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Week of May 10, 2002

Week of May 10, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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SUMMARY: (5/9) - In the second accident in one month involving a Chinese passenger jet, China Northern Airlines' flight 6136 crashed near the northeastern city of Dalian on Tuesday night. The plane had taken off from Beijing and was nearing its destination when it plunged into Dalian Bay. According to Xinhua, the airplane's captain had reported a fire in the cabin shortly before air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane. A Dalian port worker was quoted as saying that the aircraft had made several circles before dropping into the sea with its lights out. Despite rescue efforts, all 103 passengers and nine crew members have perished, the airline has said. Over 30 tug boats and warships were involved in the search for survivors, but darkness delayed early rescue efforts. Thus far emergency crews had recovered more than 60 bodies along with various parts of the plane. Officials in Beijing promise a thorough investigation of the accident.

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SUMMARY: (5/9) - Tokyo summoned China's ambassador to issue a formal protest after Chinese police entered Japan's consulate in Shenyang, detaining two people thought to be North Korean asylum seekers. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has insisted upon a sincere response from Beijing for what he perceives to be a violation of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. Japan is demanding that the two North Koreans be turned over the Japanese authorities. China's ambassador to Japan, however, has expressed his support for the actions of the Shenyang police officials, saying they had acted for security reasons and had not violated the Vienna convention. A total of five North Koreans stormed the Japanese consulate on Wednesday, three were apprehended before making it past the entrance, and the other two were detained while inside the compound.

The incident is among the latest in a series of cases where North Korean refugees have rushed into diplomatic compounds in China in the hopes of receiving asylum outside the country. The same day as the confrontation at the Japanese consulate, two North Koreans refugees entered the U.S. consulate in Shenyang, and the following day, an additional refugee scaled the wall of the consulate, bringing the number of North Koreans inside the facility to three. The U.S. consulate's spokeswomen said U.S. officials were still working with the Chinese government to resolve the situation. These asylum bids have forced China to choose between honoring its bilateral treaty obligations with North Korea to send refugees back and protecting its international image.

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SUMMARY: (5/9) - Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has announced that he will send a delegation of Democratic Progressive Party members to the mainland later this year. According to Chen, the move is intended to jump start negotiations between Taiwan and the mainland. While visiting Quemoy this week, President Chen said, "The two sides must reopen the door to negotiation so as to reduce misunderstanding and miscalculation." Chen plans to send the DPP's director of the China affairs department after he takes over as party chairman on August 1. It is thus far uncertain as to whether Beijing would accept the proposed visit.

On Thursday Chen repeated a call for resumption of bilateral talks and extended an invitation to his Chinese counterparts to sip tea with him in Taiwan. Analysts believe that Chen's goodwill gestures are designed with his reelection campaign in mind. Dachi Liao, a political science professor at National Su Yat-sen University, discussing the proposed negotiations said, "Whether anything can be accomplished is another matter. But Chen Shui-bian wants to be seen as someone who can deal with China. It will help him in the 2004 elections." Thus far Beijing had refused to deal with Chen and remains committed to attacking the island if it declares statehood.

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SUMMARY: (5/10) - Li Xiuying, an 83 year old Chinese woman and survivor of the Nanjing massacre, won a key legal battle when a Tokyo court ruled she had been defamed by a book that accused her of falsifying her experience. Li's lawsuit was based on her assertion that she was a survivor of the massacre who had barely escaped with her life after being repeatedly stabbed by Japanese soldiers. She cited as evidence a film of herself in a hospital taken by a foreign missionary. "Big Doubts about the Nanjing Massacre," written by Toshio Matsumara, says that Li had falsely professed to having survived the massacre, and that she was not the woman in the film. The Tokyo district court ordered Matsumara, and his book's publishers of to pay Li a total of $11, 640 after announcing its decision on Thursday. The ruling, however, did not grant Li's demand that the defendants publish apologies in major Japanese newspapers.

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SUMMARY: (5/10) - Taiwan conducted its first ever public testfire of the locally made Sky Bow II surface-to-air missile. The missile has a range of 200 kilometers and could raise concerns in the mainland. The Sky Bow II is designed to eventually replace U.S. made Patriot missiles, purchased after the Gulf War. President Chen Shui-bian was on hand to witness the tests, which also included the firing of three U.S.-made Hawk missiles. All missiles hit their target and earned the praise of President Chen who said that without a reliable defense, Taiwan could not guarantee the continued development of its political system and economy. In his speech at the test site, Chen also said he has no desire to engage in an arms race with the mainland. Chen warned his listeners, "the situation in the Taiwan Strait seems calm at the moment, but Communist China has never publicly renounced the use of force against Taiwan." The main purpose of the tests, he continued, "is to build a force with sufficient self defense."

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

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