Saturday, April 30, 2005

China Says its President will Meet Other National Leaders in Moscow

Chinese President Hu Jintao will hold talks with the leaders of Russia, Britain and France next month during commemorations in Moscow of the end of the Second World War.

An official announcement in Beijing Saturday says it is not known whether Hu will meet with President Bush, who will be among scores of leaders attending ceremonies marking the end of the European phase of the war.

China's assistant foreign minister Li Hui says President Hu will discuss international and regional issues in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The official added that there are no plans for a meeting in Moscow between the Chinese leader and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

China says Hu also will hold talks with the leaders of South Korea, Turkmenistan and Romania.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Communist and KMT Leaders Meet

A meeting between leaders of China's historic rivals, the Communist and Nationalist Parties, has taken place in Beijing.

It was the first time a Communist Party chairman had met a Nationalist Party leader since the Nationalists, the Kuomintang, fled to Taiwan following their defeat to Communist forces in 1949.

President Hu Jintao, who is also chairman of the Communist Party, welcomed Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan Friday.

Hu said Lien's coming is a great thing for relations between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang, and for cross-strait relations.

Lien's visit, however, came amid an intensifying debate in Taiwan over whether the island should contemplate eventual reunification with the mainland or pursue formal independence.

Critics have accused Lien, who lost a presidential bid last year, of using the visit as an attempt to undermine Taiwan's pro-independence president, Chen Shui-bian.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

EU Approves Investigation of Surging Chinese Textile Sales

The European Union has formally launched an investigation into surging Chinese textile sales, a move that could lead the EU to limit those imports.

European Commission members approved the investigationThursday, amid growing concerns by EU members that Chinese textile imports have flooded European markets since a worldwide quota system expired January 1.

Officials say the investigation can last up to 60 days - and after that period limits could then be imposed.

France, however, is calling for the EU to bypass the investigation and instead take emergency actions to limit the quantity of imports.

China has criticized the EU move, warning it could have a negative impact on relations.

The United States is also looking into the impact that increased Chinese textile imports is having on its textile producers.

Historic Meeting Set for Friday

Taiwan's Nationalist Party leader Lien Chan is preparing to deliver a message of peace to Chinese President Hu Jintao. Analysts are calling the meeting - scheduled for Friday in Beijing - a landmark in relations between two longtime enemies.

Children bearing flowers welcomed Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan Thursday on the tarmac of the Beijing airport. It was one more example of the warm treatment the Taiwanese opposition Nationalist Party leader has received since Tuesday - becoming the first Kuomintang head to set foot on the mainland since the Nationalists fled to Taiwan following their defeat to Communist forces in 1949.

Lien is scheduled to meet Friday with President Hu Jintao, who chairs the Chinese Communist Party. The Taiwanese politician told reporters at the airport Thursday he seeks to bridge 56-year-old divisions across the Taiwan Strait.

"How to create a peaceful and win-win future through dialogue is the common aspiration of people on both sides - a historical responsibility we must shoulder and an unpreventable public opinion trend," he said.

Critics in Taiwan have labeled Lien a traitor for coming to the mainland and have accused him of allowing himself to be used by Beijing to further split political forces in Taiwan. Factions are more than ever divided between those who want formal independence and those who do not rule out eventual reunification with the Communist mainland.

Analysts say that after more than half a century, the former bitter enemies appear to have found common ground: both the Taiwan Nationalists and the mainland Communists oppose the agenda of pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian.

Some see the historic weeklong visit as an opportunity to ease tensions that have risen sharply since last month when Beijing passed an anti-secession law giving the mainland a legal basis to attack the democratically ruled island if it formally declares independence.

Lien has no legal power to sign agreements with the mainland. But analysts say his visit is a step toward resuming dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, which has been suspended for five years.

The United States, which has warned both sides not to take unilateral actions that could raise tensions in the Taiwan Strait, has welcomed Lien's visit to the mainland. The White House this week said it hopes Beijing will continue to reach out to Taiwan's leadership, saying diplomacy is the only way to resolve the cross-strait issue.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

NBA Star Honored as Model Worker

China's communist government has officially named National Basketball Association center Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets a "model worker," an honor usually given to less well-known people.

The Xinhua News Agency reports that Yao was chosen Wednesday along with Olympic hurdles gold medalist Liu Xiang. It was the first time that a multi-millionaire professional athlete has been given the honor.

Some Chinese criticized Yao's nomination because they say the award was meant to honor ordinary workers who devote themselves to Marxist principles.

The 2.26-meter-tall Yao is a three-time NBA All-Star player with Houston. He is averaging more than 18 points and eight rebounds per game. Forbes magazine reports that in addition to his $4.5 million salary, Yao earned nearly $10 million in endorsements in 2004.

Liu won the gold medal in the men's 110-meter hurdles at last year's Olympics in Athens. He was the first Chinese athlete to win the event and set an Olympic record of 12.91 seconds in the race.

Beijing will host the 2008 summer Olympic Games.

Hong Kong Democracy Advocates Say New Rules Threaten Autonomy

China's top legislative committee has ruled to reduce the next Hong Kong leader's term to two years instead of five. Pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong are protesting the move, saying it threatens the former British colony's autonomy from the Communist mainland.

The debate over how long the next leader of Hong Kong should serve started last month with the resignation of Tung Chee-hwa, who stepped down as chief executive two years short of completing what was supposed to be a second five-year term.

The National People's Congress standing committee ruled on Wednesday that the new leader, to be chosen in July, would serve only the remaining part of Tung's term.

Pro-democracy legislators, who oppose a strong role by Beijing, had called for a new Hong Kong leader to serve a full five-year term. Advocates say the Hong Kong courts should have settled the debate instead of Beijing. In angry remarks at the Hong Kong Legislative Council Wednesday, Independent legislator Leung Kwok Hung accused Beijing of acting unilaterally and against the will of the people.

"I protest against Beijing's interpretation of the Basic Law. I think it's an insult to the Hong Kong people," he said.

Pro-democracy advocates are upset over what they see as Beijing's disregard for the region's basic law and autonomy.

The Hong Kong government welcomed the interpretation by the NPC committee saying it effectively settles the term issue. In a statement issued shortly after the ruling, the government stressed referring the matter to Beijing was legal under Hong Kong's constitution, known as the Basic Law.

Hong Kong's government asked Beijing to handle the term dispute, fearing that giving the decision to the courts could result in prolonged legal battles that might delay the selection process.

An 800-member committee made up largely of pro-Beijing representatives is scheduled to pick the new chief executive for Hong Kong on July 10.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Catholic Priests Arrested

Leaders of China’s underground Roman Catholic Church report that Father Zhao KeXun, a priest and administrator in charge of the Diocese of Xuanhua, in Hebei, was abducted by Chinese government security personnel on March 30. Father Zhao, who is said to be 75 years old, was reportedly arrested en route to his home in Zhaijiazhuang, from a nearby town, after celebrating Mass in a private home. His whereabouts and condition are unknown.

Underground church sources say Father Zhao’s arrest was immediately followed by the arrests of two other elderly priests—Father Wang JinLing, of Zhangjiakou, who has not been seen or heard from since he was detained on March 31, and Bishop Yao Liang, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Xiwanzi, in Hebei, who was arrested on April 1.

Like Father Wang, Bishop Yao is in his early 80s. Before his arrest, he reportedly had been under mounting pressure from the Chinese authority to sever ties with the Pope and join the official Catholic Church (the Patriotic Association). His whereabouts and condition are also unknown.

Chinese authorities are also said to be intensifying surveillance of two underground bishops. Hao JingLi, 89, of Xiwanzi, and Jia ZhiGu, 71, of Zhengding, are reportedly under 24-hour surveillance by Chinese security personnel.

Most of China's estimated 12-15 million Catholics worship underground.

China has no diplomatic relations with the Vatican, which recognizes Taiwan.

Commerce Ministry Criticizes EU Investigation of Textile Imports

China is criticizing the European Union's decision to investigate surging imports of Chinese textile products.

In a statement on its web site, the Chinese Commerce Ministry says the EU move runs counter to the spirit of free trade, and could have a negative impact on bilateral relations.

The EU is looking at Chinese textiles flooding into European markets since a worldwide quota system expired January 1. The EU says imports of some Chinese textile have risen as much as 500 percent since then.

The probe could lead the EU to impose limits those products.

The United States is also looking into the impact that increased Chinese textile imports is having on its textile producers.

Media Watchdogs Crack Down

Centuries ago, a persecuted Japanese Buddhist sage encouraged his followers to remain steadfast in their religious beliefs by reminding them that "spring always follows winter." When it comes to China's politically sensitive media sector, the opposite seems to be true: a late fall-early winter thaw, which excited some of the world's largest media companies, has been followed by a spring freeze.

Beijing has turned sharply against foreign media ventures, including television programming co-production arrangements. China Confidential has learned that China's media regulators, who only six months ago had promoted a new opening to the world, are determined to slow down the pace of media liberalization.

Until further notice, qualified foreign companies will be limited to one joint venture each. Many of these companies had flooded the regulators with applications.

The new climate is a major disappointment to foreign media companies--from giant conglomerates to startups seeking a piece of the action--and their investment bankers for whom China represented the key to expansion, growth and profitability.

China has more than 350 million TV sets in use. A popular program can attract hundreds of millions of viewers.

