Week of March 29, 2002
Week of March 29, 2002
The U.S. and China This Week
DOMESTIC: CHINA LAUNCHES UNMANED SPACESHIP
SUMMARY: (3/26) - China's Shenzhou III aircraft lifted off Monday evening
from the Jiuquan launch center in Gansu province. President Jiang Zemin
was on hand to witness the event, hailing the launch as evidence of the
Chinese people's spirit. China Central Television devoted considerable airtime
to the launch, underscoring the significance Beijing attaches to its space
program. President Jiang was shown repeatedly during the broadcast, smiling
broadly as he watched the rocket's flight on monitors at the launch center.
The president was dressed in military-style clothing, emphasizing the space
program's close ties to the military.
China hopes to join Russia and the United States as the only nations to
have sent a person into space. Although uncertain of how soon this might
be accomplished, Beijing aims to launch a manned aircraft by the end of
the decade. The Shenzhou III is a prototype capsule equipped to handle human
life, and is carrying dummy astronauts and equipment to simulate and monitor
human vital signs. The craft will orbit the earth for a couple of days before
the re-entry module separates from the orbital module and returns to earth.
The orbital module will then continue to orbit the earth for several months.
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US-CHINA RELATIONS: US WARSHIPS DENIED HONG KONG PORT CALL
SUMMARY: (3/26) - China has blocked a US warship from making a port call
in Hong Kong. The US had issued a request to allow the USS Curtis Wilbur,
a guided missile destroyer from the Seventh Fleet, to visit Hong Kong this
April. Beijing rejected the request, but has given no reason for the disapproval.
US warships regularly visited Hong Kong while it was under British rule,
injecting several million dollars into the Hong Kong economy with each port
call. Under the terms of the handover to Chinese rule, Beijing is responsible
for Hong Kong's foreign affairs. Thus although Hong Kong still maintains
wide-ranging autonomy, US warships must apply to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs for permission to call at Hong Kong. Since 1997, Beijing has occasionally
denied such requests as a way of protesting US actions.
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DOMESTIC: RETIREES STAGE PROTEST
SUMMARY: (3/27) - Retired car workers staged a protest Wednesday at the
Beijing Automobile and Motorcycle Works factory. Retirees had arrived at
the gates of the factory expecting to meet with management, but found themselves
locked out. After being assured that their complaints would be addressed
by factory officials the following day, the demonstration ended peacefully.
The protest is the latest in a rash of demonstrations held by laid-off workers
who are upset over a missing back pay and a lack of compensation for retirement
The retirees had arrived at the factory to discuss overdue pension payments.
They claimed that pension payments had decreased to virtually nothing since
a series of deductions began around 1990, and that the protest began only
after they were barred from taking their grievances to the company. Some
pensioners claimed the factory owed them up to four years worth of welfare,
housing, and medical compensation. Their discontent increased after the
factory sold land to CCTV last year for a profit but made no payments to
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US-CHINA RELATIONS: NSB SCANDAL TAINTS TAIWANESE LOBBYISTS
SUMMARY: (3/28) - Taiwanese Presidential senior advisor Yao Chia-wen recently
met with congressional aides and various Washington think tank scholars
in an attempt to gather opinions on the National Security Bureau spy scandal.
The NSB allegedly set aside NT $3.5 billion in two secret slush funds, with
which it used to buy political favors overseas. After speaking with his
wife in Taiwan, Yao told reports in Washington that more details of the
scandal will likely be revealed. Congressional staffers assured Yao that
they are not overly concerned with what has been revealed so far, but warned
that they may become increasingly concerned as new information comes to
light. Think tank scholars also expressed concern that as more information
and more names are made public, those who support Taiwan will increasingly
be suspected of involvement. This raises concerns in Taiwan that the recent
revelations will damage it ability to effectively lobby the US Congress.
Currently, only two officials in the Bush administration have been implicated
in the scandal, Carl W. Ford, Jr., the Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Intelligence and Research and James Kelly, the Assistant Secretary of State
for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Ford, an influential Taiwan lobbyist,
allegedly received NT $400,000 in late 1999 and early 2000 from the Lee
Teng-hui administration. Kelly has been accused of shuffling funds from
Taiwan to Japan while heading the Center for Strategic and International
Studies' Pacific Forum in Honolulu. So far, neither Ford nor Kelly has commented
on the affair.
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DOMESTIC: PLA SEEKS TO MODERNIZE WEAPONS
SUMMARY: (3/29) - The People's Liberation Army has opened a campaign
to modernize its stock of weapons. President Jiang Zemin's recent remarks
at the launching of the Shenzhou spacecraft initiated the propaganda
campaign, which is believed to be indicative of the PLA's increasing
concern over perceived threats from the US. In Jiang's remarks, he expounded
on the necessity of developing high technology as a means to strengthen
China's military prowess. Cao Gangchuan, the Head of the General Armaments
Department, called on the PLA forces to head Jiang's instruction. Cao
was quoted in the official Liberation Army Daily as saying the PLA must
"ceaselessly win new triumphs in military high technology and in
the construction of weapons and equipment." Several PLA units are
also holding classes to study President Jiang's exhortations.
The U.S. and China This
Last updated: 17 January 2001