NAPSNet Daily Report 13 July, 1998

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 13 July, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, July 13, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-13-july-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. People’s Republic of China

I. United States

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1. Body of Alleged DPRK Infiltrator Found

The Associated Press (“S. KOREA ON ALERT AFTER BODY FOUND,” Seoul, 07/12/98) and the New York Times (Nicholas D. Kristof, “DEAD DIVER FROM NORTH PUTS SEOUL ON ALERT,” Tokyo, 07/13/98) reported that the body of a person believed to have been a DPRK spy was found Sunday in the ROK. Defense Ministry doctors examined the body and said that the man had died of a heart attack and had been dead between 24 and 48 hours. The diver, whose body apparently washed up on the beach, was carrying a Czech-made submachine gun, a hand grenade, radio transmission, gear and an underwater camera, the ROK military said. Nearby, investigators found a cone-shaped aluminum submersible boat that could carry up to five commandos. Kang Jun-kwon, an ROK Defense Ministry spokesman, said in a statement, “Judging from the objects found, it has been proven that the dead diver was an armed infiltrator.” He added, “We … urge North Korea to stop reckless armed provocations and warn sternly that we would not tolerate this kind of action.” ROK troops on the eastern coast were placed on alert Sunday and a curfew was declared in the area. Lee Jong- chan, head of the ROK Agency of National Security Planning, warned last week that the DPRK might step up spying and terrorism against the ROK in the next couple of months before the expected inauguration of DPRK leader Kim Jong-il as president. Some DPRK experts have also suggested that some elements within the DPRK leadership are trying to derail the ROK’s efforts to promote peace and allow hard-liners to prevail in the ROK, as Kim Dae-jung’s policy derails the DPRK’s anti-ROK propaganda.

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2. Kim Jong-il’s Ascension

The Associated Press (“N. KOREAN MOVES NEARER PRESIDENCY,” Seoul, 07/12/98) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong-il on Sunday announced that he will run in constituency No. 666 in the July 26 elections for the Supreme People’s Assembly. The move followed appeals by all DPRK parliamentary constituencies nominating Kim as their only candidate last week. ROK analysts see the move as a step toward his assumption of the president’s office. Naewoe Press, the ROK government-run news agency which monitors the DPRK, said, “The abnormal state in North Korea may finally be coming to an end.” DPRK watchers in Seoul said that Kim is likely to be elected president around September 9, when the DPRK celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding.

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3. US-ROK Cooperation on DPRK Policy

The Associated Press (Kalpana Srinivasan, “SKOREAN OFFICIAL URGES US ALLIANCE,” Washington, 07/10/98) reported that ROK Defense Minister Chun Yong-taek said Friday that the ROK hopes its relations with the US will help ease the effects of the Asian financial crisis and promote engagement with the DPRK. Chun stated, “It goes without saying that deterrence and crisis management on the Korean Peninsula serve the vital interests of both Korea and the United States.” He pointed to the recent seizure of a DPRK submarine as evidence of the tensions on the peninsula, saying that the capture “outraged the Korean people” since it occurred 18 months after a similar incident. He added, “This incident, once again, made me realize the difficulties involved in crisis management on the Korean Peninsula, considering North Korea’s inconsistent dual behavior of provocation and accommodation.” He said that persuading the DPRK to abandon its use of military force, open itself to reform, and sign the Chemical Weapons Convention should be among the joint goals of US and ROK policy. Chun also argued that the Asian financial crisis has created a new threat from DPRK by creating the potential for chaos from widespread famine and refugee flows. He stressed the need for crisis management to prevent these issues from undermining stability on the peninsula. Chun concluded, “We must employ an appropriate mix of sticks and carrots to ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and, at the same time, prevent North Korean from using brinkmanship tactics and famine as its negotiation cards.”