The crackdown on foreign media ventures parallels a renewed emphasis on the domestic and overseas importance of China Central Television (CCTV). Inspired by the success of the Arabic satellite news channel Al Jazeera, Beijing is nowadays more interested in building CCTV into an international counterweight to US networks and the BBC than helping foreign companies capture a share of the China media market.

Rescuers Save 39 Coal Miners

Rescuers have found 39 coal miners alive in a flooded mine in northeast China and brought them to the surface.

The Tengda coal mine in Jiaohe city, Jilin province, was flooded Sunday when water from a neighboring mine gushed into the shaft, trapping 69 men working deep underground. Thirty miners are still missing. The Tengda Coal Mine is run by the local township, which has a license for its operation.

In a separate coal-mine accident, eight workers are dead and four are still missing in Yuzhou City in central Henan province.

China's mines are the most dangerous in the world. Explosions, flooding and cave-ins kill thousands of miners every year.

Taiwan Nationalist Arrives in China, First KMT Chief to Visit Since '49

The head of Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang has arrived in China - the first such visit by a nationalist party leader since the end of the Chinese civil war 56 years ago.

Kuomintang chairman, Lien Chan, arrived Tuesday to a warm welcome by Chinese officials in the city of Nanjing. It was a stark contrast to the send-off at the Taipei airport where demonstrators, scuffled, threw eggs and shouted insults - calling him a traitor.

The Taiwanese nationalist party leader comes to China on what he says is a "journey of peace" aimed at easing tensions between the government of the democratically ruled island and the Communist mainland.

For Lien Chan, the return was an emotional moment, in which he recalled how he went to Taiwan as a child in 1946, three years before Communist forces took over the mainland - causing thousands of Nationalists to flee and set up a separate government on the island.

Arriving in Nanjing Tuesday, he said he would work to find new common ground.

"How to create a mutually beneficial and peaceful future is the concern of all of us, and based on this objective, the KMT delegation is ready to strengthen our efforts for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

Lien's agenda includes a meeting with President Hu Jintao in Beijing later this week.

Critics in Taiwan accuse Lien of allowing the Beijing leadership to use him as a means to divide the Taiwanese people, who are already torn between those who want independence and those who seek to maintain the status quo and possible eventual reunification with the mainland.

Other Taiwanese welcome the visit, which follows Beijing's passage last month of an anti-secession law that gives Beijing license to attack Taiwan if the island moves toward formal independence.

Trade between the mainland and Taiwan is booming, and China has become Taiwan's number one export market. Trade volume last year reached 1.6 billion dollars.

The United States, which has pledged to defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack, has warned either side to not take unilateral actions that would increase tensions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeated that message during a visit to Beijing last month.

Taiwanese Protest Opposition Leader's Visit to the Mainland

Hundreds of angry Taiwanese protested Tuesday as opposition leader Lien Chan left for a historic week-long visit to mainland China.

Opponents of Chan's trip clashed violently with supporters of the Nationalist Party leader, and threw eggs at riot policemen. They also held signs accusing Lien of betraying the island.

The trip marks the first time a Nationalist Party leader has visited the mainland since the end of the civil war in 1949. Lien says the goal of his visit is to reduce tensions between the mainland and Taiwan.

Last month, Beijing passed a law which legalizes military action if Taipei declares its independence. China has hundreds of missiles pointed at Taiwan and is modernizing its forces to facilitate a swift victory in the event of conflict.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has eased his opposition to the visit Sunday, saying Lien could use the trip to explore the possibility of reconciliation with China.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Activists Plan Olympic Boycott

China Confidential has learned that an ad-hoc group of human rights and pro-democracy activists have secretly begun planning a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The group includes a veteran activist who was instrumental in mobilizing opposition to the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games following the Soviet invasion of Aghanistan.

The activists are said to be operating with seed money grants--from a leading entertainment industry personality--totalling up to $1 million. Of this amount, $100,000 has been made available so far, with the understanding that additional funds will be released in increments of a few hundred thousand dollars each, provided the planning body achieves certain agreed upon milestones.

"It's a classic stepped deal, in the best Hollywood tradition, or venture capital tradition, for that matter," a source close to the group explained. "Think of the initial capital as development money, just enough funding to make something happen and either continue on to the next level or abandon the project."

The source said: "The group will go public with the boycott if and when they're ready. Right now, they're operating in stealth mode."

One milestone: formation of a blue ribbon international advisory board representing diverse disciplines and fields. This could prove to be more difficult than it seems, given China's economic clout.

Machimura Praises Summit

Japan's foreign minister went on national television Sunday to praise Saturday's summit between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao. While the meeting may have led to a slight thaw in the deteriorating Sino-Japanese relationship, nothing substantial appears to have changed.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura insisted on Sunday that the meeting had achieved positive results, but gave no indication that either Tokyo or Beijing had made any fundamental policy changes to appease the other.

Sino-Japanese relations have sunk to a 30-year low in the wake of recent, government-orchestrated anti-Japanese demonstrations across China. The protests were ostensibly sparked by Japanese school textbooks said to whitewash the country's wartime actions. Protestors have also called for China to block Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Machimura warned Sunday against further anti-Japanese demonstrations, saying that such protests would not be in China's best interest.

The foreign minister, appearing on public broadcaster NHK, gave no indication whether Koizumi would accede to Hu's strong request to forego further visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to Japan's war dead.

Machimura said the prime minister has said many times that he will take all factors into account and make an appropriate decision and that is what he expects him to do.

China and other Asian nations consider the visits insensitive in light of Japan's brutal colonial legacy in the region. During their meeting Saturday on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta, Chinese President Hu said Japan needed to reflect more deeply on its militarist past.

Koizumi attempted to improve the bilateral relationship in a speech Friday expressing remorse and offering an apology for what he called the "tremendous damage and suffering" inflicted on Asia in the early 20th century.

Chinese officials say that while they welcome the Japanese leader's attitude, words and discussion alone will not resolve the matter, adding that concrete steps are needed to truly demonstrate Japan's remorse.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Koizumi and Hu Meet

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao met in Jakarta in a bid to mend a growing rift between the two countries.

Hu told reporters he urged Japan to "seriously reflect" on its wartime history and back up government apologies with action.

He also said the dispute should be resolved through dialogue.

Koizumi said the two leaders had had a "frank and meaningful" exchange.

Mobs have attacked Japanese diplomatic missions and businesses across China in recent weeks. In most cases, protesters said they were angered by Tokyo's approval of history texts that downplay Japan's wartime atrocities. But the protests were clearly stage-managed by Chinese authorities.

China has refused to apologize for the violent and rowdy protests.

On Friday, however, Koizumi repeated an apology for the atrocities, even as 80 lawmakers in Tokyo visited a controversial shrine, which honors war dead, including war criminals.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing welcomed the apology, but added that Tokyo must back its words with action.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Questions Outnumber Answers

As another weekend begins in China, there are more questions than answers regarding the government's stage-managed campaign of riots and street protests against Japan. Among the more obvious questions are these:

Command and control. Who is actually in charge? Which agencies are controlling and manipulating the protests? Who pulls the levers and presses the buttons? Who designed and dreamed up the campaign? Who was put in charge of implementation? How are the orders executed?

Objectives. What are the main objectives or the campaign? Is it mainly a nationalistic exercise for domestic consumption, or a muscle flexing episode on the part of a rising regional power with global aspirations? Is the campaign primarily aimed at humiliating Japan or diminishing the stature of its powerful ally, the United States, in the eyes of other Asian nations and the world community? (We believe the anti-Japanese campaign is essentially a non-military test of the Chinese military's strategic "denial and deception" doctrine--namely, the use of selective aggression to "draw out" enemies and friends for future reference.)

Outcome. Will the campaign work for or against China? Will the demonstrations intimidate trading partners and foreign investors, or make them rethink their views about China's long-range intentions and ambitions? Will Beijing's experiment in riot diplomacy have a lasting negative impact on its carefully constructed image of Peacefully Rising China?

Japanese PM Apologizes to China; Victory for Riot Diplomacy

China's bold experiment in riot diplomacy--three consecutive weeks of scripted and violent anti-Japanese protests--paid off big time on Friday.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed Japan's "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" for its wartime past in a speech delivered at a meeting of Asian and African leaders on Friday.

Key excerpts are reprinted below.

"In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.

"Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility.

"And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to use of force."

While Koizumi's comments were in line with Japan's past statements about its view of history, it was the first time in over a decade a Japanese prime minister stated them in a speech at an international gathering.

Koizumi's speech is certain to be seen as a major victory for China's government, which organized and orchestrated the ugly demonstrations around Japan's alleged insensitivity to its brutal occupation of China during the first half of the last century.

In reality, the history issue was pure pretext.

China Confidential has learned that key elements of the Chinese regime--including senior military leaders--viewed the anti-Japanese protests as both a timely and indirect attack on Japan's most important ally, the United States--in response to US support for Japan's bid for permanent United Nations Security Countil status--and a novel, non-military test of China's theory of strategic "denial and deception," or D&D. The theory holds that selective provocations and aggressive acts can be used to test international opinion, intimidate regional neighbors, and "draw out" enemies and friends, critics and sympathizers, for future use and reference.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

China Seen Boosting Smart Weapons Development via EU Satellite Project

As the European Union debates whether to lift its arms embargo against China, another issue is looming. According to some western defense experts, China could gain valuable military knowledge in the targeting of missiles and smart weapons through an EU satellite project that will be completed in a few years.

