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Week of June 28, 2002

Week of June 28, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

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DOMESTIC:  Deadly Flooding Continues to Devastate China

After a three major waves of rain swept through China, 19 provinces and regions have been severally affected by flooding, which as swamped some five million acres of land and affected 57 million people.  In three of the hardest hit area–Shaanxi, Sichuan and Chongqing municipality–hundreds of people are considered missing, while the actual number of died remains unknown, reported the China Daily.   Given that the worst of flood season usually peaks in July and August, many fear that even more people could die this year than in the 1998 floods, when over 4,000 people were killed.   As more rain is predicted throughout the week, Chinese officials have issued citywide alerts in the financially hub of Shanghai, where estimates report that some 40,000 local households would suffer from this year’s rainy season.  More troublesome, however, continues to be the damage inflicted upon China’s poorer regions, leaving thousands of people homeless waiting for disaster relief.

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INTERNATIONAL:  China’s Navy Prepares Submarine Purchase

China and Russia have begun negotiations on the purchase of eight 636 Kilo-class submarines that would cost around $1.6 billion dollars, according to the Washington Post Foreign Service.  Once obtained, these additional submarines would significantly improve Beijing’s ability to blockade Taiwan and strategically enable China’s army to recover Taiwan by force.  China’s influence in the East China Sea would also be affected, perhaps even deterring an intervention by the United States, which has in the past defended Taiwan from aggressive Chinese actions and is Taiwan’s main military weapons supplier.

The eight submarines are part of a $4 billion weapons deal that Russia has committed to provide China over the next five years.  Four Russian producers are currently contending for the opportunity to build the submarines.  The new Kilo-class vessels will be equipped with an anti-ship missile system with a range of 140 miles.  However, according to a U.S. defense official, China has yet to develop an open ocean surveillance ability and thus still is unable to find ships at sea.

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INTERNATIONAL:  North Korean Refugee Stand off ends then begins Again

After weeks of high level talks, China allowed the 26 North Korean refugees holed up in foreign diplomatic compounds to leave for South Korea via a third country.  This decision is an about-face from China’s previous stance that demanded the refugees be turned over to proper Chinese authorities.  However, the day after the North Koreans left China another North Korean woman illegally entered the South Korean consulate in Beijing.  This seemingly constant flow of refugees has worried China who is concerned that a flood of North Koreans could get out of control causing domestic security concerns.  Moreover, Beijing has a treaty with Pyongyang that commits China to return any North Korean who illegally enters China.  To complicate matters, South Korea is bound by it’s constitution to recognize anyone from the Korean peninsula as a South Korean, thus making it illegal to turn away any asylum-seekers.  Both countries acknowledge each other’s positions, however the situation may get worse before it gets better.

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

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