Taiwan Communiqué No. 73, December 1996

Taiwan is not part of China

China: "destructive engagement ?"

On the next few pages we highlight some recent developments, which need to be taken into account in the overall discussion of the relations between the West and China. In total, they show that at this time the Chinese leaders are still not interested in human rights, democracy and in abiding by a basic set of internationally-accepted principles. China is more engaged in "destructive engagement" than constructive engagement.

Chinese spy scandal in the US

On 10 November 1996, the London Times reported that the Clinton Administration was the subject of a massive Chinese spy operation, in which Chinese operatives were able to gather top-secret information on American trade and economic policy.

In the four-year operation, Chinese agents were able to take advantage of lax security procedures and a pattern of corruption in the Clinton administration to get routine access for their friends and associates to the highest level of the administration, including the Oval Office.

In return, China was able to lobby for the retention of most favored nation status, worth billions of dollars a year to Beijing, and have advanced knowledge of the American negotiating positions in trade and economic talks as well as access to trade deals subsidized by the US government.

According to the London Times article, both the CIA and Congress have started investigations into the matter. The article said that the First Bureau of the Military Intelligence Department coordinated the operation, which involved the Chinese Resources Bank in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Chinese Bank, owned by the Indonesian Lippo Group, which became infamous during the latter days of the American presidential campaign.

The key figure in the operation was John Huang, the Commerce Department official, who was given top-secret security clearance by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown without being run through the required background checks by the FBI or the State Department's Office of Security.

Arrest and sentencing of democracy activists

During the past few months several Chinese democracy activists have been arrested and sentenced. On 30 October 1996, one of the most prominent of the Tienanmen leaders, Mr. Wang Dan, was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment after a summary court trial. The sentence was upheld on November 15th after only a 10-minute court session.

Earlier in October another dissident, Mr. Liu Xiabo, was sentenced to three years in a labor camp for writing a petition in September, calling for greater freedoms in China, and urging President Jiang Zemin to resign. One of the co-authors of the petition, Mr. Wang Xizhe, was able to flee through Hong Kong and come to the United States. On 17 November 1996, the Washington Post published an article by him, titled "They can jail me and Wang Dan, but that won't stop the democracy movement."

In September, another former student leader, Mr. Guo Haifeng, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for "hooliganism."

Earlier, the Communist authorities in Beijing sentenced the founder of China's modern democracy movement, Mr. Wei Jingsheng to yet another 14 years imprisonment. Mr. Wei already served a total of 14 1/2 years hard labor for advocating political liberalization during the Democracy Wall era of the 1970s.

Renewed repression in Tibet

Destruction of Buddhist monasteries in Tibet

In mid-November it became clear that the Chinese Communist authorities had started yet another campaign of repression in Tibet. After a weeklong meeting in Lhasa, the central committee of the Communist party announced that "...the struggle against the Dalai Lama must be fought on all grounds, without sparing customs and traditions."

The announcement was accompanied by a full-page article in the Tibet Daily, a mouthpiece for the Communist authorities, in which they signaled a dramatic tightening of the religious policy, saying that religion would have to bow to communism. The authorities announced "...administrative measures to resolve the uncontrolled proliferation of religious festivals and shrines."

The Communist Party denounced the Dalai Lama and stated that in the struggle against the Dalai Lama, "...the basic question is not one of belief or autonomy, but of unity of the country." It called the Dalai Lama the chief representative of "...foreign forces that promote westernization and the division of China." It said it would crack down on Buddhist temples because "...since 1987, elements creating disturbances and sabotaging stability have been mainly lawbreaking monks and nuns."

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