Week of May 24, 2002
Week of May
The U.S. and China This Week
DOMESTIC: BEIJING ISSUES YANGTZE FLOOD ALERT
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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INTERNATIONAL: CHINA FREES NORTH KOREANS SEIZED AT CONSULATE
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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INTERNATIONAL: CHINA AND AUSTRALIA TO RESUME DEFENSE TALKS
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
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US-CHINA RELATIONS: CHINA RAISES STEEL
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
Last updated: 17 January 2001