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4. ROK-PRC Relations

The Associated Press (“CHINA PRAISES S. KOREA FOR WEATHERING ECONOMIC CRISIS,” Beijing, 07/13/98) reported that PRC President Jiang Zemin, in a meeting with ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Park Chung-soo on Monday, praised the ROK as having weathered the worst of its financial crisis. Jiang also said that the PRC would continue to play its part in easing Asia’s financial troubles. Jiang said that the PRC has consistently hoped for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and has played “its due role” in that regard. Park responded by praising the PRC for not devaluing its currency. He said, “the stability and development of China’s political and economic situation is extremely important to Asia’s future.” ROK Foreign Ministry officials said before his departure that Park would seek the PRC’s support for ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s policy of expanding contacts and cooperation with the DPRK.

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5. Taiwanese Independence

The Wall Street Journal (Russell Flannery, “CLINTON’S COMMENTS GIVE BOOST TO TAIWAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY,” Taipei, 07/13/98) reported that Ben Wei, the acting secretary general of the Taiwan Independence Party, said that US President Bill Clinton’s remarks about Taiwan last month in Shanghai has boosted his party’s popularity. Wei stated, “Clinton’s action in Shanghai will help us win more votes. Almost every day we’re invited by a TV talk show, and we get a lot of call-ins to support us.” The Taiwan Independence Party believes that Taiwan should move as quickly as possible to hold a plebiscite on whether to alter its constitution and make the island formally independent from the PRC. Wei said that he is not worried about military reprisals by the PRC if Taiwan formally declares independence, arguing, “Before 2005, China doesn’t have sufficient military power to attack Taiwan.” Milton Yeh, a senior Chinese political expert at the Taiwan Institution of International Relations, said that perceptions that the Clinton administration is tilting toward the PRC may cause some supporters of Taiwanese independence to switch from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to the Taiwan Independence Party. Yeh stated, “Clinton’s statement brings a lot of trouble for the DPP.” Likewise Tim Ting, chief consultant at Gallup Taiwan, said that the Taiwan Independence Party could win as much as 5 percent in year-end legislative elections. Ting said, “The independence supporters in the DPP are in panic” that their supporters will back Taiwan Independence Party candidates. However, a poll by the Taiwan cable station TVBS found support for independence at 19 percent last month, down from 30 percent last October. The same poll showed that only 13.5 of respondents supported reunification with the PRC, down from 22.5 percent nine months ago.

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6. French Arms Sales to Taiwan

Reuters (“FRANCE READY TO RESUME TAIWAN ARM SALES,” Taipei, 07/13/98) reported that Taipei’s United Daily News said on Monday that France had offered to sell advanced torpedoes and 1,500-ton frigates to Taiwan. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry declined to comment and no Taiwan government officials would corroborate the report. France had promised the PRC in 1994 to stop such sales.

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7. Japanese-Russian Relations

The Associated Press (“REPORT: JAPAN BOATS HELD BY RUSSIA,” Moscow, 07/11/98) reported that the ITAR-Tass news agency said Saturday that Russian border guards detained four Japanese fishing vessels off the disputed Kuril Islands and escorted them to port for investigation. Russian President Boris Yeltsin spoke by telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, but it unclear whether the boating incident was discussed.

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8. Resignation of Japanese Prime Minister

