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---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---
Mon, Oct 20, 1997 edition
Summit Coverage:
an editorial on moving the discourse to a new plateau of understanding

Also in this edition . . .

1: Lee says direct links will not be made
2: Central Banks' policies result in capital shortfalls
3: with currency in flux, energy prices to remain stable in Taiwan
4: Jason Hu, head of US mission, to assume top post in Taipei
5: Lee and Soong team up to push KMT candidate
6: Ideology gets in way of 'modernization' for Taiwan's military
7: Hang Seng takes beating on fears of rising interest rates
8: government consolidates information technology jobs in six policy groups
9: Three Gorges Dam: diversion of river slowed by sedimentation
10: third in four installments on China's western province


Moving the discourse to a new plateau of understanding Jiang Zemin predicts great things from the upcoming summit, saying it will herald a "new stage of growth" for relations between the two countries. Relations have been strained in past years over various issues, and it would appear the two governments would like to arrive at an agreeable resolution or at least not allow them to sour cooperation on economic and strategic matters. China for its part has sent a trade delegation ahead of Jiang's arrival on Sunday in Honolulu. It will likely culminate in a spending spree, awarding contracts worth millions to US companies. On the formal political level Jiang is reportedly set to propose a new strategic relationship with the US, akin to the one formalized last spring in Moscow between him and Boris Yeltsen. Beijing would like to rekindle 'traditional' friendly ties with the US, and such language is descriptive of Beijing's diplomatic speak; in Asia, of course, the 'traditional' tends to point to histories stretching centuries in the past.

But a number of issues will still dog the president of China. Groups are poised for a vocal show down with his tour, as it meanders a course across the country. Those calling for China's government to reform policies which deny people their human rights have found common cause with those focused on Tibet and Tiananmen; and as Jiang visits the White House, they will be established across the street to remind him of the unsettled ghosts which still lurk in the shadows. In Hollywood Tibet is cast in similar light.

Of course nothing is ever what it seams, at least as far press reports are concerned. Complexity reigns over such an important relationship, and numerous lesser agreements and announcements will be lost to the larger issues of the day. Depending on who you are, the issues will orbit around a universe of weapons proliferation, market reforms, human rights and so on. But while we are sure President Jiang is brushing up on his English, we wonder how many non-ethnic Chinese in this country could utter just a mere greeting in his tongue. This is the story which will likely not be reported.

As the efforts of those camped across the White House serve one purpose, the solution to the issues for which they stand will not be political as much as it will initially be intellectual. And unfortunately, we would suggest, in this regard the US looms larger in the ambit of Chinese students, than China does in ours. The point is not to pooh-pooh those who would protest or to defend indefensible policies; nor are we retreating from prior stances on human rights, for any long-time reader would understand our position is clear and correct on this. But we might suggest that as members of a society which reaches for such noble ideals of liberty and democracy, we should also guard against fixating our gaze in a narcissistic mirror and instead, armed with artistic flare and scientific skepticism, launch out to investigate the philosophies, histories and esthetics of another society.

Numerous individuals and groups in the US are striving to do this. In Philadelphia high schools are forging relationships pregnant with possibilities for youngsters there and their comrades in Shanghai. In Grinnell, Iowa (population 8,900) a college administers a well-endowed program for nurturing faculty exchanges, a Nanjing teaching fellowship for graduates, and a Chinese department, as well as eclectic holdings in Chinese texts and art. And the examples from across the land go on . . . But it does not go as far as mainstream 'conventional wisdom' and media or the speeches of our political leaders. When was the last time The New Republic examined an issue through the eyes of Confucius? How often does USA Today feature an in-depth story on China's geography?

Predictions planted by Beijing portend of healthy developments in Sino-US relations, and we are glad to hear this. But we are afraid the main measure of these developments will be counted in the limited, but important, realm of economic and political affairs. It is time for us to move the discourse to yet another plateau of intellectual understanding. To do this will be remarkable in itself, and to achieve this without compromising our integrity in the process will test the strength of our ideals.

