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Thu, Mar 6, 1997
Beijing Feels Ethnic
Nationalism in Xinjiang

also: U.S. foreign policy; HK budget; on making a province from a city; and more. . .

Please read the statement of purpose.

Inside China uses an awkward scheme for maintaining its archives and current issues. The result is that current links to that publication will break everyday. I have gone through the links on this page and updated them, and tomorrow I will tackle those on the Recent News page. Note, however, that the Business Times does not maintain archives (at least, publicly accessible ones), and therefore links to there might fail.

Ethnic problems: Mukhiddin Mukhlisi, an exiled Uighur nationalist in Kazakhstan, has said that Monday's bombing of a bus in Yining was his group's "act of revenge for the crimes of the Chinese authorities", reports Inside China. Yining was the center of riots and bloodshed in earlier February. The paper quotes various Uighur nationalists in Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as elsewhere, who characterize the Chinese presence in Xinjiang as "colonization" and the practices of the Chinese as "genocide" against the Muslim minorities.

Note that this is the first mention, I have seen, of a bombing in Yining on Monday; last week's bombings occurred in Urumqi.

The story briefly mentions the event which sparked the early-February riots: the Chinese government says, the riots resulted after a Uighur criminal suspect resisted arrest by police. But the story gives no further information. Uighur exiled leaders, reports the paper, dispute this version and say the riots resulted from "China's colonial policy, genocide, a mass influx of ethnic Han Chinese and social economic problems of the Uighurs", said one Uighur leader quoted by the paper.

Taxi drivers in Beijing have been asked to pay special attention to Uygurs and Tibetans, while the National People's Congress is convened, reports the South China Morning Post. The article quotes the head of China's national police force, Public Security Minister Tao Siju. Tao denied reports that bombs had been found in the capital and that 'rebellion' had spread there. "I did not receive any information about bombs in Beijing. [A spread of independence activism in the capital] is impossible," Tao said.

The Chinese government has arrested suspects in the bombing cases, but the numbers of those "officially" arrested may be too low.

Vice-Premier Li Lanqing of the National People's Congress said, "Xinjiang . . . must further improve ethnic unity, protect social stability and do a better job of building up the region," reports the South China Morning Post

In response to bombing and other "terroristic" acts, a bill put forth in the National People's Congress will toughen punishment in order "to deal telling blows to such offences", the South China Morning Post quotes Wang Hanbin, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress.

Readers will find below and on the Recent News page more information pertaining to this important problem stewing in Xinjiang, under the heading of Ethnic problems.

United States: PBS News Hour has an interview with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Among the topics discussed were China and Asia. When asked why she traveled to Asia on her whirl-wind tour last week, Albright said, "Frankly, the reason that I also went to Asia, as well as Europe, was because we have equal concerns and interests and challenges in both regions."

On China, she thought the Chinese regarded Sino-US relations with seriousness and understood this was the case when they agreed to meet with her last week immediately before Deng's funeral. If the Chinese government had wanted, she said, it could have asked her to return some other time.

She also said that both countries understand that their relationship will be a multifaceted and critical one in the twenty-first century.

On Hong Kong, Albright said, the PRC government and the U.S. employ the "same vocabulary" in describing their interests in the territory. She said, for instance, both countries talk of "preserving the way of life" there. The test, however, is in whether or not the meaning of these words are similarly shared by both countries.

Albright thought, the PRC government understands that Hong Kong is important to China's interests and would want the transition to work.

It is interesting that Albright acknowledges the differences in "understanding" even among people employing the same "vocabulary." We do not have to look farther than the differences between the Chinese and English languages to appreciate her statement. We should also remember that much of the "modern" Chinese vocabulary (especially concerning political, social and economic ideas) in wide currency today came into the language through Japan and elsewhere mainly during the first few decades of this century. The meanings are still being worked out among the Chinese.

Sichuan: the proposal to make Chongqing in Sichuan Province the fourth municipality, alongside Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin has gone before delegates at the National People's Congress, reports the South China Morning Post.

When approved, Chongqing will climb to provincial status, and its administration will be effectively cut from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan. In many ways, the split has already occurred and the process unfolding in the NPC is mere formality.

The Far Eastern Economic Review published a story on this subject in its November 7, 1996 issue.

The Review interprets the refashioning of Chongqing as an attempt by the central government to deal more effectively with urban planning problems, by removing the city from the budgeting process centered in Chengdu. When the transformation has completed, Chongqing will have been incorporated along with three surrounding counties, creating an administrative space housing 30 million people.

The Review notes, Chongqing stands to gain from the Three Gorges Project when it is completed. "If Shanghai is to become the 'dragon's head' of the mighty Yangtze, Chongqing will be its rear, and the city hopes to sit on a windfall in increased trade and investment," writes the Review.

Hong Kong: the government announced its 1997-98 spending plans. According to the government press release, the plan was developed by the Budget Expert Group set up under the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group and is consistent with the Basic Law, "which requires the future Special Administrative Region to keep its budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product."

Expenditures on social services will grow to HK $19.5 billion, out of a total budget of HK $202.2 billion.

The new budget calls for increased expenditures on public education, especially at the primary level. Particular emphasis is being placed on programs for new immigrant children, language proficiency in English and Chinese (putonghua), and special education. Also, nine new secondary schools have been budgeted for completion by 1999, as have five primary schools for completion by the end of this year.

Economy: mainland China published its budget recently. 'Analysts Say Budget Realistic, But Problems Remain' is the Inside China article. The article says that savings rates are considerably high, and the government has tapped into this supply of cash by offering relatively high interest bearing bonds. This permits the government to finance its budget deficits without relying upon foreign monies, and to maintain a leash on inflation by drawing money out of circulation. The budget deficit currently stands at 1 percent of the nations GDP (the U.S. budget deficit is around 3 percent of GDP).

Also interesting is an analyst's comment that although 100,000 state-owned enterprises showed a combined net loss in the first quarter of last year, "the economy's reliance on them has fallen from 100 percent before 1979 to around 40 percent now", writes the paper.

Taiwan: according to Inside China, Taiwanese President Li Tung-hui and Foreign Minister John Chang will not meet with Dalai Lama, because they do not want to upset cross-strait relations.

See below for stories concerning important topics, including Jiang Zemin and collective leadership, Party politics, Military, Calligraphy and more . .

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China Informed

a news service focused on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong
©1997 Matthew Sinclair-Day