The Washington Post (Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, “JAPAN’S PREMIER QUITS AFTER ELECTION SETBACK,” Tokyo, 07/13/98, A01), the Associated Press (Eric Talmadge, “JAPANESE PREMIER HASHIMOTO RESIGNS,” Tokyo, 07/13/98), Reuters, (Brian Williams, “JAPAN IN LIMBO WITH NEW LEADER 17 DAYS AWAY,” Tokyo, 07/13/98), and the New York Times (Nicholas D. Kristof, “JAPANESE PREMIER RESIGNS AS VOTERS REBUKE HIS PARTY,” Tokyo, 07/13/98) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto resigned Monday after his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) suffered a defeat in national parliamentary elections on Sunday. In an election that featured a 60 percent turnout, the ruling retained only 44 seats of the 61 it was defending in the upper house, leaving it with 102 of the house’s 252 seats. The Communist Party picked up nine new seats for a total of 15, while the Democratic Party also picked up nine seats for a total of 27. The LDP still holds a 13-vote majority in the lower house. Hashimoto stated, “The defeat in the elections is solely my responsibility … everything is my responsibility; there is nothing else to be said.” Hashimoto will remain in office until a successor is chosen from his party by the Diet when it meets later this month. Hashimoto had been scheduled to travel to Washington next week for a state visit, but he announced at his news conference that he would call US President Bill Clinton to cancel the trip. Democratic Party leader Naoto Kan called for early elections for the lower house. Lower house general elections must be held by 2000.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Light-Water Reactor Project

ROK companies involved in the DPRK nuclear reactor project are concerned about their future venture as the key member countries of the US-led consortium failed to make progress in cost-sharing talks. The Korea Electric Power Corp., Hyundai Construction Co., and Dong-Ah Construction Co., which have been engaged in leveling the grounds in preparation for the full-fledged reactor construction in Kumho, are close to completing their task. Under a preliminary contract with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), they are scheduled to finish the preparatory works by early next month. However, the ROK workers will have to leave the construction site next month if the ROK, Japan, and the US fail to agree on how to share the estimated total cost of around US$4.6 billion. Other possible options are to extend the contract on ground-leveling construction or go on with the main construction and pay later in order to keep the ROK engineers at the construction site. The ROK pledged to pay 70 percent of the total cost while Japan vowed to offer US$1 billion. The remaining amount, estimated at US$400 million, has yet to be committed by any country. (Korea Times, “S. KOREAN FIRMS CONCERNED OVER DELAY IN KEDO TALKS,” 07/13/96)

The US government is seeking funds to purchase fuel oil for the DPRK that was promised in the 1994 Geneva agreement, the US State Department said on July 6. The administration has persuaded the US Congress to grant US$5 million to pay for additional shipments of 66,000 metric tons of fuel oil to be delivered later this month. Even with the latest installment, however, more then half of the promised shipment of heavy oil remains in limbo, raising fears that the agreement might collapse. (Korea Times, “US SEEKS FUNDS TO SALVAGE NORTH KOREAN NUKE DEAL,” 07/08/98)

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2. US Sanctions on DPRK

The DPRK demanded Saturday that the US end economic sanctions against it to open the way for bigger and swifter supplies of food and medicine. The DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried the demand and reported that the country’s food stock has run out and many people were living on “substitute food,” meaning grass, bark, and roots. Quoting the UN World Food Program and other relief agencies, the DPRK said that the outside world needs to “pay deep concern” to the DPRK, where farm crops were damaged again this year by bad weather. “The US should, in response to their humanitarian appeal, lift the unreasonable ban on the DPRK as early as possible for wide-ranging assistance,” KCNA said. (Korea Times, “NK DEMANDS WASHINGTON TO LIFT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS,” 07/13/98)

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3. Body of Alleged DPRK Infiltrator Found

