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Clinton's China visit - The Economic Times

K N Daruwalla ()
July 6, 1998

Title: Clinton's China visit
Author: K N Daruwalla
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: July 6, 1998

On the face of it, President Clinton had more problems before he
set off for Beijing than during the actual visit. Earlier,
stories proliferated, each with its own angle. The state
reception at Tiananmen square brought in the human rights angle.
Then followed the Jhonny Chung angle, the Bernard Schwartz

Where do these outlandish names come from? They all have to do
with the dubious Chinese funding of the Democratic Party. Johnny
Chung, a California-based Chinese American, who had pleaded
guilty to tax and fraud charges, had admitted that the Chinese
intelligence had passed on $100,000 to the Democratic Party
through him. His dubious contributions to the Democratic National
Committee came to $366,000 and subsequently had to be returned.

A hardline lobby (there were murmurs even in the Pentagon) were
unhappy that "American satellite exports resulted in the transfer
of technology that conceivably could help China aim more
accurately at American targets in space". (The charge was
squarely met at the summit, where each side promised to refrain
>from targeting its nuclear missiles on the other) This lobby kept
pointing out that the White House gave Loral Space and
Communications Ltd a waiver to have their satellite launched
through a Chinese rocket. The fact that the chief executive of
the firm, Bernard L. Schwartz, also happened to be the largest
contributor to the Democratic Party in 1996 with a whopping
donation of $632,000 is relevant.

The charges that US interests have been compromised and sensitive
satellite technology passed on to the Chinese in the American
eagerness to tap their market have caused concern. Also the
emerging nexus between American industry and the Chinese security-
industrial complex, facilitating leading-edge technology
transfers to Beijing. Motorola, Lucent Technologies, computer
associates are merely some of the firms which have invested
heavily in terms of technology transfers and money to firms
connected with the Chinese military and security apparatus.

Mr Clinton gave the Chinese a clean chit on the proliferation
front. Even before his visit, speaking to Radio Free Asia
journalists on June 23, he stated "I've seen the Chinese work
with us with great reliability ... I could just mention a few
things ... on the NPT, the CTBT, the Chemical weapons Treaty,
stopping cooperation with Pakistan and Iran on a lot of their
nuclear areas".

This is a bit hard to take. Have we forgotten how the CTBT had to
wait even as China blasted away with test after test barely two
years back. (If only we had done our Pokhran II then! The
President obviously forgot what his agencies have been telling
him all along that China was behind Pakistan's Ghauri and their
blasts at Chagai.

If Mr Clinton said that he had felt the "steady breeze of
freedom" emerging in China during his 9-day visit, it is his
prerogative to say so. In all fairness he criticised China's
human rights record. He said "freedom of speech, treatment of
Citizens with respect, election of leaders and religious
liberties were essential to allow economic stability". (The
accent, it would be noticed, is on the economy. Morality is
hardly the kind of word that would pass muster in political
discourse today).

US and China seem to have wrapped up an agreement on peaceful use
of nuclear technology besides signing contracts worth about $2
billion, including the sale of 27 Boeing aircraft. General
Electric have got six contracts to sell turbine power generators
while Phoschen Cargill have bagged a $400 million contract to
sell two million tonnes of chemical fertilisers. Hence, on the
economic front, the visit has been a success.

So far so good. For India the rub comes in when Clinton keeps
harping on a Chinese role in South Asia. There was talk of a
"common strategy to move India and Pakistan away from further
testing". According to President Jiang Zemin himself, three areas
of cooperation were focussed on (a) mitigating the Asian
financial crisis, (b) opposing nuclear proliferation in South
Asia and (c) safeguarding peace and stability in the Korean
Peninsula. With such an across-the-board mandate, US seems to
have handed over to China the subedari of Asia. This
subcontracting will not do. Asking China to oppose nuclear or
missile proliferation in South Asia ins like handing over wild
life conservation to a poacher. There could be few ironies to
beat this - calling upon the biggest nuclear and missile
proliferator in the region to "oversee" or dabble in this
sensitive of all issues.

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