Week of February 1, 2002
Week of February 1, 2002
The U.S. and China This Week
U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS:China Criticizes Bush Reference to `Axis
SUMMARY:(1/31) - China criticized U.S. President George W.
Bush's reference to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil"
in his State of the Union address January 29. "The Chinese side does
not advocate using this kind of language in international relations,"
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news conference. If countries
are not treated equally, he said it would harm efforts to solve problems and
"would not be conducive to world and regional peace and stability."
Since defeating the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, American
attention in the war against international terrorism has focused on countries
the United States says export terrorism while also attempting to acquire weapons
of mass destruction. Bush pledged to stop "terrorists and regimes who
seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States
and the world." Washington has alleged that Iraq and North Korea have
violated the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and that they have impeded monitoring
by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
President Bush has warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein there
will be repercussions if Hussein does not let United Nations arms inspectors
back into Baghdad. The inspectors left in 1998 after complaining that they
were being blocked from carrying out their duties to check whether Iraq was
developing chemical and biological weapons. Although there was cooperation
between America and Iran in the war against the Taliban, the Bush administration
has been angered at what it feels is Iranian obstruction of the formation
of a new Afghan regime and by an Iranian arms shipment to the Palestinian
Authority that was confiscated by Israel. Prior to Bush's statement, Washington
had been following a policy of seeking increased dialogue with North Korea.
Although Kong rebuked Bush for the "axis" comment,
he praised a different part of Bush's speech calling for increased cooperation
with China. "We believe that the exchanges of cooperation between our
two countries is in the interest of the two countries as well as for world
peace and stability," he said.
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DOMESTIC:Hong Kong Bible Smuggler Jailed For Two Years
SUMMARY: (1/28; 1/29; 1/30) - A Hong Kong man was sentenced
to two years in jail January 28 for smuggling annotated Bibles into mainland
China to the "Shouters," a banned Christian group. According to
a family friend of Li Guangqiang, Li and two mainland Chinese men were found
guilty by the Fuqing court in southern Fujian province of "illegal business
operations," apparently for not having an import license. As the New
Testament Recovery Version of the Bible Li brought in is legal in China, it
appears it was the annotations and revisions by the Shouters' leader, Li Changshu,
that Beijing found troubling. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi commented
two weeks ago, "The Bibles were a pretext for smuggling a large amount
of cult publications."
Evangelical preaching is outlawed in China. The prosecution
reduced the charge against the 38-year-old Li from one that could have resulted
in the death penalty to one that brought with it a maximum of five years in
jail. The family friend said the two other men received jail terms of three
years, and that all three men were fined 150,000 yuan each ($18,100).
Li and his associates were indicted in early January after being
caught bringing 33,000 Bibles to the "Shouters," a sect banned in
1983, from autonomous Hong Kong. A spokesman for U.S. President George Bush
said the president was personally interested in Li's case and called on Beijing
to respect international standards for religious freedom. Last week, in a
speech in Hong Kong, U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt called on China
to "abide by the international norms of behavior" with regard to
Li's case. The family friend said
Li will appeal his conviction and also vie for medical parole. The friend
said Li had been having respiratory problems since being detained.
"Washington and U.S. pressure groups won't see it as a
concession but a violation of religious rights and they won't be placated,"
Lau Siu-kai of the Chinese University said of the verdict. "The U.S.
will only be satisfied if Beijing lets him go. If not, it will be an irritant
in bilateral relations." U.S. officials in Beijing, who are thought to
be holding talks with the Chinese over Li's case, declined to comment.
In a separate case, two "Shouters" leaders in Anhui
province were charged with "using an evil cult to damage a law-based
society" on January 25, a Hong Kong-based human rights group maintained.
That was the charge Li and his comrades faced initially, which can result
in the death penalty. The two are accused of trying to attract more members
and of recruiting 30 university and high school students last year, said the
Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy. Both have been held since
China forbids religious activity outside state-sanctioned groups,
though millions belong to other faiths clandestinely. "Religious freedom
is so different in China. Beijing must raise its level of tolerance to match
that of international standards," said Rose Wu of the Hong Kong Christian
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INTERNATIONAL: Bible Smuggling Case Worries Hong Kong Christian Groups
SUMMARY: (1/30) - The prison sentence for a Hong
Kong man given out for smuggling annotated Bibles into mainland China has
put Hong Kong's Christian groups on edge. Since religious interest increased
in China during the 1980s, autonomous Hong Kong's minority Christians have
brought goods and money to poorer affiliates in mainland China, without much
interference by the Chinese government. But with the jailing of Li Guangqiang
for two years, Hong Kong's Christians worry that bringing goods across the
border could be dangerous. Two mainland colleagues of Li's were sentenced
to three years in jail.
China outlaws religious activities not specifically approved
by the government, but millions of people worship clandestinely and are tolerated
as long as they keep a low profile. Richard Boucher, a spokesman for the State
Department, declared, "We are troubled that people have been arrested
for making religious materials available to Christians in China and we would
expect China to live up to international standards on freedom of religious
expression and freedom of conscience." He continued, "We have registered
concerns and would continue to register our concerns with Chinese authorities
in both Washington and Beijing throughout this period since the initial reports."
Duan Qiming, a senior member of the Anti-Cult Association, which
usually backs the government, said China had banned 15 "cults" because
they were using religion as a cover. The government thought the leader of
the group receiving Bibles from Li Guangquing, the Shouters, was in fact politically
motivated. Duan said the annotations and revisions by Li Changshu were criminal.
"The normal, internationally recognized versions of the Bible will not
meet with any problems, as long as you keep with customs regulations,"
he said. "These are two separate issues." Duan said while Bibles
can be transported into China for individual use, large numbers must be declared.
Anthony Lam of the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong expressed
dismay at Li's imprisonment. "This should not happen. To send him to
jail for smuggling Bibles is too much. It's a restriction on normal activities,"
Lam said. He also stated to Reuters, "This is very dangerous. They can
easily designate any Protestant or Catholic group as evil cults in the future
and do anything they wish to them."
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Uighurs Reject Ties to bin Laden, Terrorist Label
SUMMARY: (1/30) - Muslim Turkic-speaking Uighurs vying to secede the northwestern
Xinjiang province from the rest of China have rejected the Chinese government's
claim that they are terrorists. An overseas Uighur group also refuted China's
claim that Uighur militants have ties to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist
network. The East Turkestan National Congress (ETNC), which represents overseas
Uighurs, acknowledged the independence movement in Xinjiang. "But it is
not a terrorist movement as China would like the world to believe," said
The statements were in response to a report released by the Chinese government
January 21 that blamed Uighur militants for more than 200 incidents between
1990 and 2001 in Xinjiang that took the lives of 162 people. The report claimed
more than 100 Uighurs were training with the Taliban in Afghanistan before its
fall from power late last year. The ETNC says any Uighurs fighting with the
Taliban were acting independently. The ETNC also denied that pro-independence
leader Hasan Mahsum was supported and directed by bin Laden.
The ETNC also charged the Chinese government with killing 200,000 Uighurs since
the Communist Party came to power in 1949. "They are the colonialists,
not the East Turkestan people whose land was occupied and who are deprived of
the right to call their own homeland in their own language," the ETNC said.
China has supported the U.S. war on international terrorism. The United States
has not linked Uighur militants to that effort. United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights Mary Robinson has said that China should not use the war on
terrorism as an excuse to violate civil liberties and crack down on ethnic minorities,
especially in Xinjiang province
The U.S. and China This
Last updated: 17 January 2001