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Mon, Apr 7, 1997
Support for Human Rights Resolution Dissolves

also: Ukraine denies Taiwan minister a visa; Kazakhstan arrests Uighurs; more info on Asia Car; assessment of Dalai Lama's Taiwan visit; and much more . . .

Please read the statement of purpose.

Human rights: support for a resolution condemning the PRC for its human rights violations is more and more unsure these days. Beijing is "fighting like hell" to thwart the annual move in the United Nations body, reports Inside China. China has told Denmark in no uncertain terms that bilateral relations will suffer, if it votes 'yes'. But support from France and other European nations is dissolving, as they seek "discussion" instead of "confrontation."

The paper quotes a member of Amnesty International: "The commission is losing its credibility. It doesn't reflect the realities of the human rights world any more. There is a danger it may become a farce."

Premier Li Peng said this of France's decision to call for dialogue on the matter: "We highly appreciate this wise and far-sighted decision, and agree with President Chirac in his view that such actions against China should be stopped," reports the China Daily.

The China Daily carries the warning to Denmark here.

Ukraine: Economics Minister Wang Chih-kang's trip to the Ukraine next month has been cancelled because he has been denied a visa.

Kazakhstan: sensitive to pressure from its neighbor to the east, Kazakh authorities have arrested three Uighurs who had fled from Xinjiang and who had demonstrated last month in front of the Chinese embassy in Almaty. Inside China reports, the three are expected to be returned to China.

(See the Fri, Mar 21, 1997 issue for more information)

Trade: speaking with Chinese Finance Minister Liu Zhongli, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin warned his counterpart that renewal of Most Favoured Nations trading status (MFN) will be more difficult this year. Issues concerning China's human rights record, trade imbalances between the two nations, and alleged PRC involvement in US elections will be closely scrutinized by Congress and factor into the vote on MFN, Rubin said. The Clinton Administration supports the renewal of MFN. The two did not discuss China's bid to join the World Trade organization, reports the paper.

United States: the weekly column TRB in The New Republic last week focused on Al gore's tip of the champagne glass to the "Butcher of Beijing" Premier Li Peng. In our quest for clues for understanding American attitudes toward Asia and China this piece provides some insight.

Taiwan: direct shipping links are poised to open between Gaoxiong and Fujian Province, reports the South China Morning Post. According to a Taiwan official responsible, full air and sea links will not be opened until the mainland renounces the use of force to retake the island.

Dalai Lama: the Far Eastern Economic Review assesses Newt Gingrich's and the Dalai Lama's visits to mainland China and Taiwan.

The focus of the Review sotry is on the Dalai Lama. "While Gore charmed and Gingrich lectured, Beijing watched in horror as its rival government in Taiwan welcomed Tibet's exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama," reports the magazine. As the Review sees it, both Taiwan and the Dalai Lama benefited politically from the visit. "Yet their causes were served in markedly different ways. Taiwan garnered face in receiving a Nobel laureate, and drew a clear distinction between its liberal political system and Beijing's repression," writes the Review.

The Dalai Lama used his visit to underscore his message---that he seeks neither independence nor conflict with Beijing---and to reiterate his desire to work with Beijing and find a solution modeled on the "one-country two-systems" used for Hong Kong's reintegration into the mainland. The Review said, he drove this point home repeatedly during his six day. While praising Taiwan for its democratic reforms, he insisted he was a supporter of unification between the two China's.

As for Taipei, the government billed the Dalai Lama's visit as a religious one and aired on television old footage of the harsh and brutal methods employed by Beijing to quell unrest in Lahsa. "Taiwan clearly wanted to show that a democratic Han Chinese society could befriend the Tibetans," writes the Review.

But Beijing seems unable to react to these overtures and developments in a creative way, reports the Review. It has fallen back on its oft used rhetoric, describing the Dalai Lama's intentions and visit as promoting "splittism". As the Review sees it, Beijing is "preoccupied both with preparations for Hong Kong's reversion to Chinese sovereignty on July 1 and a seminal Party congress late this year." The magazine notes, Beijing declared that "early talks between the mainland and Taiwan have been ruled out."

Some analysts think, Beijing intended s to stall on the Tibet question and simply wait for the 62-year old Dalai Lama to die, reports the magazine. Meanwhile, Beijing in 1995 promoted and put in place "a six-year-old boy as the reincarnation of the second-most-important figure in the Tibetan theocracy, the Panchen Lama. Before doing so, it detained another six-year-old identified by the Dalai Lama as the true reincarnation-he now lives somewhere in China as the world's youngest known religious prisoner."

(Note: the Far Eastern Economic Review on-line service is free, but requires that users register with them and login, and therefore first-time users should first introduce themselves on the FEER registration page.)

Tibet: according to a snip-it in the Far Eastern Economic Review a Shanghai film studio has released a $1.7 million cartoon film, entitled Red River Valley. The cartoon is meant to "eclipse the release of Walt Disney's Kundun, which the government claims 'sings the praises of the Dalai Lama' ," reports the Review. Also on the same page: Taiwan test-fired two U.S. Hawk missiles in the Taiwan Strait on April.

Business: ( Asiaweek - April 11, 1997 ) we have more information about the Asia Car (see the Sat, Apr 5, 1997 issue). Asia Week is running the story on this week's cover and has a story pertaining to China's plans to build a low-cost family car---to do for China what bicycles did. We have known for some times that the plan has essentially been put aside because of the impracticality of letting loose so many cars in a country with poor infrastructure to handle it and a large population. But the magazine also tells us, Beijing invited a number of foreign manufacturers to submit designs. In the end, however, the "Chinese just tapped the carmakers' brains for their own manufacturing plans," writes the magazine.

The article also says that local politics figure largely in the automobile industry, as each province has dreams of manufacturing them, and state bodies fight with each other over their plans.

The China Daily reports on Beijing's car market, noting that: "Daily sales at Beijing's largest motor market, the Beijing Asian Games Village Automobile Exchange, have slumped to 100 vehicles from 200 in March. During March's month-long buying spree the exchange sold 36,000 vehicles, twice the number of sales in February." The paper provides other information about the auto industry and government regulations.

Taiwan: Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Cabinet's Council for Economic Planning and Development, will visit Central America to discuss trade relations with Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, reports Inside China.

Society: we have more stories on Qingming day (see the Sat, Apr 5, 1997 issue): "Deng Memories Subdued on Qing Ming Day" is a China Daily article discussing the mainland. In Taiwan scant mention was made of Chiang Kai-shek.

Development: the China Daily reports, construction of a thermal power plant in Shanxi Province will supply electricity for Jiangsu Province. "Construction of a thermal power plant in northern China's Shanxi Province, a major coal producer, has started to support eastern China's Jiangsu Province, one of the most developed areas in China."

Also reported in the article: The '97 Investment and Trade Forum for Co-operation Between East and West China closed yesterday in Xi'an.

"Statistics show that 306 agreements worth 4 billion yuan ($482 million) were made during the forum between provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Exactly 110 contracts establishing joint ventures in China worth $562 million were signed, while $425 million of the amount were from foreign investors, according to Li Dang, director of the forum's organizing committee," reports the China Daily.

Taiwan: Taiwan will remove its spys and operatives from the colony immediately before the handover on July 1, reports Inside China. Sure. It will rely upon local agents instead.

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China Informed

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