See also China Daily ( President's visit to US to enhance friendship )

China Daily ( Jumbo mission to spend billions )

SCMP ( Jiang seeks 'new growth' on US visit )

SCMP ( Clinton urged to raise fears over organ sales )

SCMP ( Human rights on White House agenda )

SCMP ( Leader sad that never the Twain shall meet )


Cross strait relations: Lee says direct links will not be made
( Direct mainland links ban will stay, says Lee ) Citing concerns over national security, President Lee said that direct links with the mainland will not be established. The announcement comes after comments made by Evergreen Group's chairman, Chang Yung-fa last, criticized the government's policy while on a trip to Beijing. Lee made the remarks at a greeting for participants in a regional development forum:
    'National security remains the major concern and is why the Government is refusing to lift the ban. Communist countries are not ruled by law Their uncertain factors may lead to unwanted negative results. As the national leader, I must be particularly prudent about the public's interests and welfare. We must be careful if the investment is way too big because it cannot be withdrawn when needed. Investor interests and the national economy might be affected.'

Currency: Central Banks' policies result in capital shortfalls
The Central Bank of China's support of the local currency has resulted in an acute shortfall of capital, and dealers estimate the value of shares listed on the bourse have shrunk at least NT$1 trillion (US$33.6 billion). The central bank's currency policy, however, took a twist on Friday when it said it would allow market forces to decide the NT dollar's value.

The sudden change was apparently prompted by the bank's failure to help the flagging bourse despite the cuts of reserve requirements. Analysts said the government hoped currency investors would stop speculating on the money market and pour their money into the bourse once the Taiwan dollar weakened to the value they envisioned.

The result: the NT dollar plunged from Thursday's 28.51 to Friday's 29.50, the lowest since Nov. 20, 1987; and the stock market fell 213.70 points on Saturday.

To give another shot to the stock market, the finance ministry also announced Saturday steps to ensure the shareholdings of major investors of firms listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

See also China Economic News is running Finance minister unveils four measures to rescue stock market. And the China Times has the following stories in Big 5 Chinese.,, and

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

Energy: with currency in flux, energy prices to remain stable
Chinese Petroleum Company (CPC) will not adjust the prices of gasoline and other oil products in the near future, although the cost of oil imports has increased substantially due to sharp devaluation of the New Taiwan dollar in recent days. A spokesman for the state-run oil company said Saturday that CPC depends on imports for most of its oil supply. Its import cost will increase NT$6,000 million (US$200.3 million) per year, if the US dollar surges one New Taiwan dollar in the foreign exchange market. The CPC is able to absorb the extra cost of oil imports for the time being, because the company had a surplus in the first three months of this fiscal year, he added.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Power Company has no plan to raise electricity rates, even though the recent devaluation of the New Taiwan dollar has pushed up the costs of power generation, Taipower General Manager C.H. Kuo said on Saturday. The state-run power company relies heavily on imports of crude oil, coal and other fuel for power generation. If the US dollar surges one New Taiwan dollar on the foreign exchange market, the company's cost of power generation will increase NT$1,450 million (US$49.2 million), he said. Kuo said Taipower is able to absorb the extra costs of fuel imports because its surplus in the last fiscal year amounted to NY$30.4 billion.

Diplomacy: Jason Hu, head of US mission, to assume top post
Taiwan's chief representative to the United States, Jason Hu, on Saturday praised his successor Stephen Chen as a devoted and capable diplomat. He said he is confident of Chen's ability to help strengthen ROC-US ties.

Chen, 63, arrived in Washington, D.C. on Saturday afternoon. He held a news conference in the Twin Oaks compound, the former ROC embassy in the US , to meet with the local Chinese-language press shortly after his arrival. On Monday, he is scheduled to visit the Washington headquarters of the American Institute in Taiwan and meet with Chairman Richard Bush.

