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Week of April 12, 2002

Week of Aril 19, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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SUMMARY: (4/16-4/18) - A Chinese passenger plane carrying 155 passengers and 12 crew members crashed into a hill near Busan on Monday. The plane, Air China Flight 129, en route from Beijing to Gimhae International Airport was being diverted to Seoul when the accident occurred. According to survivors, shortly after passengers were told to buckle their seatbelts to prepare for landing the plane plunged into a hill which was later determined to be about 4.5 km away from Gimhae. Over 120 people aboard the plane were killed from the immediate effects of the crash and many others remain in critical condition. China has offered to aid Korean officials in their investigation of the crash, as has the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, however police report that poor visibility due to heavy rain and thick fog may be responsible. Survivors have commented that there was no explosion on the plane before the crash, an indication that it was an accident and not an act of terrorism. Investigators have located the flight data recorders which they plan on examining in the hopes of determining the cause or the crash. Furthermore, the Chinese pilot, Wu Xinglu, has survived the crash but has not yet spoken about the accident. Hundreds of police, military, and civilian workers are sorting through the wreckage, but their work has been hampered thus far by heavy rain, and poor road conditions.

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SUMMARY: (4/17) - Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji has called on Turkey to support China's efforts to combat what he referred to as "terrorism and religious fanaticism" by Muslim Uighurs in China's Xinjiang province. Uighurs in China's northwestern region share historical and cultural ties with Turkic-speaking people across central Asia, and thus raise concerns in Beijing about the possibility of Turkic support for the Uighur separatist movement. Beijing has recently intensified its crack down on the separatist movement, and seeks Turkey's cooperation in this effort. Zhu expressed his fear that some Uighur militants may try to enter Turkey to escape the Chinese military attacks, and asked for Turkey's support in preventing their actions. Zhu's counterpart in Turkey, Bulent Ecevit, said that Turkey opposes terrorism in all forms and all countries, but made no public guarantees to support Beijing's initiatives. Amnesty International has recently accused China of using the "war on terrorism" as an excuse to step up its repression of Uighur minorities.

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SUMMARY: (4/18) - Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Command, warned that China's growing collection of arms targeting Taiwan will eventually force the US to consider boosting the island's missile defenses. Blair addressed China's deployment of missiles while in Hong Kong to speak on anti-terrorism in the Asia-Pacific. Blair believes that if China's missile deployment is not checked, there will come a time when China's arsenal will be powerful enough to breach Taiwan's defenses. He is certain that the US will consider missile defense when that time comes. Furthermore, Blair said, if Beijing presses ahead with new deployments, an arms race is likely to develop, which will threaten the likelihood of achieving a peaceful resolution to the unification of Taiwan with the mainland.

Currently, China is thought to have at least 300 ballistic missile located along its southeast coast, within striking distance of Taiwan. Taiwan's defense ministry estimates that the number may more than double in the next few years, reaching 800 by 2006. However, for now, Blair said, China's capabilities can not yet make a decisive military difference. Blair also stressed that the military situation in the Taiwan straits is generally more stable than most newspapers indicate.

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

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