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Is Engagement Smart?
The Yin and Yang of U.S. China Policy

Clinton in China
President Clinton arrives.
Welcoming Ceremony
Coming up:
The Satellite Scandal
Historical Perspective
Preparation and Arrival

Clinton Leaves Washington
Congress Blasts China
China Heralds Clinton
Clinton Defends Trip

FRIDAY, 6/26
Clinton Tours Xian
Users’ Chat With Harry Wu
China And The Internet

Clinton Welcomed in Beijing
Strange U.S. Allies

SUNDAY, 6/28
Clinton Tours Beijing
China-Taiwan Tensions

MONDAY, 6/29
Clinton Speaks at Beijing U.
    (live on Sunday night, EDT)

Clinton in Shanghai
U.S. Trade With China

Clinton Visits Shanghai

Clinton Visits Guilin

Clinton Goes to Hong Kong

Taiwan is not officially recognized by the United States, and has not declared itself independent of China. The U.S. “one China” policy means that while it may have unofficial relations with Taiwan, it recognizes only mainland China.

The centerpiece of President Clinton’s 1997 meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin was supposed to be a $50 billion, 20-year deal to sell American nuclear reactors, hinging on China’s agreement to cease nuclear proliferation.

China’s trade surplus with the United States will break the $50 billion mark this year.

China’s currency is called the renminbi.

The World Bank estimates that sulfuric oxide emissions causing acid rainfall in Asia will likely total 110 million tons by 2020, up from 34 million tons in 1990. China will probably be the source of half of those emissions.

The Chinese city of Benxi once disappeared from satellite photos because it produced so much air pollution.


Click a topic to learn more about the complexities of some of the key issues on the agenda during President Clinton’s trip to China. (Graphic: Mark Bloch/

By Terence Nelan
June 25 —President Clinton wants to deal directly with China, claiming that reaching an understanding with the rising Asian power is integral to U.S. policy.
     But as Clinton’s historic visit to China begins today, critics of his policy argue that Clinton isn’t telling the whole story.

Human Rights and Dissidents
President Clinton on advancing human rights
President Clinton has spent considerable energy scolding the Chinese goverment for being on the “wrong side of history” due to its widespread human rights violations.
     But to critics at home, the administration argues that the Chinese government is changing its ways. “The release of Wang Dan,” National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told reporters, “suggests that our continuing drumbeat on the subject of human rights does have an impact.”
     Nonsense, say many human rights watchers, who call Wang’s release a Chinese publicity stunt. China still has more than 1,000 labor camps, and many political and religious dissidents among their 8 million prisoners, they say.
     Beijing also considers Tibet’s Buddhists and the unruly Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang province seditious “splitists,” and a challenge to the state’s authority that must be ruthlessly controlled.
“Conditions got worse when we de-linked human rights and trade. There are more gulags in China than 10 to 15 years ago, and more people in prison for religious persecution.”
— Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va.
U.S. “engagement” with China doesn’t seem to address these human rights issues, or China’s controversial planned birth policy.
     Gao Xiao Duan, administrator of the Chinese govenrment’s Planned Birth Office in the town of Yonghe from 1984 to 1998 recently testified before a house subcommittee on human rights. She described a system in which women found pregnant without government permission are hauled off by enforcers to have immediate abortions, and others are forcibly sterilized after their first or second child.
     White House Spokesman Mike McCurry acknowledged the evidence, but suggested that they are the exception, not the rule in China.
     “China,” McCurry says, “officially prohibits … the use of force to compel people to submit to abortion and sterilization. But anecdotal evidence suggests that there is poor supervision of local officials. And that results in cases of abuse.”
     The statement that only local officials are responsible is both the Chinese party line and a lie, according to John Aird, an demographic expert on China. “These do not reflect the truth or any interest in pursuing the truth. They are utterly without integrity and in no way reflect what is occurring in China.”
'One China' policy
The U.S. policy on Taiwan seems fairly straightforward: The United States insists that it has a ‘one China” policy and will not back Taiwan in any future bid for independence or U.N membership. Still, the U.S. government has yet to put this policy in writing, and continues to sell Taiwan boatloads of modern weaponry.
     U.S. backing for Taiwan—a loyal ally and free-market democracy—along with “engaging” China could put it smack in the middle of a future Asian war. China has made it perfectly clear that if Taiwan, which it still considers a “rogue province,” declares itself independent from the mainland, China will invade.
     This is not an alarmist nightmare scenario. Last month, Chinese President Jiang Zemin put his top officials through a three-day examination of the country’s Taiwan policy, looking for ways to “speed up the reunification of the motherland.”
     The U.S. proved it was serious about defending Taiwan against unprovoked invasion back in 1996 when American carrier groups sailed to the region to show support after Beijing fired missile after missile into the waters off Taiwan.
     And a showdown could be on the way.
     Within 18 months, Taiwan’s increasingly independence-minded electorate could elect a like-minded leader, and China knows it. In contrast with U.S. concern with human rights or the Asian economies, China’s leadership believes Taiwan is of unparalleled importance, and is sure to confront President Clinton about the issue.

