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Wed, Mar 26, 1997
Normalizing Sino-US relations

also: Dalai Lama holds peace prayer; Taiwan flies in hog immunizations; Kazakh official comments on Xinjiang unrest; Russia & PRC strengthen relations; PRC navy leaves Manila with speech; and more . . .

Please read the statement of purpose.

United States: Vice President Al Gore's trip to China has received more attention today in the US press and elsewhere in light of his recent signing of two lucrative trade deals (See the Mon, Mar 24, 1997 issue for more details on this). Inside China reports that Mr Gore assured his hosts that the controversy in the US concerning alleged Chinese "vote-buying" in the last general election would not mire Sino-US relations, so long as the allegations are unfounded.

The PBS News Hour devoted its lead story to the trip and its significance for Sino-US relations. They had two stories: a background report and a discussion with Political science professor Kenneth Lieberthal and LA Times columnist Jim Mann, both of whom offered their perspectives on the matter:

  • Liberthal said the real issue surrounding the trip and Mr Gore's call for greater access to China's markets centers on China's bid for admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO). He said, from Mr Gore's rhetoric (see below) it would appear Mr Gore was "encouraged by what he heard in China".

  • Mann said, US companies currently face restrictions in China's market because they must deal through state-owned trading companies, and because of a series of "non-tariff barriers" preventing US companies from going in "and setting up shop there." With admission to the WTO these restrictions will be lifted.

  • Lieberthal said, "if we negotiate an agreement with China and then that agreement proves politically not sustainable up on Capitol Hill, it will be enormously damaging to our relationship with China. The Chinese simply won't trust either our goodwill or our ability to sustain a serious relationship. So this is really high stakes business."

  • When talk turned to Hong Kong, Mann said the issue concerning the territory was whether or not Beijing would uphold its civil liberties and freedom. Lieberthal, however, assessed the Hong Kong perspective on the matter:

    "I was just out in Hong Kong. I think the people in Hong Kong see this issue very differently from the way Jim Mann just expressed it and the way it's expressed often in the United States. They think China has absolutely every incentive to make this work. Their fear is not that China is going to come in there and impose a Chinese system; they aren't. The question is whether China knows enough about Hong Kong and understands it enough to manage the issue well. And on that there are real concerns. So the issue here is not really Chinese malice or desire to subvert Hong Kong. It's Chinese desire to make Hong Kong a success but maybe not having the skills to do it as well as we would like."

Here are some quotes from Mr Gore as reported on the PBS News Hour and by Inside China:

  • in a meeting with students from Qinghua University Mr Gore outlined the broad themes in US foreign policy toward China---it's a mix of traditional and contemporary ones: "Our vision is that we, the United States, and China, as friends and partners will share a prosperous and peaceful future, a future of free minds and free markets, sustained by a new consensus on protecting our environment and nurtured by justice, fair play, and the deepening sense of our responsibilities toward one another as human beings. "
  • "We believe economic freedom and political freedom are part of an inter-linked system and ultimately rely on one another."

    "China is in the process of a profound change and on its way to becoming something very different from what it has been."

  • in a press conference held after meeting with President Jiang: "I repeated President Clinton's message that we seek real progress on human rights, not confrontation. On these issues America's voice would not and will not be muted. I expressed the need for greater access to China's markets for American goods and services, all the more critical as our annual trade deficit with China has reached $39.5 billion. The Chinese have disputes over our method of accounting, but by any accounting China's surplus with the United States is large and continues to grow."

Dalai Lama: the Dalai Lama called on the mainland to begin talks with him. "It is my position that as soon as some positive reaction comes from China I am ready to talk without any precondition," reports the South China Morning Post. He denied he had ever been seeking an independent Tibetan state. As head of a theocracy, the Dalai Lama is both the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan government in exile. He said, upon return to Tibet he would step down as head of the government and hold elections for a new leader. He said he is interested in an autonomous, not independent, Tibet, reports the paper.

In other news about the Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama lead a 'peace prayer' in Taoyuan stadium, south of Taipei, reports the South China Morning Post. 18,000 people attended the ceremony, which was conducted in Tibetan and simultaneously translated into Chinese. Of the people who participated "They included Taoists, Catholic nuns, and members from Buddhist sects and the Taoist sect, I-kuan Tao," reports the paper.

Taiwan: President Lee Tung-hui will meet with the Dalai Lama tomorrow. Today he met with a group of 18 National Assembly members from opposition parties. He used the opportunity to say, Taiwan has learned from the Dalai Lama's mistakes and will not be duped by the mainland government into signing agreements only to find itself "eaten" by Beijing.

Mr Lee said, Taiwan would also learn from the problems Germany has faced in it reunification, although the article provides few details. He also defended the government's restrictions and regulation of Taiwanese business interests on the mainland: "Doing business and making money is a private matter, but national survival concerns the entire populace," he said.

Taiwan: the government is flying in millions of doses of foot-and-mouth disease immunity from England Holland, reports the China Times (Chinese BIG5 encoding). "The agricultural commission has stressed, the immunizations are uniformly free, and it hopes that any farmers who were charged would bring evidence of this forward so that the matter could be investigated," reports the paper.