At issue is the European Union's more than $4 billion Galileo network, which is set to enter service in 2008. With 30 satellites and ground stations, it is intended to establish an extremely accurate navigation and positioning system that will have civilian and military uses.

China agreed in 2003 to invest more than $250 million in the network and soon contracts for the first development projects are to be signed.

Analysts familiar with the People's Liberation Army say China's military has the capability to use the Galileo system to gain access to sensitive high-technology. Richard North is a military and political specialist with the Bruges Group, a London-based research organization that is often critical of the European Union.

"The central issue is that the Peoples Liberation Army are upgrading," he said. "They are looking to particular use of high-technology in terms of command and control systems. And also in advance guidance systems for cruise-type missiles. Now advance guidance and command and control both depend intrinsically on having satellite guidance. The Chinese clearly want it for military purposes. And by having access to the Galileo system they acquire a potent military capability which threatens U.S. interests and can only have one rationale, and that is for military use."

Military analysts say missiles are a major part of China's strategy for controlling Taiwan, which it considers a break-away province. They also say modern anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles would help the Chinese deter U.S. intervention in a Taiwan conflict.

The United States and its allies already have a system that performs much the same function as Galileo. By means of global positioning satellites the system keeps track of vessels and is able to guide weapons to their targets. Civilians may also use this global positioning system, known as GPS, but it can be restricted during times of war or because of other security threats.

The European Union says the Galileo satellite system is designed primarily for commercial use. But it uses an encoded signal called the Public Regulated Service, which is used by European police and military forces to fight crime and illegal immigration.

The European Union says it has taken precautions to ensure that China will not have access to the the Public Regulated Service or other sensitive technologies or functions.

Fraser Cameron, director of studies at the European Policy Center in Brussels, says Galileo does not pose a security threat.

"It would be very doubtful, in my view, that this can be used for military purposes," he said. "Because the GPS positioning system upon which it is based has been designed for civilian purposes. Both in terms of safety, transport, and security. With GPS positioning I do not think there is anything in the actual project which would provide for the ability to help guided missiles."

But military analyst Richard North, of the Bruges Group, disagrees. He says Chinese technicians with detailed knowledge of the technology could gain access to codes and could also take the system apart to learn its construction. He says those who believe the China's military will not be able to do this are naive.

"That is not credible," he said. "The Chinese are not just passive customers. They are development partners. They are fully integrated into the development of the system, with their own engineers working on the system, and therefore they have full access to the technology, and that which they are not given, they can very easily work out for themselves by back engineering [reverse engineering]."

Other analysts take a mixed view. Laurence Nardon, a space program specialist at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris, says there are security concerns, but they are being addressed.

"The risk with Galileo is that they [China] will be part of the system building," he said. "And that is where the risk lies. And I think the EU has to be very cautious, but I have reason to think that they do that already. So, yes there is an increase in the risk, but I think it is taken care of."

China is the number one EU trading partner. Beijing say it wants the Galileo satellite system to help with transportation, agriculture, fisheries, mapping, and emergency services.

Beijing has also asked the European Union to drop an arms embargo imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen square crackdown, saying the ban is outdated. Several European Union member countries, as well as the United States, oppose ending the embargo, saying Beijing would gain access to high-technology with military applications.

France Sides with China on Arms Ban, Signs $4 Billion Trade Package

France and China have signed $4 billion worth of business deals, after Paris pledged new support for lifting a European Union arms embargo on Beijing.

At a ceremony, Prime Ministers Wen Jiabao and Jean-Pierre Raffarin witnessed the signing of 20 agreements, including contracts for China to go ahead with the purchase of five Airbus A-380 super jumbo jets and other aircraft. Deals were also signed for possible French sales of nuclear power and railway equipment.

Wen gave a warm welcome to Prime Minister Raffarin, and especially to the promise he made that France would continue to push to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo, which Paris says is outdated.

At a briefing, Prime Minister Wen repeated China's claim that the embargo is obsolete.

Wen thanked his guest and praised him for expressing his country's support against the embargo.

Later, a Chinese foreign ministry official said the embargo has been an obstacle to developing a strategic partnership between China and Europe. He said an early lifting of it will help develop ties.

The European Union last week failed to agree on lifting the ban, meaning no decision is likely before next year.

Observers say the sales agreements Thursday were an easy score for France, which - along with Germany - has been seeking to win favor with China and a bigger piece of the Chinese market by supporting an end to the weapons embargo.

Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research, says Raffarin's promises to continue opposing the embargo are risk-free at this point.

"This position does not cost too much to the French premier," he said. "So, it has been a very sort of cheap political benefit, which was given by the French side to the Chinese government in exchange [for] huge business deals. The objective of Raffarin's visit to China has been to grab a larger share of the Chinese market."

Europe banned weapons sales to China following the Chinese army's 1989 killing of hundreds - perhaps thousands - of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators near Tiananmen Square. Beijing dismisses the crackdown as a reason to maintain the embargo, calling the ban a relic of the Cold War.

The European Union appeared poised to lift the embargo this month, but several nations including Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden called for it to remain in place. Some supporters of the ban pointed to concerns over China's recent passage of an anti-secession law, which gives Beijing a legal basis to attack Taiwan.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Editorial: Memo to Media Moguls

To: U. S. Media Moguls
Fr: China Confidential
Re: Human Rights

Understand many of you are concerned that China's more hard-nosed new media chiefs--the team running things over at the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television--have been holding up foreign investment, co-productions and joint ventures, while tightening censorship and making plans to build CCTV into a truly global propaganda network.

Also understand it's been more difficult of late for you to get face time with top officials. "Even for the Rupert Murdochs of the world," as Variety recently put it (see China Confidential's 4/18/05 report on Mudroch's China dealings, "Imagining Media Mogul Nightmares").

Expect that most of you will respond true to form--by spending even more time in China in pursuit of the Big Deal. After all, Peacefully Rising China is the planet's next economic engine and agent of change, as all of you are so fond of pointing out to shareholders and analysts.

Of course, more time in China means more time in the air ... and more time to catch up on your reading. Our recommendation: the 2004 U. S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices in China, released on Feb. 28 of this year, which, given your busy schedules, you may have missed. It makes for interesting reading; in fact, it's riveting, a real page turner, as you can tell from the excerpt reprinted below. Here's the link to the full report should it be of interest.

"The Government's human rights record remained poor, and the Government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses. Citizens did not have the right to change their government, and many who openly expressed dissenting political views were harassed, detained, or imprisoned, particularly in a campaign late in the year against writers, religious activists, dissidents, and petitioners to the Central Government. Authorities were quick to suppress religious, political, and social groups that they perceived as threatening to government authority or national stability, especially before sensitive dates such as the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and other significant political and religious occasions. However, the Constitution was amended to mention human rights for the first time.

"Abuses included instances of extrajudicial killings; torture and mistreatment of prisoners, leading to numerous deaths in custody; coerced confessions; arbitrary arrest and detention; and incommunicado detention. The judiciary was not independent, and the lack of due process remained a serious problem. The lack of due process was particularly egregious in death penalty cases, and the accused was often denied a meaningful appeal. Executions often took place on the day of conviction or on the denial of an appeal. In Xinjiang, trials and executions of Uighurs charged with separatism continued. Government pressure continued to make it difficult for lawyers to represent criminal defendants. The authorities routinely violated legal protections in the cases of political dissidents and religious figures. They generally attached higher priority to suppressing political opposition and maintaining public order than to enforcing legal norms or protecting individual rights. According to 2003 government statistics, more than 250,000 persons were serving sentences in "reeducation-through-labor" camps and other forms of administrative detention not subject to judicial review. Other experts reported that more than 310,000 persons were serving sentences in these camps in 2003."

Japan Seeks Summit Meeting

Japan says it hopes Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao will meet on the sidelines of a summit in Jakarta this week to mend the growing rift between the two countries.

Japan says it wants a meeting with China to help mend the dispute between the two countries but says it is up to Beijing to make the final decision.

The dispute was sparked by Japan's approval of textbooks critics say downplay Tokyo's atrocities during the war.

The Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, Hatsuhisa Takashima, spoke about the dispute on the sidelines of a meeting of Asian and African foreign ministers in Jakarta.

"The government of Japan is very much hopeful that this meeting will take place," he said. "But the ball is on the Chinese side of the court and we are still waiting for the words from the Chinese government."

Foreign ministers, gathered in the Indonesian capital for the Asian-African Summit, also called for the two countries to meet to mend their differences, but so far, China has not responded.

On Wednesday, the Chinese foreign minister appealed for calm following three weeks of violent anti-Japanese protests in several Chinese cities that damaged major diplomatic missions and Japanese restaurants.

Those protests have also turned into demonstrations against Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Japan has called on China to apologize for the violent protests and pay for damages, but Beijing refuses and says Tokyo should be the one to apologize.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will attend the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta, called on the two nations to meet during the summit to discuss their differences.

Japan's foreign ministry spokesman, Hatsuhisa Takashima, says if the meeting takes place Japan has a number of issues to discuss with China.

"If this meeting materializes, meeting between Prime Minister Koizumi and President Hu Jintao, Japan intends to have a wide range of talks with the forward-looking spirit for the promotion of better relations between our two countries both economically and politically," added Takashima.

More than 40 heads of state are attending a summit this week in Jakarta for the 50th anniversary of the Asian-African Summit held in 1955 by nations from both continents in an effort to assert themselves on the world stage.

