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Week of May 3, 2002

Week of May 3, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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SUMMARY: (4/30) - China's State Council published a white paper policy document outlining Beijing's plan for coping with unemployment, and worker dissatisfaction. The report, published two days before China's Labor Day, highlights the government's growing concern with the threat of worker unrest. The document discusses growing unemployment, a trend which is likely to continue in the coming years as state-owned enterprises attempt to become profitable. It outlined China's strategy to deal with to the unemployment, including plans to create new jobs, improve welfare benefits, and resolve labor disputes.

"The Chinese government," the white paper declared, "is fully aware that the employment problem in both the rural and urban areas will remain sharp, and structural unemployment will become more serious for a long time to come." Beijing believes that to keep these problems in check, it must keep registered unemployment under 5 percent until 2005, sustain 5 percent annual growth in wages. As a means to accomplish this, China's government aims to create 8 million new jobs this year.

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SUMMARY: (5/1) - Hong Kong's top English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Press, has fired its Beijing bureau chief, Jasper Becker. The dismissal came shortly after Becker had complained that editors were softening the paper's coverage of the mainland, and raises concerns about Hong Kong's freedom of the press. Becker's departure from the Post is the latest in a series; Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a columnist known for his insider knowledge of the Communist Party, complained he was being muzzled and quit in December 2000.

Becker complained that the paper's editors were limiting the topics of his reports and eliminating certain controversial topics such as Tibet, labor unrest and AIDS. The paper has plans to expand its operations, and hopes to one day publish a Chinese-language magazine and launch an English-language paper on the mainland. These ventures would require Beijing's approval. While packing up his office Becker commented on the situation, saying "Now they want to ingratiate themselves with the Chinese authorities. They feel that's in their best interest, both their political interest and commercial interest," to limit controversial reporting.

Denying accusations of increasing self-censorship, a spokeswoman for the newspaper, Swee Lynn Chong, said the South China Morning Post is committed to aggressive reporting. She said Becker was fired for "insubordination, refusing to work under and report to the China editor." Nonetheless, more and more critical journalists are either resigning or being forced out, said Cliff Bale, a member of the Hong Kong Journalists Association's executive committee. Many journalists, he believes, are very worried about self-censorship, specifically in areas sensitive to the Communist Party.

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SUMMARY: (5/2) - China's Vice President Hu Jintao arrived in the US this week in his first visit ever to the United States. Hu, the heir apparent to China's presidency, arrived in New York City on Monday after a brief stop in Honolulu. While in New York, Hu paid his respects to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, bowing at the site of the World Trade Centers. On Wednesday Hu met with President Bush and other top officials in Washington, discussing Taiwan, trade, terrorism, and human rights.

Hu's visit with Bush was a largely scripted session which allowed both leaders to get some sense of each other. Bush told Hu that he is pleased with current U.S.-China ties, but also urged the Chinese leadership to respect religious freedom. Specifically he encouraged sensitivity to the Catholic Church and the Dalai Lama. On the Chinese side, Hu warned President Bush about the negative impact of improved ties with Taiwan. Bush, in response, reiterated America's commitment to the "one China" policy.

In a short 24 hours, Vice President Hu saw the president, vice president, secretaries of state, defense, treasury, commerce, labor, as well as various lawmakers on Capital Hill, and the President of the World Bank. When Hu met with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld he become the highest-ranking Chinese official ever to visit the Pentagon. During their meeting, the two agreed to designate deputies to discuss resuming military contact, which had been suspended after the EP-3 incident last year.

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

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