Week of February 22, 2002
Week of February 22, 2002
The U.S. and China This Week
U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Bush Upbeat on China Relations as Summit
SUMMARY: (2/21) - U.S. President George W. Bush praised China
for its "strong support" of the American-led war on terrorism on
the first day of his two-day visit to China February 21. After an initial
meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, there were no significant deals
announced, including on non-proliferation of weapons technologies. However,
at a joint news conference with Jiang after the discussions, Bush did not
rule out such an agreement being reached. He called on China to "strongly
oppose the proliferation of missiles and other deadly technologies."
At the news conference, Bush stated that terrorism is a threat to both
China and the United States and that he welcomed "Chinese cooperation
in our war against terror." "I encourage China to continue to
be a force for peace among its neighbors," he added. For his part,
Jiang hinted that U.S.-China intelligence cooperation might increase. He
also accepted an invitation from Bush to visit the United States in October.
Prior to going to China, Bush said he would raise human and religious rights
issues with the Chinese leadership. Religious scholars estimate China has
50 million underground Protestants and 10 million Catholics. China only
allows state-approved religions to worship. The Vatican recently complained
about 33 bishops and priests it said were being held or watched and kept
from worshipping freely.
The talks between Jiang and Bush were private, but it was widely expected
that weapons proliferation, human rights and Taiwan would be discussed.
China has informed diplomats it is willing to curb weapons technology exports
to "rogue" states, such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea, the three
countries Bush has labeled an "axis of evil." China has also said
it will work on improving human rights conditions.
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U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Chinese Officials Say China to Make Concessions
to United States
SUMMARY: (2/20) - Among the many conciliatory gestures
China is expected to make to the United States in the coming weeks is the
release of prominent political prisoners. Chinese officials have told diplomats
that China would release dissidents and make it easier for underground churches
to register with the government.
"The government has indicated to me and to the State Department that
they are willing to release other prisoners, including very important ones,"
reported John Kamm, a human rights activist. "We're just working on
the details." Kamm helped gain the release of Tibetan scholar Ngawang
Choephel last month after Choephel spent six years in prison. Last month,
U.S. Ambassador to China Clark T. Randt, Jr. named five political prisoners
in a speech. One of them, Li Guangqiang, a Hong Kong businessman who smuggled
Bibles into the mainland, was released earlier this month. The United States
is also trying to obtain the release of Rebiya Kadeer, a Xinjiang businesswoman
apparently held as part of a crackdown on ethnic Uighurs vying for autonomy.
The Indian-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy announced
February 20 that China had released Chadrel Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk, from
Chuandong prison. Rinpoche was given a six-year prison sentence in May 1997
for attempting to split China and leaking state secrets. The Center said
the reason for his sentence was that he had been in contact with the Dalai
Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetans in exile in India. Rinpoche,
62, is now under house arrest, the Center reported.
China is also expected to take measures to halt proliferation of technology
related to weapons of mass destruction, what American officials are saying
is a "make-or-break issue." In November 2000, the United States
and China reached an agreement whereby China would halt export of missiles
and related technologies and develop a plan to stop future exports. The
United States agreed to let U.S. companies launch satellites in China. However,
the agreement broke down, as China believed the agreement did not pertain
to weapons sales already underway, while the United States said it did.
One senior Asian diplomat commented that China has come to believe that
"a good, solid relationship with the United States is more important
than these sales." A Chinese official said his country is ready to
compromise on the issue. He stated China could quickly publish a list of
illegal exports and measures to enforce the ban if the United States would
lift sanctions barring U.S. satellites from being launched on Chinese rockets.
In addition to releasing dissidents and taking steps to thwart proliferation,
China is expected to approve an FBI liaison office in Beijing, a $10 million
U.S. effort to support the rule of law in China, and joint U.S.-China initiatives
on AIDS prevention and the environment. China also consented to airing live
unedited broadcasts of Bush's joint press conference with Jiang February
21 and of his speech at Tsinghua University on February 22.
