Week of February 8, 2002
Week of February 8, 2002
The U.S. and China This Week
INTERNATIONAL: Chinese Man Sues Japan over Mustard Gas Wounds
SUMMARY: (2/4) - A chronically ill man is one of 13 Chinese
suing the Japanese government in a Japanese court for harm inflicted by chemical
weapons Japan left in China after World War II. "I suffered injuries
several decades after the end of the war in times of peace, and the Japanese
government must recognize its responsibility," testified 41-year-old
Zhong Jiang in Tokyo District Court February 4.
Zhong is the first plaintiff to testify in the lawsuit filed in December
1996 that seeks damages of 199.98 million yen ($1.5 million). Lawyers for
the plaintiffs say Japan illegally used chemical weapons in China during
the war and then discarded unused weapons "with the intent to hide
evidence." A Chinese government study found Japan left two million
chemical weapons shells in China, and that more than 2,000 individuals have
been hurt by the munitions in accidents. Japanese government studies have
found Japanese forces left about 700,000 chemical weapons shells behind
The plaintiffs are claiming that dumping such weapons violates international
law. But Japan says international law does not allow individuals to receive
compensation for grievances against a state. Japan also says China waived
all rights to seek compensation for the war when the two countries normalized
diplomatic relations in 1972. In 1999, Japan agreed to provide funding,
technology, manpower, facilities or any other assets necessary to clean
up chemical weapons left in China by Japanese forces.
In July 1982, Zhong was a worker helping to construct a sewage system in
Mudanjiang city in Heilongjiang province in the northeast. Workers found
an oil-drum-like canister and used pickaxes to open stoppers on the item.
A black liquid that smelled like garlic came out and got on Zhong's eyes,
face neck and hand. The liquid, which was mustard gas, hurt his eyes and
later made him go blind for 10 days and cough up blood. He was admitted
to a military hospital two days after being exposed.
Mustard gas causes internal bleeding and blindness and slowly wrecks the
lungs of those exposed to it. Since the exposure, Zhong has consistently
been in and out of hospitals. He suffers from steady vomiting, headaches,
and reduced eyesight and cannot hold a job. Lawyers for the plaintiffs expect
the court to rule by the end of this year at the earliest, or perhaps early
Previous Summary ||
TAIWAN: China Maintains Position on Three Links
SUMMARY: (2/6; 2/7) - After a Washington Post story suggested
China was softening its stance on opening the "three links" with
Taiwan of direct trade, transport and post, a spokeswoman for the Mainland
Affairs Council said Chinese policy remained unchanged. A senior Chinese official
speaking on condition of anonymity reportedly told several reporters February
5th China was prepared to open the "three links" without any preconditions.
Up until now, China has maintained that it will only open the "three
links" with Taiwan if the self-governing island acknowledges the "one-China"
principle, that is that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it.
The official was reported to have suggested that Chinese and Taiwanese enterprises
could begin negotiating the "three links" as Taiwanese firms did
with counterparts in Hong Kong and Macao, now both Chinese territories.
But the Mainland Affairs spokeswoman told Reuters on February 6th, "All
documents and statements by central leaders are consistent and clear. It
is in all the recent documents and talks, which are consistent. I can say
that there has been no change." The disparate reports come days after
Vice Premier Qian Qichen made a speech in which he distinguished between
radical members of Taiwan's governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
and mainstream elements, who he said were welcome to visit mainland China.
Previously the Chinese government had taken an adversarial stance toward
the entire DPP, which favors independence from China.
In his speech Qian did not mention the threat to invade Taiwan if the island
declared independence, previously a routine part of Chinese statements on
Taiwan. And while Zhang Mingming of the Taiwan Affairs Office said after
Qian's talk Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, a member of the DPP, would
not be allowed to visit China, the anonymous official reportedly left open
the possibility of a visit by Chen.
