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Week of October 18, 2002

Week of October 18, 2002

The U.S. and China This Week

INTERNATIONAL: Annan urges China to confront AIDS problem

Speaking at Zhejiang University on Monday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that China is on the brink of an explosive AIDS epidemic. On a four day trip through China, Annan called on Chinese society to mobilize itself to combat the growing AIDS crisis which Beijing has only recently begun to acknowledge. Annan stressed the urgency of the issue saying, "We have to accept that this is not just a medical problem. It is a development problem. It is becoming a security problem. And it really can destroy societies."

The United Nations currently estimates that as many as 1.5 million Chinese citizens have been infected with HIV and puts the total number of deaths due to AIDS at 30,000. Officials warn that the problem could become much worse and estimate that 10 million people could be infected by the end of the decade if no preventative action is taken. Annan reported that most cases of HIV infection in China are due to the use of tainted needles in paid blood collections as well as the sharing of needles by intravenous drug users. However, he also warned that sexually transmitted cases are on the rise.

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INTERNATIONAL: U.S. and China Discuss N. Korean Nuclear Revelations

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly met with Chinese officials to discuss North Korea's admittance of developing a nuclear weapons program, in breach of a key 1994 security agreement. Both parties are not commenting on the contents of the talks, but the U.S. has stated its belief that Russia and China had helped North Korea develop an enriched uranium program, an allegation China denies.

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DOMESTIC: Central Committee Member Flees Corruption Probe

Gao Yan, a member of the China's Central Committee and the head of China's State Power Corp., has disappeared due to an on going corruption probe. The South China Morning Post reported that Gao fled China to an unspecific Western country. His flight to evade the probe has put the Beijing government in a potentially embarrassing situation as it prepares for the upcoming 16th Communist Party Congress, which could see major leadership transitions.

Gao's corruption link has political overtures given his company is closely linked with China's number two leader Li Peng. Li and his family maintain large stakes in the company and hold high-ranking positions in the power industry. Charges of alleged corruption have already been voiced against Li's second son, Li Xiaoyong, and a risky article in a securities magazine all but accused Li's wife and another son of using their political connections for commercial gain, a claim which the magazine was forced to apologize for days later.

Corruption has become the number one public complaint in China However, even though the government has held high profile arrests and convictions, investigations have not reached too far up the ladder where top leaders could find themselves discredited as well.

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

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