China also reportedly toed a tough line with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister
Tariq Aziz when he visited China January 28, informing him that if Iraq
does not abide by United Nations resolutions, China could not do much to
defend Iraq's sovereignty. "Aziz came to China to get Chinese support,"
a diplomat who followed Aziz's visit said. "He got zilch." Diplomats
reported that China will also take a more aggressive stance toward North
Korea and Iran, the two nations who along with Iraq were branded an "axis
of evil" by Bush.
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DOMESTIC: Sentencing Postponed for Students on Falun Gong Charges
SUMMARY: (2/20) - China has postponed sentencing
six students from prestigious Tsinghua University for posting articles about
Falun Gong on the Internet. The six were convicted of "using evil cult
to undermine the enforcement of law," the Hong Kong-based Information
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said. They could each get 15 years in
prison. The six were found guilty in the district court in the southern city
of Zhuhai after being charged last September. They were originally arrested
in November 2000 for posting articles critical of the government's crackdown
on Falun Gong, the Centre reported. Court officials were unavailable for comment.
According to the Centre, the six are among more than 300 Tsinghua students
and faculty who have been arrested for Falun Gong-related activities. In
December, China jailed six other academics, including four Tsinghua graduate
students, for downloading information about Falun Gong and sending it out
over the Internet. The Centre reported that Beijing's Number One Intermediate
Court gave those six individuals jail sentences of three to 12 years.
The Centre said sentencing of the six students will probably occur in early
March. U.S. President George W. Bush was scheduled to give a speech at Tsinghua
February 21 to be carried live by Chinese state television. The United States
has long been critical of the Chinese government's human rights record and
has expressed concern over the crackdown on Falun Gong.
China claims Falun Gong is an "evil cult" which has led to the
deaths of at least 1,800 people from suicide or refusal to accept needed
medical treatment. Falun Gong's U.S.-based information center says more
than 1,600 Falun Gong members have been killed while in state custody.
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INTERNATIONAL: Oxford University Asks China to Release Former
SUMMARY: (2/20) - Britain's Oxford University has sent an open letter to Chinese
President Jiang Zemin describing its serious concern with a 13-year jail sentence
a former Oxford student received January 10. Dr. Xu Zerong, 48, was arrested
in June 2000. A court in Shenzhen gave him 10 years for obtaining and copying
confidential documents and distributing them outside China. He received three
more years for "illegal publication" of books and periodicals, according
to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Xu was a student of international relations at St. Antony's College at Oxford
from 1989 to 1999. A letter on his behalf organized by St. Antony's was signed
by 340 academics, public servants, businessmen and journalists from across the
world with an interest in China, the college said.
"The concern about the case relates particularly to the length of time
that Dr Xu washeld in detention before trial, his isolation during incarceration,
the severity of the
sentence imposed on him, and the issues of academic freedom involved,"
St. Antony's said. It added that as it appeared the national security issues
involved concerned the Korean War, the college could not "accept that analysis
of the military policies of any country half a century ago constitutes the leaking
of state secrets
." It asked that individuals studying such topics
in China be allowed to do so without fear of punishment.
Meanwhile, the wife of dissident Jiang Qisheng has asked President Bush to
raise Jiang's case with the Chinese government. Jiang was vice president of
a group of student leaders who met with Chinese officials during the Tiananmen
demonstrations in 1989. He was jailed for a year and a half following Tiananmen
and for four more years in 1999 for subversion. Similarly, the wife of democracy
activist Xu Wenli has asked that Xu be given medical parole. He has spent most
of the last two decades in prison and is said to be very sick. Other supporters
of individuals in Chinese jails also appealed for Bush's intervention.
And the U.S. government has submitted a formal protest to China regarding the
arrest of American practitioners of Falun Gong last week. The Americans said
they were physically abused by Chinese police after being arrested for demonstrating
The U.S. and China This
Last updated: 17 January 2001