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Week of February 8, 2002

Week of February 8, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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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 in China.

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 next year.


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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.


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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 official.

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.


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

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