Jason Hu, the sixth representative to the US since the two countries severed diplomatic ties in 1979, will replace John Chang in the top post at the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

Bush said that Chen is a distinguished diplomat, who has served in the United States on four previous occasions, including a tenure as the ROC deputy representative there between 1989-1993. He said he looked forward to cooperating with Chen to create a close and productive relationship.

See also Taipei sees no change in policy

Campaign: Lee and Soong team up to push KMT candidate
Although recent polls have suggested that the Democratic Progressive Party could win a majority of seats next month in elections for county chiefs and mayors, Taiwan Governor James Soong appeared with President Lee Teng-hui for the first time since this summer, when government plans to dismantle his provincial administration deeply embittered him towards Lee.

Shaking hands and standing together on a stage in the Panchiao auditorium, Soong and Lee took turns with other party leaders speaking in support of Hsieh Shen-shan, the Kuomintang candidate for Taipei County commissioner

Their presence, after months of discord, underscored the importance of the ruling party. The largest county on the island, Taipei County, has been governed by the opposition DPP for eight years.

Lee told the crowd estimated between 30,000 and 40,000 that only Hsieh Shen-shan can solve the problems of these eight years of hardship.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

Military: Ideology gets in way of 'modernization'
General Lo Pen-li, chief of the general staff, told a military seminar Saturday that controls over ideology lessons in the armed forces will be loosened.

Lo said the courses' aim of turning "everyone into a revolutionary fighter" is "too supreme to be achieved." He added, the ideology courses were the biggest barrier to the military's modernization push.

At present, all military units are required to watch a 90-minute television program and attend panel discussions every Thursday, for what the military called "Day for Glory of Chu." Soldiers were supposed to be reminded of the ancient Chinese historical figure Tien Tan, who apparently in the period 475-221 B.C. overcame his enemy and rebuilt his kingdom from the sole castle-town of Chu.

Lo said an ad hoc committee had been set up to press for the military reform, under which ideology courses would be cut and some departments of the Political Warfare College would be closed.


Stock market: Hang Seng takes beating on fears of rising interest rates
( Rates fears hammer stocks ) Fears of interest rate rises and the knock-on effect of regional market turmoil brought the Hang Seng down: "The Hang Seng Index plummeted 630.13 points, or 4.63 per cent, to close at 12,970.88. It was the first finish below the 13,000-point mark since late April," writes the South China Morning Post. More information is in the article. . .

Technology: government consolidates information technology jobs in six policy groups
( Data technology change ) The government will adjust the portfolios of six policy groups in order to consolidate the way information technology is handled in each, reports the South China Morning Post. The paper writes, "The six are: Finance; Economic Services; Trade and Industry; Broadcasting, Culture and Sports; Home Affairs, and Education and Manpower."

The initiative comes in the wake of Tung Chi-hwa's policy statements on Wednesday, October 8, in which he outlined the government's intentions to bring Hong Kong into the forefront of information technology and its management. The move also comes after last week's announcement that the government would phase in a system requiring textile traders to submit licensing information via electronic means.

Labour: ( Jobless rate hits two-year low ) "A sharp decline in unemployment in the transport and manufacturing sectors has resulted in the lowest quarterly jobless rate for two years," reports the South China Morning Post.


Three Gorges dam: diversion of river slowed by sedimentation
( Yangtze resists plan for new direction ) The South China Morning Post reports that a diversionary canal, designed to re-route the Yangzi river to make way for the damming of the river, has been fouled by heavy silting. Efforts have been undertaken to engineer a solution to the problem. If unresolved the project may miss its November 8 deadline blocking the river.

Xinjiang: third in four installments on China's western province
( Bayangol works to protect Bosten ) Reporter Zhao Huanxin writes about water problems in Bosten. . . .

Cambodia: Journal: On Its Last Legs, the Saddest Cambodian Army is a New York Times story.

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China Informed

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