China Warns New Pope to Avoid Interfering in Internal Affairs

Millions of Asian Catholics have welcomed the election of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope. But China - which does not recognize Vatican authority - has warned the new pontiff against interfering in its internal affairs in the name of religion.

China - which cut ties with the Vatican more than half a century ago - says it hopes the new pope will work to improve relations.

But to achieve that, says Beijing, the Vatican must cut links with rival Taiwan and avoid meddling in Chinese internal affairs, "including in the name of religion." Beijing will not allow the Vatican to appoint bishops in China.

The authorized Catholic Church in China does not recognize the pope's authority, but there is an underground church that follows the Vatican.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Refusing to Apologize, China Offers to Repair Japanese Embassy

China has offered to repair damage the Japanese embassy in Beijing sustained during recent violent protests, but is rejecting Tokyo's demand for an apology.

Beijing says Japan is to blame for starting the dispute, which centers on a new Japanese history textbook critics say overlooks Japan's brutal military occupation of much of Asia before and during World War II.

Approval of the book sparked three weeks of angry protests in China.

Tokyo has proposed a meeting between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the upcoming Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has also urged the two leaders to meet and resolve their differences

Deputy Defense Nominee Says US Monitors China's Military Buildup

The man nominated to be the new Deputy Defense Secretary says the United States must be prepared to meet any challenge from China, but he hopes U.S.-China relations will develop so that there is never any such confrontation.

Responding to a question from a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the nominee, Gordon England, said the Defense Department is "keenly aware" of China's military modernization, particularly the expansion of its naval capability.

"Senator, obviously a concern because it is a growing power and so we obviously need to keep track from a military point of view to make sure we are prepared to dissuade," he answered. "That said, I certainly hope that in the course of China's development we find mechanisms to make them our great friends."

England, who is Secretary of the Navy, declined to go into detail in public about what the U.S. military is doing to respond to China's military development.

England received a warm reception from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate committee, who praised his four years of service at the Defense Department and as Deputy Secretary of the new Department of Homeland Security. His government service follows a long career in the private sector, including four years as executive vice-president of General Dynamics Corporation, a large technology company that sells many products to the Defense Department.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to recommend confirmation of England's appointment as Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the full Senate is expected to do so. His predecessor, Paul Wolfowitz, was elected President of the World Bank.

Potential for Explosive Protests

Against a backdrop of violent anti-Japanese demonstrations across China--which most experts view as government manipulated--Japanese judges and lawmakers have handed the Chinese government fresh pretexts for potentially explosive protests.

The Tokyo High Court has rejected the latest claim filed by Chinese victims of Japanese atrocities more than 40 years ago. The plaintiffs left the courtroom displaying a banner that read "Unjust Verdict."

The 10 Chinese survivors of Japanese atrocities, including the 1937 massacre in Nanjing, had filed suit asking for compensation.

The Court on Tuesday said that compensation for war crimes is a bilateral issue between countries and individuals do not have the standing to bring such cases to court.

The decision is no surprise. Japanese judges have consistently ruled against those seeking compensation for Japanese actions in Asia before and during World War Two.

China has seen a wave of often violent anti-Japanese demonstrations over the past few weeks. The protests were sparked, in part, by new Japanese textbooks that downplay atrocities Tokyo's troops committed in Asia in the early 20th century. The protests and an exchange of bitter comments from both governments have brought relations between China and Japan to their lowest level in 30 years.

The 1937 killing of civilians in Nanjing is one of the most contentious of the lingering historical issues between China and Japan. China says about 300,000 civilians were killed by Japanese. War crimes trials after World War II, led by the United States, documented less than half that number of victims. Japan's most nationalist textbooks, which are used by only a handful of schools, only say that "many" Chinese died in what is referred to as an "incident."

Further inflaming tensions, nationalist Japanese lawmakers, led by a former defense minister, accounced plans on Tuesday to visit a shrine that critics say glorifies their country's militarist past. A spokesman for the delegation said the visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's 2.5 million war dead, was planned far in advance of the demonstrations that have brought relations betwen China and Japan to their lowest point since the early 1970s.

China's Foreign Minister was not impressed by that argument. He told reporters that the dead honored at the shrine include executed war criminals, whom he called the "planners and conspirators" of World War II.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Chinese President Invites Taiwan Opposition Leader to Visit Mainland

Chinese President Hu Jintao has invited Taiwan opposition leader James Soong to visit the mainland.

Soong's People First Party (PFP), in alliance with the Nationalists, forms the main opposition to Taiwan's ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, led by President Chen Shui-bian.

The invitation, issued by Hu in his capacity as general secretary of China's Communist party, comes just weeks after China hosted a visit by a delegation headed by Nationalist Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-Kung.

A senior PFP official said Monday that Soong has accepted the invitation and will visit China as early as next month.

Beijing accuses Taiwan's President Chen of plotting to make the island independent, and has been trying to isolate him by wooing parties that favor unification.

Chinese Officials: Worst Japan Relationship Since 1972

A visit by Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura to Beijing did not achieve a breakthrough in easing tensions with China, although Chinese officials say that Tokyo has taken steps in the right direction. This comes as Chinese officials describe the two countries' relationship as being the worst since 1972.

At the end of Foreign Minister Machimura's trip Monday, Japanese diplomats were disappointed that Chinese leaders had refused to meet with him, and he did not get the apology he sought for mobs that pelted Japanese facilities with rocks and excrement.

Still, Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said he sees no reason for Japan to downgrade its relations with China.

"The economic relations between Japan and China are so good that the trade volume has already exceeded that of the United States and Japan," he said.

There are signs both countries want to ease mounting tensions. Japan has proposed a commission to address issues that China says triggered the protests. And a Chinese official said Japan's repeated apology for its early 20th century aggression was a step toward healing relations.

Machimura also reaffirmed Japan's policy of recognizing Taiwan as a part of China - words Beijing wanted to hear.

Some Japanese diplomats indicated they do not know what more China wants from Tokyo to ease the dispute.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei told reporters earlier Monday that both countries would need to work further to improve relations.

"Some serious difficulties are emerging in China and Japan relations," he said. "We should say that these problems are the most difficult, and the most serious, problems since the realization of normalized diplomatic relations between China and Japan in 1972."

The two governments are discussing the possibility that Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will meet later this week at the Asia-Africa Summit in Indonesia.

A series of demonstrations over the past few weeks have sharply reduced the number of Japanese tourists visiting China and raised concerns among Japanese businesspeople, who are pressing their government to resolve the dispute.

The protests have centered on a number of issues, including Japan's approval of textbooks that some Chinese believe gloss over Tokyo's invasion of the country in the 1930s. The topic has become prominent as Japan seeks a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, something the Chinese government says should not happen until Japan more fully atones for its past.

Japanese officials say they have apologized many times and hope new discussions might clarify exactly what China wants Tokyo to do.

Imagining Media Mogul Nightmares

Following a third weekend of violent anti-Japanese street protests in China, it could be argued that for media mogul Rupert Murdoch—who practically commutes to China and is planning to build a mansion in the heart of Beijing—two of the worst possible business nightmares he can imagine have nothing to do with numbers and everything to do with pictures. Instead of sour earnings reports, what Murdoch most fears, perhaps, are still and video images: (a) of rioting mobs in Chinese cities burning American as well as Japanese flags, and (b) of Chinese missiles striking Taiwan.

More than most media heavyweights, the globe-trotting Murdoch has bought and sold the concept of Peacefully Rising China (see story below), which China’s political leaders, semi-official academicians, and paid propagandists have skillfully promoted in any number of meetings, forums, and publications. His News Corp. owns one of only four foreign-held TV channels available in Chinese households, Star’s Starry Sky entertainment network.

News Corp. also owns Fox News Channel, which liberal U. S. media critics have accused of acting as a virtual Republican Party TV network. FNC’s unquestioning coverage of the run-up to the Iraq war was an important factor in building public support for the conflict.

Anti-American demonstrations—not seen or allowed in China since the accidental NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in May 1999—would be a sign that in its drive to dominate East Asia, China had decided to confront the U. S. directly instead of through its ally Japan. This would likely signal the start of a new cold war, one that could prove to be more frightening than the prolonged postwar competition between the U. S. and the Soviet Union.

Which would create an embarrassing, unprecedented conflict of interest between Fox News Channel’s ballyhooed “fair and balanced” journalistic mission and parent company News Corp.’s business interests. Reports on widespread human rights violations, high-level official corruption and virulent nationalism in the New China have not exactly been staples at Fox. Says a former Fox producer: “Negative stories about China have not been encouraged, except for Chinagate (the Clinton administration spy scandal).”

Murdoch’s conservative critics have long argued that his right-of-center political orientation is subject to change when his financial interests are at stake. To appease Beijing and enhance his chances of capturing a share of China’s vast media market, these critics contend, Murdoch over the years has kicked the BBC off his Star TV network, dropped publication by HarperCollins UK of the memoirs of Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor and a fierce critic of China, and played down coverage by News Corp.’s famously hawkish U. S. tabloid, the New York Post, of China's seizure of a U.S. reconnaissance plane. In contrast, a Chinese-language, army-affiliated offshoot of his Star TV service pumped out aggressively anti-American coverage of the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy.

