “unexpected and unusual circumstances? of the terrorist attacks. He said members of the delegation denied there was any applauding of the attacks.

There were 14 journalists on the 28-day program financed by the State Department. The International Visitors Program allows foreign professionals to come to the U.S. to meet with American counterparts. The Chinese journalists had also been scheduled to visit New York. The State Department official said other similar groups are being reviewed “on a case-by-case basis.?A senior State Department official has verified that other groups have been allowed to stay on their visits.

Under the 40-year-old International Visitor Program, more than 186 current and former heads of state and more than 1500 senior foreign government officials have come to the U.S. Meanwhile, in China, the government has limited state-media to basically reporting death numbers and official pronouncements. The Chinese public is reportedly split between nationalists and isolationists who believe the U.S. is acting as an international policeman and who want China to eschew military intervention and internationalists who want China to help in the fight against terrorism.

“Since America bombed our embassy, most Chinese have felt the U.S. should reap what it sows,?said Ms. Wan, a 24-year-old who herself felt the act of terror was a tragedy. Chinese analysts have indicated the government of China will be in a difficult position in coming weeks because it will want to be seen as voicing strong words against terrorism but also has close ties to states America says sponsor terrorism, such as Iraq and Libya.

“From the word go, major state media have been under orders not to play up the story too much,?commented a journalism scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “State regulators want the media to draw attention away from this matter.?#060;/font>
 
 


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INTERNATIONAL: China Wants U.S. Help Against Separatists

SUMMARY:  (9/19) ?A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that given that the U.S. wants help in the fight against terrorism, it should back China in its efforts against separatists in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang province. Zhu Bangzao also maintained that if the U.S. retaliates for the acts of terrorism in New York and Washington D.C. that claimed thousands of lives on September 11, retaliation should be based on “concrete evidence,? be in accordance with international law, and not harm innocent civilians.

“The United States has asked China to provide assistance in the fight against terrorism,?Zhu said. “China, by the same token, has reasons to ask the United States to give its support and understanding against terrorism and separatists. We should not have double standards.?However, Zhu said China was not asking for a quid-pro-quo in giving help against international terrorism. “The fight against terrorism is a different issue,?he said. “We are not making bargains here.?

The Associated Press quoted China’s official New China News Agency as saying that Chinese President Jiang Zemin spoke by telephone with President Jacques Chirac of France and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to emphasize China’s position before the British and French leaders met with U.S. President George W. Bush.

There is a strong belief among Beijing leaders that the U.S. must involve the United Nations Security Council during its global fight against terrorism.  In a phone conversation with Prime Minister Blair, President Jiang stated that U.S. military actions “must conform with the principles of the United Nations Charter and international norms and the UN Security Council must be involved.?

According to Paul Harris, associate professor of politics at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, “China remains obsessed with the idea of sovereignty and non-intervention into other nations’s affair,?he said.
 


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DOMESTIC: Six Falun Gong Members Alleged to Have Died In Custody

SUMMARY: Falun Gong’s U.S.-based information center claims six more Falun Gong adherents have died in custody in China due to physical abuse. The alleged victims, four women and two men, were said to have been either in police custody or in labor camps. Relatives of the deceased say they had been beaten or tortured, although three of the bodies have not been recovered.

The family of one woman, whose spine was broken and lower limbs paralyzed, was made to sign a statement claiming she died of suicide and that her death had nothing to do with other deaths. Falun Gong claims 278 of its members have died from torture in Chinese custody since the government’s crackdown on the movement began in 1999. Falun Gong estimates the real total of deaths in custody amounts to more than 1,000. The Chinese government admits to some deaths of Falun Gong members in custody, but says they were due to suicide or illness.

China maintains that Falun Gong is a cult and that it has led to the deaths of at least 1,800 people from suicide or refusing to accept needed medical assistance. China also says Falun Gong is trying to overthrow Communist Party rule in China. Around 50,000 Falun Gong followers are in Chinese prisons, labor camps and mental hospitals, the group claims.

Police and government officials in most of the six cities where the six deaths were announced were unavailable for comment. However, one police officer in Daqing city, in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, commented, “When you ask about these matters, nobody is ever quite clear.?A female Falun Gong follower in Daqing was said by police to have flung herself out of a train.
 


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DOMESTIC:  China’s First Lawsuit Against Tobacco Industry is Rejected

SUMMARY: (9/19/01) ?A lower-level Chinese court has rejected China’s first ever lawsuit case directed against its tobacco regulator and 24 cigarette companies concerning health issues related to tobacco consumption.

A seventeen-year old Chinese smoker, who began smoking at the age of 13, and his lawyers unsuccessfully pleaded their case alleging that tobacco company Web sites did not carry health warnings about the dangers of smoking.  They announced their campaign called “For Kids?Sake?in hopes of protecting children and young adults against tobacco company advertising and sales techniques.

In a country where some 300 million people smoke and one third of all future deaths among Chinese men will be related to smoking, the legal defeat may have been disappointing, but a small victory seemed to be evident when new tobacco warnings were posted on the tobacco regulator’s Web site.  According to lawyer Tong Lihua, raising public awareness on the issue is an important step in his pursuit to protect minors against the dangers of smoking.

Though Chinese law requires that health warnings be printed on cigarette packages, it does not require Internet sites to do the same.  China prohibited consumption of tobacco products by minors in 1999, but it is difficult to enforce and only on rare occasions do shopkeepers ask teenagers to provide proof of their age.
 


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