A drowned body of an apparent armed DPRK agent and his submersible propulsion unit was found on the shore near Tonghae in Kangwon province, only twenty days after a submarine was captured in the East Sea. The local military issued an alert and started a search to find any other infiltrators. Residents in the area found the wetsuit-clad body along with double diving tanks, and notified the police at 9:20 am. The corpse was also wearing black fins and carrying a Czech made sub-machine gun, a knife, an underwater camera, and other equipment. The 1.57-meter long underwater propulsion unit was found by a fishing boat approximately 70 meters away. A spokesman from the ROK Ministry of Defense said that, considering the weapons and equipment, it is almost certain that the man was an armed DPRK agent. Given the condition of the body and the fact that there was still air coming out of the tanks, he estimated that the man had been dead between 24 and 41 hours. Experts said that, because the propulsion unit was built for 3 to 5 persons, there is a strong possibility that other agents had infiltrated between Friday morning and Saturday morning. Equipment found with the body included: 1 submachine gun, 2 hand grenades, 4 ammunition magazines, 1 bayonet, 1 radio receiver, 1 radio, 1 double tank scuba set, 1 dive mask, l snorkel, 1 flashlight, 1 shovel, 2 bags of rice powder, 2 bags of chocolate, 1 box of matches, 1 sewing kit with black thread, 2 emergency radio sets, 1 battery for the radio, 1 blue vest, 1 beige jumper, and 1 set of marine maps with the ROK towns of Kansong, Joomanjin, Chongdongjin, and Sansungwoori marked. (Chosun Ilbo, “BODY OF NORTH KOREAN INFILTRATOR FOUND,’ 07/13/98)

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4. ROK-DPRK Relations

ROK Defense Minister Chun Yong-taek said Sunday that the situation on the Korean peninsula was in a state of “agony after victory,” as the inter- Korean duel of ideology continues despite the end of the Cold War. Chun argued that the best medicine to deal with the DPRK is a continued policy of engagement. “Through such a policy, the ROK seeks to prevent the DPRK’s sudden collapse and induce a change in its system, thereby the maintaining peace and stability of the peninsula,” Minister Chun said in his speech to the Statesmen’s Forum at the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Hawaii. Touching on doubts of the effectiveness of this policy following the June 22 intrusion by a DPRK submarine, Chun said, “The new generation’s engagement policy will increase transparency in the North’s internal situation and weaken the position of DPRK hard-liners,” which will cause a change in its armed provocations. The ROK’s recent conciliatory approach toward the DPRK is a major turn from its erstwhile strong anti-DPRK policy. In order for this policy to bear fruit, Chun suggested that six steps be taken by the ROK and the US: inducing the DPRK to abandon its will to use military force; forestalling the DPRK’s ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction; establishing a permanent peace regime; military confidence- building; developing a contingency plan for famine and the subsequent refugee situation; and introducing more openness into the DPRK. Turning to the recent series of developments in the DPRK, Chun summed them up as “volatile,” with no mechanism left to check and balance the military, which has a growing say in state affairs under Kim Jong-il’s military- first policy. (Korea Times, ROK DEFENSE MINISTER VOWS ON CONTINUED NK ENGAGEMENT,” 07/13/98)

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5. Reunion of Separated Families

The ROK Ministry of Unification reported its overall policy planning to President Kim Dae-jung on Saturday. Minister Kang In-duck was given permission to pursue all possible means to ensure displaced families were reunited with their relatives in the DPRK. This allows Kang to seek alternate routes utilizing private contacts. Kim also ordered Kang to ask the DPRK for assurances that there will be no more submarine incursions. (Chosun Ilbo, “REUNION OF DISPLACED FAMILIES POSSIBLE BY PRIVATE CHANNELS,” 07/06/98)

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6. ROK-DPRK Investment Forum

The DPRK is reportedly planning to invite 100 ROK Businessmen to an investment forum to be held in the Rajin-Sonbong free trade area in September. According to recent reports, the DPRK began selecting ROK companies to participate in the three-day international forum. Apart from the forum, the reports said, ROK visitors may be given a briefing on investment from the DPRK side. However, officials of the ROK Unification Ministry said that none of the ROK companies have received invitations from the DPRK. (Korea Herald, “NORTH KOREA TO INVITE 100 SOUTH KOREAN BUSINESSMEN,” 07/07/98)