(Murdoch’s third wife, the much younger, politically well connected, American educated Wendi Deng--she has MBA and BA degrees from Yale and California State University, respectively—has played a central role in News Corp.’s China expansion. )

Of course, an outright attack on Taiwan would be infinitely more serious than an outbreak of anti-American protests. Taiwan is the litmus test of China’s intentions. In cold war terms, military aggression by Beijing would be the combined contemporary equivalent of the Berlin blockade, Cuban missile crisis, and U2 spy plane incident rolled into a single international crisis—only more so. An attack on Taiwan would mean that ascending China, which has at least 13 ICBMs pointed at U. S. cities, had decided to chance a nuclear confrontation in order to achieve its imperial objectives.

Regardless of one’s opinions about Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, one can only hope that the above imagined nightmares never materialize.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Great Disconnect: Differing Wall Street and Washington Views of 'Peacefully Rising China'

Not since U. S. companies helped Hitler in the years leading up to the Second World War, has the disconnect between Wall Street and Washington been so profound on a major foreign policy issue as it presently is with regard to China.

In the eyes of the nation’s largest companies and their investment bankers, China is the world’s next economic engine and agent of change. More important, the PRC—or Peacefully Rising China—a term that originated with the Chinese government—is seen as the key to corporate expansion, growth, and profitability.

Not for nothing, to use an old Russian phrase, are American executives jetting to and from China in pursuit of big deals and mega-mergers, toasting and dining with ministers in city after city. For them, the PRC is the place to be; the potential rewards of trading and investing in China far outweigh the risks; and a rapidly rising China is strictly a good news story.

The Bush administration has a different view of China. For Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and other top officials, China’s ascent is certain to be the biggest geopolitical development of this generation. They see China as a “strategic competitor” whose emergence onto the world stage must be effectively and carefully managed. Far from a benevolent giant, China is viewed as a potentially dangerous superpower in the making, a country bent on changing the regional status quo by challenging the U. S. and its ally Japan in a quest to dominate East Asia and alter the international status quo by driving a wedge between the U. S. and Europe and ultimately supplanting the U. S. as the world’s most influential nation.

Whereas Wall Street sees China’s integration in the global economy as discouraging resort to force against Taiwan and Japan, Washington is concerned that the U. S. and other nations have become so addicted to Chinese trade and investment—the dollar’s stability depends on Chinese purchases of U. S. Treasury bonds—that they may already lack the political will to stand up to Beijing.

Pentagon planners are less diplomatic. In the eyes of many American defense analysts, China’s stepped-up campaign against Japan, aggressive economic diplomacy in Asia, increased threats to Taiwan—including hundreds of missiles within striking distance of Taiwan—impressive military buildup, including modernizing its navy, and continued nuclear arsenal—at least 13 ICBMs are pointed at American cities as an obvious deterrent against possible U. S. intervention in the event of an attack on Taiwan—are all ominous signs of an imperialist nation—meaning, in political realist terms, a country seeking to upset the balance of power—whose rise may not necessarily prove to be peaceful. In other words, not merely a strategic competitor, but a strategic threat. A country whose global expansion must be contained.

If all this reminds you of the cold war, you’re right. Pentagon planners are convinced that China’s leaders are convinced, just as the Soviets were once convinced (and Hitler in his time was convinced) that the U. S. is basically a decaying hegemon, a superpower blind to its own inevitable decline and fall. And as the history of the cold war (and the last world war) demonstrated, this kind of thinking on the part of totalitarian and authoritarian leaders can have terrible consequences for regional neighbors and all of humanity.

Riot Diplomacy: More Violence as China Rejects Japanese Foreign Minister's Demand for Apology

China escalated its war of words--and riots--with Japan over the weekend.

The Chinese government allowed a fresh wave of violent anti-Japanese protests in connection with the visit of Japan's Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, while making clear that it has no intention of apologizing for the week-long campaign.

On Saturday, Police let 20,000 rioters break windows at Japan's Consulate in Shanghai, where many Japanese firms have offices and over 30,000 Japanese citizens reside. The rioters also vandalized restaurants and damaged cars.

Thousands more protested in other Chinese cities.

On Sunday, Police stood by as demonstrators marched in several cities, including Shenyang, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing rejected his counterpart's demand for an official apology.

"The Chinese government has never done anything for which it has to apologize to the Japanese people," Li said on Sunday during talks with Machimura.

"The main problem now is that the Japanese government has done a series of things that have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people on the Taiwan issue, some international issues including human rights, and especially in its treatment of history," Li said.

In Beijing, police were deployed to prevent violent protests. Analysts interpret the absence of protests in the capital as a sign the government has full control of where and when the demonstrations occur. Chinese officials deny controlling or fueling the protests.

Chinese authorities on Sunday allowed news of the demonstrations to air on foreign television channels, but blacked out portions where Japanese officials appeared, giving their side of the story.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Japan Protests New Violent Demos

The Japanese government has strongly protested China's failure to stop a new wave anti-Japan demonstrations.

A Foreign Ministry statement released Saturday accuses China of doing nothing about the violent protests even though authorities knew about them in advance.

At least 10,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Shanghai earlier Saturday. Some hurled stones and bottles at the Japanese consulate. Others smashed windows and signs at Japanese restaurants.

Thousands of people protested in the eastern cities of Hangzhou and Tianjin.

The demonstrators denounced Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and condemned Japan's approval of new school textbooks, which, they say, minimize Japan's wartime atrocities in China.

In Beijing, a strong police presence prevented prevent a repeat of protests that happened last week.

Japan's Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura is scheduled to visit China on Sunday.

Foreign experts agree that the demonstrations appear to be scripted and manipulated; but there is disagreement over the extent of control and the agency or body actually pulling the strings.

Some diplomats maintain the protests are aimed at Washington as well as Tokyo. An ascending China clearly seeks to dominate Asia--for all its support for multilateral arrangements in other regions, its Asian diplomacy is decidedly bilateral in nature--and obviously dreams of achieving superpower status on par with the United States.

Chinese Riot Police Stand By

On the eve of a visit by Japan's foreign minister to Beijing, thousands of Chinese took to the streets in at least three cities to protest Japan's approval of a school textbook allegedly glossing over its 20th century aggression in Asia. Japan has lodged a protest about a wave of rowdy demonstrations in China this past week.

Protesters hurled stones at the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai and smashed windows and signs at Japanese restaurants.

Riot police stood outside the consulate but appeared to do little to stop the crowd.

Despite a government appeal for restraint, thousands more protested in the eastern cities of Hangzhou and Tianjin - capping a week of anti-Japanese demonstrations in China.

Japan has repeatedly urged China to stop the protesters.

Beijing was calm Saturday as riot police guarded the Japanese Embassy, which was damaged by demonstrators last Saturday.

The Chinese are angry at what they say is Japan's latest minimizing of its imperialist past in new school textbooks approved this month. Japan occupied parts of China and other countries before and during the Second World War.

Foreign journalists and diplomats differ in their views regarding the extent of government control over the protests. At a minimum, most agree that in tightly controlled China, the demonstrations are manipulated, if not scripted and controlled.

Tokyo's new campaign to seek a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council - in which China is the only Asian permanent member - has also fueled Chinese nationalist sentiment.

Japan has followed a pacifist policy since its wartime defeat in 1945. But under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Tokyo has made its neighbors nervous with a more assertive foreign policy - for the first time deploying troops beyond its borders, but only in a non-combat capacity to conflict zones.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, who is scheduled to meet Chinese officials in Beijing Sunday to diffuse tensions, says the latest incidents in China against Japanese facilities are "extremely regrettable" and will be "strongly protested."

Anti-Japanese Protests Turn Violent

Anti-Japanese protests in China turned violent Saturday in Shanghai, where angry demonstrators pelted the Japanese consulate with rocks, bottles and eggs, and there are reports of more protests in at least two other cities.

At least 5,000 people took to the streets of Shanghai, China's largest city and its commercial center, as part of a new wave of anti-Japanese protests. The demonstrators denounced Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and condemned what they say are Tokyo's attempts to rewrite history by minimizing Japan's wartime atrocities.

The demonstrators also damaged several Japanese-style restaurants in Shanghai, but police appeared to be able to control the crowds.

Reports from Hangzhou, about 200 kilometers southwest from Shanghai, say a large anti-Japan protest took place in the scenic eastern city. In the north, the official Xinhua news agency said there was a similar demonstration in Tianjin, the seaport near Beijing.

Authorities are taking a harder line against demonstrations today in the capital, and a large police force is deployed around the Japanese Embassy. Japan's Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura arrives in Beijing Sunday for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Chinese Court Rules Against Torture

An appeals court in China's Sichuan province has barred the use of evidence obtained through torture, extortion and other forceful means, marking what legal analysts say is a small step toward ending forced confessions.

The announcement of the new rules came this week at the same time as the release of
She Xianglan after being declared innocent, a man in central Hubei province who spent 11 years in prison after police forced him to confess to his wife's murder, which never happened. He was exonerated after the woman reappeared last month.

The case of She has received much publicity in China and triggered a public outcry over what many people say is the widespread police use of torture to extract confessions, a practice that has technically been banned in China since 1994.

The superior court in Sichuan province, prosecutors, and the provincial police issued a joint document Wednesday, saying testimony and evidence obtained by torturing, extorting, threatening, leading or tricking suspects and or by other illegal methods cannot be used as legal evidence.

Law professor Fu Hualing, an expert on Chinese criminal justice at the University of Hong Kong, says the fact that police have signed on is significant in a country where police have more power than the courts.