Meanwhile, environmentalists in Taiwan have called for the army to desist from its mass slaughtering of hogs. Life Conservationist Association has called the troops methods inhumane and said, "From recent television footage, we saw squealing pigs were sent to the incinerators or buried alive," reports the South China Morning Post. The group also expressed concern over improper disposal of the carcasses and cautioned the government about possible ground-water pollution.

Kazakhstan: Beksultan Sarsekov, the head of Kazakhstan's Security Council, has expressed concern for growing unrest in Xinjiang, reports Inside China. "A certain part of the Chinese population is arguing for its sovereignty and would like to follow the Chechen scenario," the paper quotes him. Sarsekov was referring to Russia's bloody separatist conflict in Chechnya. "They (Uighurs) are bringing some instability to the region," and although he acknowledged the issue was a matter of China's internal affairs, he said of China's handling of the problem: "The Chinese authorities are resorting to harsh measures. We can as human beings feel and understand (the Uighurs)," reports the paper.

Hong Kong: Tung Chi-hwa will consult with the public for its opinion on China's proposed watering-down of civil rights acts in the territory.

Russia: Foreign Minister Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen met with Boris Yeltsen today. Qian is in Moscow to prepare for the forthcoming visit of President Jiang Zemin next month. The Inside China article (itself a "Reuters" dispatch) also reported that India's Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda was there. Qian And Gowda did not meet. But the article says, their visits come days after Bill Clinton and Yeltsen agreed to disagree on NATO expansion which "marks the end of the honeymoon period between Russia and the West that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. "

"Russia is now looking for allies elsewhere. China and India, which also have strains in their relations with the West, are among the most highly prized partners," writes the paper.

The China Daily has a story on the trip, too. The paper quotes Qian:

    The agreement to reduce troops along their borders signalled " two things -- the creation of strategic partnership between China and Russia and reductions of armed forces in the border areas of the countries concerned -- would put forward a new concept that is different from the thought of the `cold war', and would have a deep influence in Asia and Pacific areas, as well as the entire world."

Qian also characterized the agreement as an historical milestone in the history of their relations and predicted it would bring "a lot of things" to both countries. The articles stresses, the agreement was not formed in opposition to another country, and its aim is to provide and maintain stability in Asia and the Pacific.

Philippines: the Chinese navy vessels, which arrived in Manila on Saturday, have departed (See the Sun, Mar 23, 1997 for more information). Admiral Yang Yushu made a departing speech, and the Chinese Commercial News (Chinese BIG5 coding) reprinted it. I have excerpted a couple parts from it.

    "Friends, I know many of you have been to China recently. You certainly have seen with your own eyes the profound changes that have sprung up on various fronts in recent years. You could conclude about the current situation in China that it's economy is flourishing, its society is stable, its people united, and the government and people are in harmony. Although our beloved Comrade Deng Xiaoping has already left us, we have inherited his unfulfilled wish, resolutely putting economic construction as central to our concerns, adhering to reform and opening up, and raising the economy and the lives of each of the peoples to a new level. Of course, we soberly observe, on the road of our economic development, we will encounter not a few difficulties and challenges. The revitalization of the Chinese nation will be achieved by the arduous and diligent work of several generations of people."

    "This year holds much historical significance for all of the people of China. In less than one hundred days the Chinese government will have reclaimed sovereignty over Hong Kong, thereby wiping clean more than one hundred years of national humiliation. This is a sign of how the Chinese people, for the sake of a completely unified motherland, struggled for this important victory. We are completely confident, having achieved management and responsibility for the affairs of our Hong Kong compatriots that Hong Kong's future developments will be even better."

Labour safety: Beijing has ordered the closure of all privately run mines pending the completion of safety inspections. The move comes following an explosion a week ago in a privately run mine in Henan Province, reports the South China Morning Post. "The explosion occurred at a site about 50 kilometers west of Pingdingshan in the northern part of the province on March 20," reports the paper.

(See the Tue, Feb 25, 1997 and Tue, Mar 11, 1997 issues for related stories)

Development: "Tianjin backs coastal belt to build Bohai Bay into export giant" is a China Daily article describing plans by Tianjin to develop a coastal economic belt. A group of representatives from the municipality arrived in Beijing to make their case for the project. The paper quotes one member: "Last year, exports by our coastal new area surged 39.6 per cent from 1995, compared to a 16 per cent growth in exports in Pudong."

Chongqing: here's a map of the municipality. I don't think it quite reflects the new territorial jurisdictions allotted to it, but it nonetheless suggests the size of this "city state". Chongqing proper is difficult to see, but it rests atop a mountain overlooking the confluence of the Yangzi and Jialing Rivers; if you find this, then you've found Chongqing. The map comes from Chongqing's home page on which readers will find additional information about this important city in southwest China. "Chongqing has under her jurisdiction 9 administrative districts and 12 surrounding counties, with a total area of 23,000 square kilometers and a population of 14,600,000," it is reported on the page.

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China Informed

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