The official was said to have compared opening the "three links"
without preconditions to the decision more than 20 years ago to do business
with Taiwan. Taiwan's direct investment in the mainland exceeds $70 billion,
and there was $31 billion worth of indirect trade between the mainland and
Taiwan in 2000. Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said it would investigate
the Washington Post report. DPP secretary-general Wu Nai-jen stated, "We
welcome the three links. It's good for both sides."
On January 28, Richard Bush, Washington's top representative to Taipei,
criticized Beijing for continuing to set acceptance of the "one-China"
principle as a precondition to political talks. The anonymous official was
reported to have said a recent speech by a U.S. official on Taiwanese-Chinese
relations shows the U.S. government does not understand the importance of
China's policy changes toward Taiwan. On February 21, U.S. President George
W. Bush will hold a summit with Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Beijing.
Previous Summary ||
REPORT: China Tests Multiple Warhead Missile
SUMMARY: (2/4) - A Chinese test of a ballistic
missile capable of delivering multiple warheads and thus of breaching a U.S.
missile shield failed, according to the Japanese Yomiuri Shimbin newspaper.
The Dongfeng-31 rocket, which has a range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles), was said
to have exploded in mid-flight in a test in January. The missile reportedly
had multiple independent re-entry vehicle (MIRV) capability, which enables
one rocket to launch several warheads to different destinations simultaneously.
The proposed U.S. missile shield is designed only to knock down a small
number of enemy warheads. A December 2001 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
report maintained China has 20 operational silos with CSS-4 (DF5A) missiles.
All of these missiles have single warheads and have a range of 15,000 km.
The CIA report, called "baseless speculation" by China, claimed
China is planning to boost its numbers of intercontinental ballistic missiles
to 75 to 100 by 2015. The report said China could have three mobile strategic
missiles ready within the next 10 years, including one launched by submarine.
It also maintained that China views conventionally armed ballistic missiles
as useful to its overall military capabilities.
Washington withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile pact in December and
says it wants to build a missile defense system to deal with threats of
small numbers of missiles from "rogue" states like North Korea
and Iran. However, experts say even a limited missile shield by the United
States might be able to stop all 20 of China's currently active nuclear
missiles. But with MIRV capability, China could breach an American defense
shield, experts say.
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INTERNATIONAL: Amnesty International Appeals for Lives of Condemned
SUMMARY: (2/6) - The human rights group Amnesty International has appealed
to China not to execute five Protestant Christians sentenced to death. Amnesty
said in its appeal February 6 that it was "concerned that the five sentenced
to death may have been tortured to force them to confess." The five individuals
are members of the underground South China Church. They include church founder
Gong Shengliang, who was found guilty of "using an evil sect to harm the
implementation of the law" as well as "premeditated assault"
and "crimes of rape and hooliganism," according to a criminal court
The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said
Gong's niece, Li Ying, was also sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve
for printing copies of a church document. A reprieve means her sentence will
be commuted to life if she behaves well during the period specified. Xu Fuming,
Hu Yong and Gong Bangkun were also given the death penalty, according to Amnesty.
The relatives of Li and Xu have asked the Chinese government to review their
cases, Amnesty reports.
The death sentences come at a time when human rights groups are concerned the
crackdown on Falun Gong and other similarly Buddhist-based groups has been extended
to illegal Christian churches. Hong Kong businessman Li Guangqiang was recently
sentenced to two years in jail for smuggling Bibles into the mainland, and two
mainland associates of Li got three-year sentences.
Amnesty said its concerns were raised in part by the alleged torture of three
young women associated with the South China Church. In letters sent to their
families, the women claimed to have been beaten with electric batons and belts.
Two of the women were said to be serving three-year sentences at a labor camp
in Hubei, while the third woman's location was unknown.
China permits Christian worship only at state-controlled Protestant and Catholic
churches. However, some estimates claim as many as 10 million Chinese worship
are part of clandestine Protestant groups.
The U.S. and China This
Last updated: 17 January 2001