"The Communist Party pays serious attention to social order and political stability," said Fu Hualing. "Police remain [a] very powerful institution in China, politically and legally. Compared with the police, the court is a much weaker institution."

Professor Fu says, however, it is unlikely that other courts in China will follow the directive and start dismissing cases where evidence is improperly obtained. He says that in politically charged cases where authorities are determined to put someone in prison, the courts are likely to simply rely on other evidence to issue convictions.

Legal analysts say that to stop forced confessions, China will first have to undertake sweeping changes to shift power from the police and make its courts independent. However, analysts say such changes are not likely anytime soon.

Top Rocket Scientist Arrested

Chinese authorities have arrested one of the country's top rocket designers and will try him on charges of accepting bribes and embezzling millions of dollars.

The official Xinhua news agency said Friday, that Li Jianzhong, the former president of the Chinese Academy of Carrier Rocket Technology, is alleged to have taken more than $200,000 in bribes. He is also accused of embezzling nearly $19 million.

Mr. Li's agency developed the Long March series of rockets, one of which powered China's first manned spaceship, the Shenzhou Five, into space in October of 2003.

Xinhua said a tip to police prompted an investigation of Mr. Li that began shortly after the successful launch of the Shenzhou Five rocket in October of 2003.

EU Will Not End Arms Ban

A top European Union official says the 25-nation block is unlikely to lift its 15-year ban on weapons sales to China soon. There have been divisions within the EU over the issue and the United States has warned ending the ban could put hi-tech weapons in the hands of Beijing, destabilizing the military balance of power in Asia.

At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, which holds the rotating EU presidency, European external relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the time is not right for lifting the embargo. "For the moment, I must say, I see that it is hard to imagine that there is an early lifting," she said.

Last year, the EU gave Luxembourg a mandate to lift the embargo by the end of its presidency in June. But many conditions were attached, according to Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, such as the improvement of the human rights situation in China.

"The European Council also stated that it expected relations between the EU and China to make further progress in all areas. I repeat, all areas. In particular reference was made to ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights… I need hardly tell you that a decision on lifting an embargo is not taken in a vacuum," he said.

The issue has created divisions within the 25-nation EU. France has been pushing for an end to the ban, but other nations, including Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden want the embargo retained for now. EU security specialist Michael Emerson, of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, says the bloc is far from united on the issue but pressure is building for a decision.

"France wants to go ahead and lift the embargo," he said. "I think the UK [Britain] has moved to the position that they would rather defer the question for the time being. And Germany seems to be divided between [German Foreign Minister Joschka] Fischer, who would like to put down the firmer marker [would like to demand more from China], whereas Chancellor Schroeder would like to go ahead and lift the embargo…. You can't infinitely finesse a question like this. You're handling it. You either do it or you don't."

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer this week said China should take concrete steps on human rights and Taiwan before the ban is lifted.

The EU imposed the embargo following the 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen square. France says it is outdated. But other European officials expressed concern after China recently passed a law allowing the use of force against Taiwan if it declared independence. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province.

Washington opposes ending the embargo, saying it will allow China to acquire high-tech weapons that could be used against Taiwan. Some Europeans want to avoid a dispute with Washington just as trans-Atlantic relations are recovering from the clash over the Iraq war. EU Commissioner Ferraro-Waldner. "We are also in favor of launching a strategic dialogue with the United States on the subject of Asia, including also China and the wider security in the region," he said.

Meanwhile, China is the number one trading partner for the EU and is becoming a larger economic and political power on the world stage.

Made-in-China Clothing Flooding US

In early April, the Bush administration took action to re-impose quotas on several categories of made-in-China clothing, to protect the American clothing and textile industry from a flood of Chinese imports. The industry says that does not go far enough. It has asked the administration to re-impose quotas on many more types of Chinese textile products.

The quota system on textiles was completely eliminated on January first of this year, the end result of years of trade liberalization negotiations. And Chinese clothing and textiles poured into the U.S. at higher rates than ever before.

Gary Hufbauer of the Institute for International Economics, a non-profit, non-partisan research group based in Washington, D.C., says that is because China can produce the goods at significantly lower costs. He says there are several reasons for that, more than just low wages.

Hufbauer explains: "There are a lot of countries with very low cost labor, India, Pakistan, much of Africa, et cetera. What does China have on top of that? Well, China is very organized in terms of industrial development. As everybody knows, and in this particular industry, where the organization shows up is that China is able to have very rapid delivery of clothing items in response to fashion demands." Hufbauer adds that China can deliver clothing to the U.S. much faster than neighboring Mexico can.

Shala Talassi owns a company called Design Knit in Los Angeles, California. She says she is already seeing the impact of the recent flood of Chinese imports.

"As we see so many showrooms are closed. So many knitting mills are closed and that's really bad for the textile industries," Talassi says.

American textile manufacturers say that means lost jobs. To stem that tide, the Bush administration has moved to reinstate quotas on some Chinese clothing. The industry has filed petitions asking the government to take action on even more categories of goods from China. The European Union also recently instituted a system to monitor China's surging textile and clothing exports. That system has a series of trigger points that could lead to more formal limits on goods from China.

The agreement that led to the lifting of restrictions on Chinese exports was made before China was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Membership gave China far greater latitude to export its goods. It also meant the U.S. and other countries could reimpose some restrictions on its exports, if needed.

Gary Hufbauer says industries in other countries besides the U.S. are paying the price for the huge increase in Chinese exports.

"China is a big competitor with Central America, Brazil, India, you name it, China competes with them and so a lot of these countries are quietly, and I have to emphasize the word quietly, quite happy for the U.S. to be limiting Chinese exports," Hufbauer says.

He adds that calculations made by the Institute for International Economics show` between half and two-thirds of China's exports to the U.S. are displacing exports from many other countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Brazil.

Chinese Police Warn Protesters

Chinese police have warned against unauthorized anti-Japanese protests in the coming days after last week's demonstrations turned violent.

A statement posted Friday on popular Web sites told people to place their faith in the Communist Party and express their patriotic passion in an orderly manner. The statement noted that public demonstrations require police permission and warned that violators could face punishment.

Notices spread by activists on Web sites and by mobile phones are calling for more protests in the next few days in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities.

The official announcement comes after violent anti-Japanese marches in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen this past week against Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and Tokyo's alleged downplaying of wartime atrocities.

Study Says China Has World's Most Advanced Internet Filtering System

A new study says China has developed sophisticated methods of blocking what its citizens can read on the Internet.

The study concludes that Internet users in China are routinely blocked from sites dealing with information on such politically sensitive subjects as Taiwanese independence, the Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, and the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989.

Researchers from Harvard University, the University of Toronto and Cambridge University in England found that the Chinese government uses government agencies and thousands of public and private employees in a multilayered approach to control access to information on the Internet.

John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, was among those leading the study.

"While China seeks to grow its economy through new technologies, the state's actions suggest at the same time a deep-seated fear of the effect of free and open communications made possible by the Internet," he said. "This fear has led the Chinese government to create what we found to be the world's most sophisticated Internet filtering regime."

Palfrey says the findings could have implications beyond China.

"China's advanced filtering regime presents a model for other countries with similar interests in censorship to follow," he added. "Importantly, China now acts as a regional Internet access provider for neighboring states, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, for instance. Through this important role as a gatekeeper to the Internet for other neighboring states, China may be able to export its filtering technologies."

The study says the tactics used by the Chinese government include blocking certain keywords as well as entire web sites, and demanding that cyber-cafes keep track of users and the Internet sites they visit.

Using tests conducted both inside and outside China, the researchers found that filters were placed on the main backbone networks that carry Internet traffic. But they also say individual Internet service providers performed their own blocking. The efforts are done in large part through U.S. hardware and software.

The American companies Cisco Systems, which uses routers to move Internet traffic, and Google Incorporated, which runs the popular search engine, have been accused of supporting China's censorship by shaping their products to fit the Beijing government's needs.

Congressman Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican, is a senior member of the House International Relations Committee.

"I am deeply concerned when I see U.S. firms apparently facilitating Chinese censorship," he said.

Cisco Systems and Google deny the allegations.

U.S. lawmakers are considering steps aimed at countering China's efforts to block access to the Internet, including through tighter export controls and through promoting new technologies aimed at breaking down or circumventing China's Internet controls.

Congressman David Wu is an Oregon Democrat, and also the only Chinese-American in Congress.

"It came to my attention that there are individuals and companies here in the United States which are in the business of cracking the Chinese security systems, and while we should not forget the possibility of impeding the export of control technologies, it may be a much better bang for the buck to invest in those companies that are specifically trying to crack various security systems," he noted.

Meanwhile, Susan O'Sullivan, senior adviser in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the State Department, while not responding directly to the new study, said the United States continues to urge China to respect freedom of expression, including on the Internet.

"We attach enormous importance to freedom of expression and the free flow of information into China, so we are raising it all the time," she said. "Our advocacy on the part of individual prisoners also is an occasion where we raise this because so many of the people we are talking to the Chinese about and seeking the release of are in jail for expressing their views on the Internet or publishing something that got them on the wrong side."

The researchers who conducted the study on Internet access in China are preparing similar reports in the coming months dealing with Vietnam, Iran, Yemen and Singapore.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

US State Department, Lawmakers Strongly Oppose Ending EU Embargo on Arms Sales to China; Military Buildup, Taiwan Cited

U.S. lawmakers have stepped up criticism of the European Union for considering lifting the 16-year embargo on arms shipments to China. A joint hearing Thursday of two House of Representatives committees focused on the security implications of such a decision for the United States, while U.S. officials reiterated Washington's concerns.

