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Week of April 18, 2003

Week of April 18, 2003

The U.S. and China This Week


INTERNATIONAL: U.S.-North Korean Talks Scheduled for Beijing

Talks between the U.S. and North Korea have been scheduled to take place next week in Beijing. The scheduling of the talks has been seen as breakthrough in what had been a tense stalemate over North Korean nuclear development. Previously, North Korea had refused anything but purely bilateral discussions with the United States. Strong diplomatic pressure from both China and South Korea coupled with the fear generated by the quick military victory in Iraq has pushed North Korea to the negotiating table in a format in which China will serve as observer.

There is some fear, however, that talks may be jeopardized by recent news that North Korea has begun processing spent nuclear fuel rods into weapons-grade material. According to U.S. officials, although the move is seen as an attempt to strengthen North Korea's bargaining position in anticipation of the talks, it is such an blatant disregard for the purposes of the meeting that the president may begin to rethink the feasibility of discussions.

DOMESTIC: Standing Committee Issues SARS Order

China's Standing Committee has issued a statement calling for all officials to accurately report incidences of Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrom (SARS) throughout China. This comes in response to recent criticism from both the World Health Organization (WHO) and other medical experts of China's lack of transparency with regard to the rates of infection and deaths from the disease.

The World Health Organizataion (WHO) has investigating the spread of the disease throughout China, having sent specialists to the region in Guangdong, suspected to be the origin of SARS and is currently in Beijing attempting to monitor the increase in cases in the Chinese capital. WHO experts estimate cases in Beijing to be closer to 200 in number than the 37 officially reported by the government.

This announcement accompanied further disclosure that the Chinese government's count of those infected was greater than in previous reports. The most recent numbers put China's death toll at 67. SARS has been reported to have killed over 170 people and infected approximately 3, 400.




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

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