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Week of February 28, 2003

Week of February 28, 2003

The U.S. and China This Week


DOMESTIC: Bomb blasts Beijing Universities

The academic calm of two of China's most prestigious universities was shattered by lunchtime explosions on Tuesday. The blasts, which occurred at Beijing and Qinghua universities, shocked many on the quiet campuses. The cause of the explosions, initially suspected to be dynamite, were later described as homemade bombs most likely utilizing charcoal gunpowder. According to some students, the smell of gunpowder lingered in the air hours after the explosions. The first blast, which occurred at Qinghua University was quickly followed, only two hours later by a second at Beijing University's Nongyuan cafeteria. According to officials, most injuries were sustained by university workers, no students were injured by the blasts.

The motives for the blasts remain unclear and while responsibility has yet to be claimed, the police have refrained from attributing the bombs to terrorism. Both schools remained opened following the blasts with only the buildings involved and the immediate areas surrounding them being patrolled by security officials and police. In addition, police in Beijing remained on heightened alert because of the upcoming annual meeting of the National People's Congress in which the presidency of the PRC is expected to pass from Jiang Zemin to recently appointed head of the Chinese Communist Party, Hu Jintao.

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DOMESTIC: Earthquake rocks Northwestern China

A quake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit the Xinjiang region of Northwestern China on Monday killing over 260 people and filling the regions hospitals with over 2000 injured. According to officials, the worst hit was Bachu county with at least 158 residents killed. Much of the damage was caused because buildings, made of bricks of sun-dried mud, in the predominantly Muslim region were unable to withstand the shock of the quake. Troops from the People's Liberation Army were sent to the area to aid police and residents with the grisly task of digging through debris and searching for survivors. The rescue effort, which has involved the dispatch of thousands of troops, including reservists, has been slowly progressing. According to the Chinese media, over 8, 000 homes and 900 schools were destroyed. In addition, because of fears of further building collapses, many residents are attempting to sleep outside in what is near-freezing temperatures. China's Civil Affairs Ministry has shipped thousands of tents to the region in an effort to help with the situation. According to officials, this is the worst earthquake to hit the country in the last 50 years.


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INTERNATIONAL: Powell in talks with Chinese leaders

In an attempt to lobby China for support of a new UN resolution on Iraq, US Secretary of State Colin Powell wound up his three-nation Asian tour in Beijing. Although Powell looked extremely happy at the conclusion of his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and president-to-be Hu Jintao, Hu made the point that China continued to support a multilateral political solution through the United Nations, while simultaneously calling for direct talks to solve the problems with North Korea. According to Powell, the issue of supporting a new Iraq resolution was not pressed as the matter has yet to go before the UN. Instead, Powell stated that he had clarified the US position on the matter. The US hopes that China, which has Security Council veto power, will at the very least, remain neutral on the issue.


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

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