Lawmakers likened any lifting of the embargo to appeasement of China, saying it would undermine stability in East Asia and place the lives of U.S. troops there at greater risk.

Concern has been rising in Congress about China's military buildup and the implications, particularly for Taiwan.

Republican Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, believes Europe has shown general indifference to U.S. concerns. "European arms sales to China now raise fundamental questions about whether defense-industrial cooperation with Europe is becoming a national security liability for us," he said.

California Democrat Tom Lantos rejects what he calls outrageous European assurances that ending the embargo would be merely symbolic, saying E.U. governments are driven by commercial interests, and are insensitive to security and other repercussions. "For this generation of European leaders to turn their backs on American national security interests, and to consider opening the floodgates of weapons sales to the People's Republic of China shows they have truly lost their moral compass and all historic memory," he said.

Members of Congress have been cautiously encouraged as President Bush and other administration officials have attempted to mend ties with Europe damaged by the war in Iraq.

But many view the possible end of the E.U. embargo not only as an insult, but a direct threat to the security of the United States and to thousands of U.S. troops positioned in Asia.

Republican Duncan Hunter is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "Lifting this arms embargo should cause us to reconsider our entire security relationship with Europe. A reliable alliance cannot be sustained when some of the members are engaged in arming potential adversaries," he said.

Visiting Europe earlier this month, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said lifting the embargo could affect what he called the transatlantic defense trade with Europe.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns cites China's military buildup, tensions with Taiwan, and other regional concerns in stressing Washington's strong opposition. "We do not believe cross-strait relations would improve if China gains access to advanced weaponry. We are also concerned about protecting key U.S. military technologies that we share with the European allies should the E.U. lift the embargo. Likewise, we are concerned about China's record of proliferating weapons to Iran, Sudan, Burma and other states of concern," he said.

Peter Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, says ending the embargo could raise complications in one area of U.S.-European cooperation, development of the Joint Strike Fighter. "The Joint Strike Fighter is a very important project and there are a lot of positive values, (on) inter-operability there is a strong argument for that program, but this issue will complicate it without a doubt."

Lawmakers are signaling even more loudly that legislation will be forthcoming in Congress threatening to restrict industrial and military technology sharing with E.U. countries if the embargo is lifted.

Amid reports France and Germany have pressed Beijing to make human-rights concessions in exchange for lifting the embargo, lawmakers are also rejecting what they call any cosmetic changes by Beijing in this regard in connection with the embargo, a position supported by Burns on Thursday.

The hearing coincided with a European parliament vote overwhelmingly opposing an end to the arms embargo, and urging the E.U. to develop a code of conduct on arms shipments members would follow before any decision is made.

But Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, speaking to Germany's parliament, reiterated his support for the E.U. agreement last December to work toward ending the embargo by June of this year.

Chinese Hackers Suspected in Anti-Japanese CyberSabotage Attacks

The growing animosity between China and Japan has entered cyberspace, with Chinese Web sites calling for thousands to join new anti-Japanese demonstrations in the coming days. The protests have been prompted by what many in China see as Japan's attempts to whitewash the atrocities its troops committed before and during World War II.

The war of words escalated Thursday, when Japanese police said they were investigating whether Chinese hackers might be linked to an attack that disabled police and defense Web sites for a short time earlier this week.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang denied any government connection.

"The hackers' behavior violates cyberspace ethics. The Chinese government consistently opposes this unethical behavior," the spokesman said.

Japanese officials sought to ease tensions Thursday, saying the two sides needed to hold discussions to resolve their differences over various issues, which also include a territorial dispute.

Tokyo was responding to a protest earlier Thursday by the Chinese government over possible Japanese plans to drill for gas in a part of the East China Sea that China also claims. Japan on Wednesday said it would start reviewing applications by Japanese companies that want to explore the area's natural gas fields.

The animosity of recent days has been triggered in large part by publication in Japan of two new textbooks. Critics in China and elsewhere say the books downplay atrocities committed by Japanese troops during Japan's occupation of China in the 1930s and '40s.

Chinese protesters chant anti-Japanese slogans as they march in Beijing's Haidian district
Violent protests broke out in several Chinese cities over the past week, and protesters called for boycotts of Japanese products. Three Japanese students were beaten in Shanghai.

Chinese officials this week several times repeated Beijing's long-standing suggestion that Japan be denied a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council until it takes full responsibility for its wartime record.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Greenpeace Reports Illegal Release of Genetically Engineered Rice, Calls for Immediate International Recall

The environmental group Greenpeace is calling for an urgent, international product recall after uncovering the illegal release of a variety of genetically engineered (GE) rice in China. The GE rice has not been approved for human consumption and may have contaminated Chinese rice exports.

"The GE industry is out of control," said Greenpeace GE campaigner Sze Pang Cheung. "A small group of rogue scientists have taken the world's most important staple food crop into their own hands and are subjecting the Chinese public to a totally unacceptable experiment."

"We're calling on the Chinese Government to take urgent action to recall the unapproved GE rice from the fields and from the food chain, and to conduct an immediate inquiry into the source of the contamination."

A Greenpeace research team discovered unapproved GE rice being sold and grown illegally in the Chinese province of Hubei. Interviews with seed providers and farmers indicate that GE rice seeds have been sold over the past two years. Samples of rice seed, unmilled and milled rice have been collected from seed companies, farmers and rice millers. Testing by the international laboratory Genescan has confirmed the presence of GE DNA in 19 samples.

The evidence from the lab, combined with field reports, confirms that some of the illegal GE varieties are Bt Rice - which is genetically engineered to produce an inbuilt pesticide. Greenpeace estimates that at least 950 to 1200 tons of GE rice entered the food chain after last year's harvest, and that up to 13,500 tons may enter the food chain after this year unless urgent action is taken.

According to Greenpeace International Scientist, Dr Janet Cotter, this is a very serious problem requiring urgent Government action: "There are strong warning signs that this GE Bt rice could cause allergenic reactions in humans. It has been shown that the protein produced in Bt rice (called Cry1Ac) may have induced allergenic-type responses in mice (1). To date, there has been no human food safety testing of Bt rice."

China is a major exporter of rice and it is expected that the contamination scandal may have significant trade and market impacts, particularly in countries like Japan and Korea where consumer rejection of GE foods is very high. A similar case in the USA in 2000 resulted in a $1 billion product recall amid concerns of potential allergenic reactions after GE corn (Starlink) illegally entered the human food chain.

"This will have a major impact on the Chinese as well as international rice markets," said Sze. "China is one of the world's major rice exporters and our customers in Japan, Korea, Russia and Europe are strongly opposed to GE foods."

Consumer concern over GE foods in China is also rising. In an opinion poll released by Greenpeace in March, 73% of the respondents said they would choose non-GE rice over GE rice.

China is considering commercialization of GE rice and officials have indicated a decision may be made this year. The contamination scandal raises the question of whether the government could regulate GE rice. "The government has not controlled GE rice in the research stage, how will it regulate large scale commercialization?" Sze said.

Drilling in Disputed Waters

In a move likely to further exacerbate tension between Tokyo and Beijing, Japan has announced it will begin granting concessions for test drilling for natural gas and oil in waters disputed with China.

As frustrations rise in Japan over recent Chinese statements and protests, the government has announced it will allow Japanese companies to begin exploring an underwater gas field in the East China Sea.

The field lies in waters both China and Japan claim and the announcement on drilling may worsen tensions between the two countries. Relations have turned bitter in the past week after Chinese crowds damaged Japanese diplomatic missions and businesses in protests over how two new Japanese textbooks refer to Japan's invasion of China in the last century.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda on Wednesday said the timing of the announcement has no connection with any other bilateral issues. He says the timing is a coincidence and is an industrial issue, not a political one.

The Chinese are unlikely to see it that way.

Japan says its exclusive economic zone extends to the line midway between its coast and China. Beijing, however, claims its economic zone goes beyond that boundary, closer to Japan.

Japan's Trade Ministry last week notified the Chinese that it would likely allow Japanese drilling if Beijing continued to refuse Tokyo's requests for additional information on its gas projects in the same area. Japan also has asked China to halt its activities in the disputed area.

Beijing has refused to discuss the matter, and one Chinese official on Tuesday warned Tokyo not to award drilling rights, saying that doing so would "fundamentally change the issue."

The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation plans to begin drilling in the area in August. The company says it expects to extract up to one billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from the field. Japan contends the activity could suck up gas from its territory.

Japan for four decades has held off granting exploration concessions in the East China Sea, wanting to avoid aggravating the territorial dispute.

The United States weighed in on the matter Tuesday, saying that is important for China and Japan to solve disputes peacefully. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Tuesday called the outbursts in China "very regrettable."

"China does have a responsibility to prevent violence against foreign missions in Beijing," said Boucher. "We think that it's very regrettable that this one did turn violent and was not under control."

Over the past several days leaders from China have blamed Japan for the worsening relations and demanded that Japan fully admit to and apologize for its invasion and abuses in the first half of the 20th century. Japanese leaders, on the other hand, insist that Beijing must protect Japanese citizens and property in China.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Chinese Premier Escalates War of Words While Backing India's Bid for UN Security Council Membership

In a further sign of opposition to Japan's longstanding campaign for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo has escalated his country's rhetorical war against Tokyo, while expressing public support for India's bid for permanent Security Council status.

