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Week of May 24, 2002

Week of May 24, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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SUMMARY: (5/21) - Weeks of continuous rain have brought floods to the Yangzi river a month earlier than normal. China's central provinces of Hunan, Hubei, and Jiangxi have been hit hardest, experiencing severe rainfall since the beginning of April. In Wuhan, Hubei Province, water levels already exceed 25 meters, the highest level since records began in 1865. The water level in Wuhan has been rising at a daily rate of .35 meters and authorities are on alert as rainfall is expected to continue throughout the summer. According to state-run media, more than 23,000 residents have started working on dams in Hunan in the hopes of controlling the rising water.

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SUMMARY: (5/23) - China has released the family of North Korean asylum seekers authorities had seized inside a Japanese consulate two weeks ago. The five family members- two men, two women, and a 2 year old girl, were allowed to leave for a roundabout trip to South Korea. Arriving at Inchon International Airport the group received a particularly joyous welcome from relatives whose asylum bid last year also succeeded. Their release marks the end of a tense diplomatic standoff between Beijing and Tokyo. In response to Beijing's decision, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said, "Japan has been requesting that the Chinese side prioritize the fulfillment of the humanitarian needs of the five people. We believe China has considered the Japanese request in its decision this time." The Chinese government has thus far given no comment in regards to the departure of the asylum seekers.

Fearing retaliation from North Korean agents in South Korea, the family had previously prepared a statement and videotape asking to be allowed entry into the United States. They also described their motives for choosing to enter the Japanese Consulate, saying the walls surrounding the U.S. Consulate were too high for the women in the group to climb. A State Department official told reporters that the United States had not received an asylum request, but added that the U.S. was pleased China had resolved the incident in a humanitarian manner.

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SUMMARY: (5/23) - After allowing annual defense talks to fall into disuse two years ago, China and Australia have decided to revive the bilateral dialogue. The decision was announced by Australia's Prime Minister John Howard after a three-hour meeting and dinner with Premier Zhu Rongji. The talks had previously been abandoned after Australia's Trade Minister Mark Vaile made a trip to Taiwan in 2000. Relations were further strained by Australia's strong support of America's plans to develop a missile defense shield system. According to Howard, the revival of defense talks with China does not reflect a change in Australia's stance on Taiwan. "The Chinese Premier's agreement to the reactivation of the security dialogue was in no way induced by any statements, undertakings, remarks or reference to Australia's relationship with Taiwan," he said. At this point an exact date for the resumption of talks has yet to be agreed upon

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SUMMARY: (5/24) - In reaction to the Bush administration's moves to protect the U.S. steel industry, Beijing has announced plans to impose protectionist measure for their own market, escalating an already tense international dispute. Beijing plans to impose new tariffs, ranging from 7 percent to 26 percent on imports of nine types of steel products. A spokeswomen for China's ministry of foreign trade said the new tariffs would begin this Friday, and were intended as a retaliation against the duties on imported steel which the U.S. had enacted in March. Beijing also threatened to suspend tariff reductions agreed upon under the terms of China's accession to the WTO. These tariffs affect U.S. imports such as soybean oil, electric compressors, and paper products, and could cost U.S. producers $94 million in countervailing duties through 2005. The Bush administration declined to comment on China's steel tariffs, but Beijing's plans were quickly attacked by trade officials in Japan and South Korea. Officials from both countries argued that the tariffs would significantly hurt steel producers in their own countries.


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

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