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Week of April 26, 2002

Week of Aril 26, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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SUMMARY: (4/20) - In an historic meeting in Tehran, Chinese and Iranian leaders have pledged greater cooperation between their two countries. President Jiang Zemin's visit to Iran marks the first by a Chinese leader to Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979. His counterpart, Mohammad Khatami, welcomed Jiang to the Sa'adabad Palace in north Tehran where the two leaders discussed Sino-Iranian relations and their mutual concern about growing US influence around the world. Jiang's stay in Tehran will be his last stop on a five nation tour which has taken him to Libya, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Germany.

While in Iran, Jiang Zemin and his official delegation stressed China's common interests with Iran. Beijing's ambassador to Iran, Sun Bigan, told Iranian television that China wished to reestablish its golden Silk Road ties with Iran. He also stated that China is critical of Israeli killings and believes peace in the Middle East will not be achieved unless Israel troops withdraw from occupied territories. President Jiang's visit to Iran is being hailed by some as a turning point in relations.

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SUMMARY: : (4/22) - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made a surprise visit to a war-related shrine, invoking the anger of Japan's neighbors. The Yasukuni Shrine, dedicated to the 2.5 million soldiers who died in battle since the 1800s, is the most controversial religious site in Japan. China reacted swiftly to Koizumi's visit, summoning the Japanese ambassador to Beijing to convey its outrage, calling the visit an "erroneous action that damages ties between China and Japan." China has also postponed a visit from Japan's defense minister, and will likely postpone a naval vessel visit to Japan next month.

In a statement issued by his office, Koizumi detailed his reasons for visiting the shrines, saying he made the visit during the spring festival to express his genuine feelings, insisting that he did not want to cause anxiety in Japan or abroad. Nonetheless, Koizumi's decision to visit the shrine comes with considerable diplomatic and political risks. Controversy over the shrine visit could jeopardize a series of high-level exchanges between Japan and its neighbors this year, analysts have said.

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SUMMARY: (4/25-4/26) - China's Vice President Hu Jintao arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday, the first stop in his three nation tour which will also take him to Singapore and the United States. The trip is considered Hu's most visible move to present his credentials and underline his position to succeed Jiang Zemin as head of the Communist Party this year and as China's president in 2003.

In Malaysia Hu met with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Deputy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for talks addressing everything from trade and investment to terrorism. On Wednesday, Hu addressed the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute in Kuala Lumpur, discussing China's independent foreign policy. "(China) opposes the strong lording it over the weak and the big bullying the small and has long pledged not to seek hegemony, not to join any military bloc, and not to pursue its own spheres of influence," he said.

In Singapore, Hu met with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, and the two leaders discussed how a proposed free trade agreement between China and ASEAN could be advanced. Both leaders agreed on the necessity of a quick start to talks on the agreement. Goh's spokesman said Vice President Hu had assured Prime Minister Goh that China is keen to launch negotiations as soon as possible. Last year, China and the 10-members of ASEAN agreed to work towards a free trade area within 10 years. Such a pact would be the largest in the world, forming a trillion-dollar market of 1.7 billion people.

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SUMMARY (4/26) - A recent report by the CIA warned that the Chinese military may be searching for ways to attack defense and civilian computer networks in the United States and Taiwan. The assessment concludes however, that China thus far lacks the ability to cause much disruption. A US government official declared that although the Chinese military can not yet disrupt key computer systems, "you have to be mindful of it and concerned they might have that goal."

The report found Chinese students to be a more immediate threat to cybersecurity. With the one year anniversary of the collision between a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft and a Chinese jet fighter over the South China Sea shortly approaching, officials fear a series of cyberattacks similar to the widespread hacking which occurred when the incident occurred. The CIA's report warned government policymakers, the Defense Department, U.S. diplomats and law enforcement agencies to be on the look out for Chinese student hackers trying to spread computer viruses or deface internet sites.

Toshi Yoshihara, a research fellow with the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysts, said that the Chinese military views cyberwarfare as "a way to overcome America's military superiority." He also believes that military officials could be seen as a means to keep the U.S. from becoming involved in a conflict across the Taiwan straights.

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

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