Wen told Japan to "face up to history squarely" on Tuesday, referring to the conduct of the Japanese army during its conquest of eastern China in the first half of the 20th Century. He said China's anti-Japanese protests should cause Japan to "have deep and profound reflections" on the issue.

"Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for past history and wins over the trust of people in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibility in the international community," Wen said, speaking to reporters in New Delhi at the end of his visit to India.

Wen made it clear that China supports India's bid for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

"We fully understand and support the Indian aspiration to play an even bigger role in international affairs and in the UN," he said, adding that he had conveyed the support to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their talks.

Devastating Blows: Report Exposes Crushing Campaign of Religious Repression in Xinjiang

The Chinese government is directing a crushing campaign of religious repression against China's Muslim Uighurs in the name of anti-separatism and counter-terrorism, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China said in a new report today.

The 114-page report, Devastating Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, is based on previously undisclosed Party and government documents, as well as local regulations, official newspaper accounts, and interviews conducted in Xinjiang. It unveils for the first time the complex architecture of law, regulation, and policy in Xinjiang that denies Uighurs religious freedom, and by extension freedom of association, assembly, and expression. Chinese policy and law enforcement stifle religious activity and thought even in school and at home. One official document goes so far as to say that "parents and legal guardians may not allow minors to participate in religious activities."

"China is using the suppression of religion as a whip over Uighurs who challenge or even chafe at Chinese rule of Xinjiang," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "In other parts of China, individuals have a little more space to worship as they choose. But Uighur Muslims are facing state-ordered discrimination and crackdowns. The situation is not dissimilar to Tibet, with the Chinese state attempting to refashion a religion to control an ethnic minority."

The Uighurs, a Turkish-speaking minority of some 8 million people, whose traditional homeland lies in the oil-rich Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China, have become increasingly fearful for their cultural survival and traditional way of life in the face of an intensive internal migration drive that has witnessed the arrival of more than 1.2 million ethnic Chinese settlers over the past decade. Many Uighurs desire greater autonomy than is currently allowed; some wish for a separate state, although there is little recent evidence of violent rebellion.

Highly intrusive religious control extends to organized religious activities, religious practitioners, schools, cultural institutions, publishing houses, and even to the personal appearance and behavior of Uighur individuals. State authorities politically vet all imams on a regular basis and require "self-criticism" sessions; impose surveillance on mosques; purge schools of religious teachers and students; screen literature and poetry for political allusions; and equate any expression of dissatisfaction with Beijing's policies with "separatism" - a state security crime under Chinese law that can draw the death penalty.

At its most extreme, peaceful activists practicing their religion in ways that the Party and government deem unacceptable are arrested, tortured, and at times executed. The harshest punishments are saved for those accused of involvement in so-called separatist activity, which officials increasingly term "terrorism" for domestic and external consumption.

At a more mundane level, Uighurs face harassment in their daily lives.

Celebrating religious holidays, studying religious texts, or showing one's religion through personal appearance are strictly forbidden at state institutions, including schools. The Chinese government vets who can be a cleric, what version of the Koran is acceptable, where religious gatherings may be held, and what may be said.

"Uighurs are seen by Beijing as an ethno-nationalist threat to the Chinese state," said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. "As Islam is perceived as underpinning Uighur ethnic identity, China has taken draconian steps to smother Islam as a means of subordinating Uighur nationalist sentiment."

Documents obtained and interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China reveal a multi-tiered system of surveillance, control, and suppression of Uighur religious activity. As Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan has stressed, the "major task" facing the authorities in Xinjiang is to "manage religion and guide it in being subordinate to the central task of economic construction, the unification of the motherland, and the objective of national unity."

The new report details:

. the current regulations governing religious activities in Xinjiang;

. a manual for government and Party cadres on implementing policy on minority religious affairs, circulated internally in 2000, that elaborates many of the repressive practices subsequently codified in the regulations;

. regulations prohibiting the participation of minors in any religious activity;

. documents acknowledging vast increases in the number of Uighurs

imprisoned or held administratively for alleged religious and state security offenses, including through the discredited reeducation through labor system; and

. regulations detailing how religious and ethnic minority matters come to be classified as "state secrets."

Some of these documents are made public for the first time. A selection can be found in the report's appendices.

"These documents are deemed extremely sensitive and therefore restricted to internal Party and government circulation," said Adams. "They are used arbitrarily to create a legal basis to target Uighurs and to create fear of meeting together, talking about problems that Uighurs face, or expressing cultural identity in an independent manner."

An official Manual regulating religion in Xinjiang contains catch-all "offenses" that allow the authorities to deny religious freedom under virtually any pretext, such as using religion "to carry out other activities that are harmful to the good order of society," or "to breed separatist elements and reactionary backbone elements." It goes on to say that:

Any item to be published [including news and articles] related to research and appraisal of Islamic religion must uphold the Marxist point of view of religion, and use the yardstick of the Party's and the government's religious policies and regulations.

An article co-signed by the vice-director of the Xinjiang Reeducation through Labor Bureau reveals that as of 2001 almost half the detainees in reeducation camps are there for "[belonging to] illegal organizations and [engaging in] illegal religious activities."

"Religious regulation in Xinjiang is so pervasive, that it creates a legal net that can catch just about anyone the authorities want to target," said Hom.

Devastating Blows also details how two specific regulations--revealed here for the first time--establish a draconian ban against unauthorized disclosure of information regarding almost any national minority or religious matter or policy, even if unrelated to national security.

The report also explains how China is using the events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent "war on terror" as a cover for targeting Uighurs.

Although repressive religious policies in Xinjiang predate September 11, the government now asserts that it faces an Islamic-inspired separatist movement with links to international terrorist groups and Al-Qaeda. But Beijing has undermined its credibility by erasing distinctions between violent acts and peaceful dissent. Using Orwellian logic, officials now claim that terrorists pose as peaceful activists. As the Xinjiang party secretary said:

Xinjiang's independence elements have changed their combat tactics since the September 11 incident. They have focused on attacking China on the ideological front instead of using their former frequent practice of engaging in violent terrorist operations. Literary means and arts and literature are being used to "distort historical facts.instead of engaging in violent terrorist operations."

Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China called on the international community to press China to repeal these regulations and end their policies and practices of discrimination against Uighurs. The organizations also stressed the need to challenge Chinese assertions that all separatists are criminals or are connected to international terror networks.

"No country should return to China any Uighurs claimed by China to be involved in terrorism, separatism or other criminal acts," said Adams.

"Given China's past record, there is every reason to fear they will be tortured or even subjected to the death penalty once back in China."

Excerpts from Devastating Blows

"We must strengthen the management of religious public figures, and be sure that they are politically qualified. This is a demand of the first order.

Political qualifications are the following: an ardent love for the motherland, support for Communist Party leaders and the socialist system, opposition to national splittism and illegal religious activities, the defense of national unity and the unification of the motherland, and a conscious compliance with the nation's laws and policies.We must implement a reinforcement of the management of the places of religious activity and the content of the texts."

Xinjiang Party Secretary, Wang Lequan

"This is a Uighur school and we are mostly Uighurs working here. But neither at home nor at work are you supposed to talk to the children about religion. You just talk about it and it is illegal. Even with my own son, I am not supposed to tell him about Islam. How can this be possible?"

"Some students who are studying in our school, namely your children, have not been concentrating fully on their studies as they have been praying and keeping the fast and becoming involved in some religious activities, thus disobeying Document No. 5 1996 of the Autonomous Region Education Commission which says that students should not participate in religious activities (praying, keeping the fast and other religious activities) and also disobeying our school rules."

"In my home village, the militia regularly comes to check villagers. They come during the night, searching house by house, and if they find religious material they take you for questioning. They say it's "illegal religious publications." My father is a simple farmer, what does he know if his Koran is illegal or not?"

"That is how it has gone with me, and mind you I am not what you would call a fervent Muslim. Only during class I would often talk about religious songs. They are widespread; it is absurd that you are not allowed to speak about it. It is an important part of our musical history and tradition, which is what I was supposed to teach. But then, the next term they [the school authorities] tell me not enough students enrolled in my course, which is not true. So I have not taught for a year now. They have not dismissed me and I should not complain too much because I still eat the bread of the Communist Party, but I just walk around campus or sit at my desk. It is a total waste, but it is better not to talk about it."

Uighur professor at a higher education institution in Xinjiang banned from teaching local musical traditions.

"I managed to set up some business with other relatives, and that is my pride. I was working before in an office, dealing with food supplies for schools, but then they said: "No beards allowed in here. Not even mustaches." I thought how can they tell me what I do with myself? This is our tradition, nobody's business. So I had an opportunity to leave, and I left. But if you cannot find another job, in the private sector, you either shave or starve."

During "exchange of experience" sessions clerics are asked to address the other participants with precise accounts of "difficulties" or "incidents" they have encountered in their work. For instance, an imam will describe how "illegal" religious classes were held, or how the mosque used some "illegal" religious book. They may also relate how they failed to warn the authorities about "elements" that were "agitating," or about inviting a cleric from another area without prior authorization. Clerics also have to admit personal errors and how they have nurtured "incorrect" ideas. They also have to point out examples of such erroneous actions on the part of other members of the group.

Devastating Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang will be available at:

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights in China