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Fri, Mar 28, 1997
Gingrich Tries to Be Tough on Beijing

also: DPP magistrate takes office in Taoyuan; more info on Dalai Lama's Taiwan trip; HK shadow govt. bickers with itself; US presses Taiwan on pork; and more . . .

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United States: Vice President Al Gore departed Beijing for Seoul today after meeting with a group of Chinese academics, reports Inside China. Mr Gore asked them questions concerning Sino-American relations, but no further details have been forthcoming. As the vice president was finishing his stay, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich came to town, peppering his arrival with a few choice words in Chinese. As Inside China says, Gingrich told Vice Premier Zhu Rongji that a frank dialogue would be needed to maintain the "guanxi" (relations) between the US and China. He said, "And it is very important that we talk candidly so that it can be 'youhao guanxi' (friendly relations), so that together we can create a better future for all people," reports the paper.

If we had been lucky, that would have been all Gingrich said. . . But as the New York Times reports, Gingrich arrived in Beijing and raised a number of issues with his hosts, including ones concerning religious and political persecution and the PRC's involvement in US domestic politics. These are issues of importance---there's is no doubt there---but the man talks too much and lacks any couth.

"The speaker's muscular formulation of U.S. expectations for China and his commitment to support President Clinton's policy of engagement reflected the political pressure on Gingrich as he tries to recover from an ethics investigation, even as new criticism arises over his ideological commitment to the 'Republican revolution'," reports the Times.

The paper writes, the speaker would like the Congress to have more input in US China policy but it is unclear how exactly this will work.

It's rather too bad we export our domestic politics in such a way. I wonder what Jiang Zemin and Li Peng think of him; I wonder what the US embassy staff thought . . .

In other news concerning Sino-US relations: the New York Times reports, the PRC has lodged a formal complaint at the highest levels of the Clinton administration over what it believes to be unfounded, malicious 'leaks' from officials in the administration to the media about China's involvement in funneling money to congressional candidates. China denies the allegations.

As the investigation moves forward the truth will be ascertained, but China's complaint underscores how fragile the relationship is. The problem also is that the PRC might be right: the way by which the press and ideologues have worked themselves up over the matter suggests there is something motivating them besides the issue itself---it's probably racist in some way, certainly ideological and uniformed about things "Chinese", but it could easily transform our China policy or make it very difficult to foster constructive dialogues. Indeed, China and her problems will not go away, and our views will always be heard, but the opportunity for our views to be LISTENED to might be lost.

(Note: the New York Times on-line edition is free, but requires that users register a name and password, and therefore first-time users should first introduce themselves on the Times registration page.)

Taiwan: Annette Lu of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the by-election to Taoyuan county, north of Taibei. Lu defeated the KMT candidate and has pledged to build an "environmentally clean, culturally rich and internationally-known municipality."

She said, she will return more "power and fortune to Taoyuan residents." Lu fills the seat held by Liu Pang-you who was murdered at his residence last year. Fresh elections will be held at the end of the year throughout Taiwan, except within the municipalities of Taibei and Gaoxiong. Lu has said she will run.

The significance of her victory is not only in that she has become Taiwan's first female high official, as magistrate of the county, but also in the power her party, the DPP, has gained there. I'll search for more information on this topic and report on it shortly.

Dalai Lama: we get more background information on the political considerations leading to the Dalai Lama's visit to Taiwan this past week. "Dalai Lama's long road to Taipei" is an Asia Times article recapping, among other things, the distrust by the Dalai Lama for both the communist and nationalist governments. "The strained relations are one reason why Taiwan has a Tibetan population of only a few hundred people. Until the 1980s, Tibetan rinpoches, or Buddhist masters, were virtually unheard of in Taiwan, and those that did arrive were mostly from the Kagyud sect, one of four denominations in Tibetan Buddhism. Few were from Dalai Lama's Geluk sect," writes the paper.

The paper writes, it was after the Dalai Lama's 1987 five-point peace initiative, in which he tacitly eschewed any drive for independence, that Taiwan's Tibetan & Mongolian Affairs office found a way to bring the Dalai Lama to Taiwan as the "spiritual leader of Tibet". It has taken many years to achieve this aim, and President Lee Tung-hui played no small part in establishing the context in which the Dalai Lama would be received.

Hong Kong: the members of the provisional legislature have been bickering among themselves about whether or not they want to be a truly deliberative body after all. "The row centers on whether Rita Fan, the chairwoman of the provisional legislature, should be entrusted with more discretionary power than has been given to the chairman of the present legislature," reports the Asia Times.

Taiwan: as Taiwan slaughters its hogs after an out break of foot-and-mouth disease, US trade officials are pressing Taipei to open its hog markets to US imports. Congressmen from hog-producing states in the US have written a letter to the US trade representative's office pressing this point.

Art: split personalities---"A senior Chinese official said here on Thursday at a film forum that film-makers should produce more and better films depicting socialist cultural and ethical progress. He also said they should gain more economic returns while attaching importance to their effects on society," reports the China Daily

Guizhou: here's a link for information specific to Guizhou Province in Southwest China. I've only passed through the territory on various trips to and from Kunming in Yunnan Province, but my impression is that the territory itself is rather beautiful and scenic. The province has always been remote and under-developed, and the mountainous and rough terrain has as much to do with this as anything. The area is populated by various minority groups.

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China Informed

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