Weapons Proliferation
Sandy Berger, National Security Advisor, on weapons
In public, Clinton administration officials are proud of China’s record on curbing nuclear proliferation. Things sure have changed since the days when Chairman Mao Zedong pushed for more nuclear weapons in the Third World as a way to combat Western atomic hegemony.
     Now, U.S. spokesmen cite China’s signatures on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1992, the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty in 1996 and its agreement on a list of nuclear export controls last year as evidence of a growing “strategic partnership.”
     At the 1997 Clinton-Jaing summit, Chinese officials also agreed to stop selling anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran.
     But the signatures might only mean that Chinese leaders know how to generate good publicity, not that they intend to change their ways.
     Recently, the CIA identified China as the world’s “most significant supplier of weapons-of-mass-destruction-related goods and technology to foreign countries.”
     When confronted with Chinese transgressions, administration officials cite the long list of arms control agreements, and argue that behavioral changes take a long time.
     Meanwhile, U.S. policy is having short-term consequences. After India tested five nuclear weapons, it told the world that its demonstration was a direct response to U.S. appeasement of China and the U.S. refusal to stop Chinese sales of weapons and missile technology to Pakistan.
Weapons Timeline
A Chinese state-owned company buys aircraft manufacturing machinery from McDonnell Douglas. Eventually, spy satellites will show that the equipment is diverted to a military plant in Nanchang.
U.S intelligence services learn that another Chinese company sold 5,000 ring magnets—used as nuclear reactor components—to Pakistan, in flagrant violation of the nonproliferation treaty. Chinese officials blame rogue administrators for the sale, and the Clinton administration waives sanctions.
     Later this year, U.S. intelligence reportedly discovers more Chinese sales to Pakistan, this time industrial and diagnostic equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Six months before the Clinton-Jiang summit State Department officials confirm that China is still selling missile parts to Pakistan, and supplying Iran with anti-ship cruise missiles that could threaten U.S. or merchant shipping in the Persian Gulf.
Just weeks after President Clinton stands before Congress and certifies that China had stopped proliferating nuclear technology and materials, U.S. intelligence learns that a Chinese firm plans to sell hundreds of tons of chemicals used to enrich uranium to an Iranian organization. Confronted with the evidence, China squashes the sale.


Counterfeit CD's
President Clinton insists that China is on the cusp of becoming one of the world’s great trading powers. “Already China is one of the fastest growing markets for our goods and services,” Clinton said. “As we look into the next century, it will clearly support hundreds of thousands of jobs all across our country.”
     China is pushing for profitable membership in the World Trade Organization. As a demonstration of good faith in international laws, it passed stringent measures in 1992 to prevent illegal copying of software, music, videos and other intellectual property.
     But the laws are rarely enforced. The U.S. recording industry estimates losses of $300 million a year due to music piracy in China. Hong Kong has at least 40 factories turning out thousands of pirated albums or software titles per year.
     On the surface, China is a potential economic superpower, officiallly predicting 8 percent growth in its GDP for this year.
     Yet, the Chinese economy looks as if it could falter.
     Poorly run and heavily subsidized state-owned enterprises make up about 30 percent of the economy, and at least 43 percent of them were not profitable in 1995. Many of the 70 million workers in these failing factories are paid partially, late or not at all, and between 30 to 50 percent of the workers are redundant, according to the government’s own figures.
     China’s new prime minister, Zhu Rongji, has promised to reform these enterprises, but widespread firings would throw millions more out of work and could set off social collapse.
Foreign investment in China fell 19 percent in April compared to the month before, a ripple effect from the Asian economic crisis.
China’s export growth rate dropped from 9.2 percent in March to 7.9 percent in April.
America invests more in Colombia than in China.
About 17 million city dwellers out of China’s total urban workforce of about 200 million are unemployed.
Many of China’s major banks are insolvent, with up to 35 percent of their loans unsecured.
Ninety percent of Chinese bank loans are extended to useless state-owned enterprises, which use the cash to pay late wages.


Asian currencies are devalued against the dollar.
Many Western leaders claim China played a vital role in containing the Asian financial crisis by refusing to devalue its currency.
     “In resisting the temptation to devalue its currency, China has seen that its own interests lie in preventing another round of competitive devaluations that would have severely damaged prospects for regional recovery,” President Clinton said.
     But as Japan let the yen slide downwards recently, Chinese leaders got nervous and threatened to devalue their own currency.
     Here’s why: With the yen worth less and less, Chinese exports to Japan and to the rest of Asia are starting to dry up. If the Japanese devaluation triggers other competing devaluations, Beijing could let the renminbi slide too, to keep the price of its exports competitive.
     That could send the region’s economies into a free-fall. It would be especially disastrous for China, which needs 8 percent growth to compensate for high unemployment.
     If China devalues its currency while Clinton is in the country, it would be a public relations disaster for the Clinton Administration. Which is why the White House and the Federal Reserve engineered a $2 billion purchase of of Japanese yen to shore up the currency.

Building the Yangtze River Dam
President Clinton’s evaluation of China’s environmental crisis is practically the only area on which his critics don’t accuse him of ignoring reality.
     “China is experiencing an environmental crisis perhaps greater than any other nation in history at a comparable stage of its development,” Clinton said just before his trip.
     The human and economic costs of the pollution caused by China’s rapid modernization are staggering, and the long term health consequences are just beginning to be felt. The death rate from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is five times the U.S. level. Childhood mental retardation from exposure to lead concentrations is becoming more apparent. China will soon surpass the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases.
     Reducing outdoor pollution levels to the standards established by the Chinese government would save 178,000 lives every year, the World Bank estimates.
     And that’s not all. The cost of this pollution in extended hospital stays, sickness, lost production, canceled tourism, and such costs approaches $54 billion per year, which is roughly 8 percent of China’s GDP.
     As Clinton pointed out, pollution knows no borders. None of the World Bank figures take into account Chinese pollution that manifests itself in acid rain, water pollution, ozone depletion or carbon dioxide emissions that drift to other countries.


Special Report: Hong Kong Handover

China's Capitalist Army

Jiang Visits America

Bio of President Jiang

Wei Jinsheng Meets Reporters

Wang Dan Rejects Spotlight

Three Gorges Dam: Progress or Problem

Forced Abortions and Sterilizations in China

Organs of Executed Chinese Sold

Bio of President Clinton


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