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Document 34 of 39.

Copyright 1998 Kyodo News Service  
Japan Economic Newswire


LENGTH: 871 words

HEADLINE: Satellites, human rights taint Clinton's China trip

BYLINE: Keiji Urakami



The alleged transfer of sensitive U.S. satellite technology to China and continuing concerns about China's dismal human rights record have cast a shadow over President Bill Clinton's trip to Beijing, which begins Thursday.

Last October during his meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Clinton said his visit to China would help forge a 'constructive strategic partnership,' but recent events have put such a partnership under severe scrutiny by the public and Congress.

'The very concept of a strategic partnership was then, and is now, premature and quite possibly delusional,' said Richard Fisher, senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

'If a strategic partnership is possible, then it must be grounded in broad-based political support in Congress and among the American people,' he said.

The main issue drawing criticism from Congress is a Clinton policy that allowed American aerospace companies to export sophisticated satellites for launch aboard Chinese rockets -- a policy critics say enabled China to use U.S. satellite technology to improve the accuracy of its missiles.

Clinton has defended the 1988 accord with Beijing that created the policy, saying it served U.S. interests by bringing television and telephone services to Chinese households. He said sensitive technology was and still can be protected under 'strict safeguards,' including Defense Department monitoring of each launch.

Perhaps more importantly, the accord met the interests of U.S. industry, because launching satellites from China costs 60% less than launching from within the U.S.

The accord was suspended following the bloody Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, and it was replaced in 1990 by legislation banning the transfer of U.S. military items or satellites to China. The law, however, contains a provision allowing the president to waive the sanctions if he determines doing so would be in the national interest.

President Clinton has signed nine waivers for 12 separate launches.

Critics say Clinton approved the waivers because the chairman of Loral Space and Communications, a New York-based satellite company, was the largest personal donor to the Democratic Party in 1996.

Concerns over the technology transfer were heightened following press reports that China had targeted 13 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles at the U.S. and that China had assisted Iran and Pakistan in developing weapons of mass destruction.

'U.S. export control policy should not, directly or indirectly, serve to facilitate China's capacity to target the United States with nuclear missiles,' said Floyd Spence, a Republican congressman from South Carolina, in his opening statement at the recent House National Security Committee meeting on U.S. satellite export policy.

The satellite issue was also spotlighted when Clinton decided earlier this month to renew China's most favored nation trade status for another year.

Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said Clinton's trip to China should involve 'no concession, no deals, no permanent waivers, no new technology or science agreements and -- most importantly -- no shoehorning of China into a missile technology control regime they have been violating over the past decade.'

Clinton brushed off criticism, saying the U.S. government allowed the launch of American satellites on Chinese rockets 'for the simple reason that the demand for American satellites far outstrips America's launch capacity.'

He said Washington's engagement policy, rather than isolation policy, helped China agree to stop selling cruise missiles to Iran last October. He said the U.S. government will continue to press Beijing on nuclear proliferation.

Meanwhile, human rights activists, Chinese pro-democracy leaders and Republican lawmakers have been angered by Clinton's plan to attend a welcoming ceremony at Tiananmen Square during his state visit to Beijing.

Clinton said attending the ceremony does not mean Washington absolves China of 'its responsibility for the terrible killing' that took place there. 'Protocol and honoring a nation's traditional practices should not be confused with principle,' he said.

One day ahead of Clinton's departure, four House of Representatives members held a press conference on Capitol Hill to protest the president's attendance at the Tiananmen Square gathering.

North Carolina Republican Sue Myrick said, 'Mr. President, we wholly agree that China is of enormous economic and strategic importance to the United States...but any dialogue with China must include a frank discussion of human rights.'

'To help the president, we have taken down the flag that flies above the Stature of Freedom on our Capitol Dome. We will include this flag with a copy of our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and we will give these items to the president to take with him to China,' she said.

The Free China Movement Network, a group of exiled Chinese democrats, gathered outside the Chinese embassy Tuesday to urge Clinton to meet with pro-democracy activists during his trip to China.

The U.S. government has so far indicated Clinton has no plans to hold such a meeting.


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