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7. Kim Jong-il’s Ascension

DPRK leader Kim Jong-il on Sunday announced that he had picked a constituency for upcoming parliamentary polls, in a move seen as further clearing the way for him to become president. In an open letter to the nation, Kim said he had decided to run for constituency 666 in the Supreme People’s Assembly election, which analysts say will herald his assumption of the last top office of state. Kim Jong-il, in a letter read out loud over Pyongyang radio, thanked voters for nominating him for the July 26 election. Last week, he was nominated as the sole candidate by every constituency in the country. “I have decided to get myself registered in constituency No. 666 for the 10th Supreme People’s Assembly,” Kim said in the letter, which was broadcast by Pyongyang Radio and monitored in the ROK. “I will pay back the people’s confidence in me by holding up highly the Great Leader Kim Il-sung’s patriotism and people-loving ideology,” Kim Jong-il was quoted as saying in the letter. (Han Kook Ilbo, “KIM JONG-IL MOVES CLOSER TO NK PRESIDENCY,” 07/13/98)

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8. ROK-Russia Spying Row

ROK and Russian intelligence officials have started a behind-the-scenes dialogue aimed us preventing the current diplomatic row from developing into a major showdown, and the first round of talks appears to have been fruitful, informed sources said Sunday. ROK Foreign Ministry officials had initially feared that Russia might take further action, including the expulsion of a second ROK diplomat based in Moscow, after the ROK banished a Russian diplomat in retaliation for Russia’s expulsion of an ROK intelligence expert on July 4. However, Russia has not taken any further retaliatory action, leading to speculation that intelligence authorities are narrowing their differences and successfully containing the incident through dialogue. The incident is said to have taken place because the respective intelligence agencies failed to iron out their differences on the scope of their agents’ activities, which led officials in both countries to claim publicly that intelligence officers serving under diplomatic cover of the capitals of the two nations had crossed a line which was not meant to be violated. (Korea Times, “SEOUL, MOSCOW TRY TO AVERT CRISIS THRU INTELLIGENCE TALKS,” 07/13/98)

Russia’s decision to expel an ROK diplomat is regarded as a slap in the face to the Kim Dae-jung administration, because it has sought to improve relations with Russia since Kim’s inauguration on February 25, officials in the ROK said. The ROK’s top security policymakers are on the threshold of giving greater recognition to Russia’s role in this part of the world by calling for the creation of a six-nation security arrangement to include Russia, they said. (Korea Times, “RUSSIA DEALS BLOW TO KOREA’S EFFORTS TO IMPROVE RELATIONS,” 07/07/98)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) issued a statement Sunday expressing regret over the Russian government’s detention and expulsion of an ROK diplomat on spy charges. Russian authorities ordered Cho Sung-woo, a consul at the ROK Embassy in Moscow, to leave Russia after he was detained on charges of espionage Saturday. According to reports, the Federal Security Service alleged that Cho met a Russian contact employed in the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who provided confidential information to Korean intelligence. The Russian official is being investigated by the authorities, but Cho, who has diplomatic immunity, was released after a formal complaint was filed with the embassy. This was the first time for either the ROK or Russia to expel a diplomat on charges of espionage since 1990, when they established formal diplomatic ties. (Chosun Ilbo, “RUSSIA EXPELS SOUTH KOREAN DIPLOMAT,” 07/06/98)

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9. US-ROK Weapons Trade

Defense Minister Chun Yong-taek told reporters Thursday that he and his US counterpart, William Cohen, have agreed to study a variety of measures whereby the US would import weapons parts produced in the ROK. Included in the discussions was possible US approval to allow the ROK to export to third countries weapons produced with US technical support. Secretary Cohen’s agreement to study these measures came after Chun’s request for US support for the defense industry in the ROK. The two defense heads also agreed to study methods for the ROK to supply weapons and military equipment to the US army stationed in the ROK. Cohen further agreed that he would see whether legal restrictions concerning the supply of US- licensed weaponry manufactured in the ROK to third countries could be eased. (Chosun Ilbo, 07/13/98)

III. People’s Republic of China

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1. PRC Food Aid to DPRK

People’s Daily (“CHINA’S FOOD AID ARRIVES IN DPRK,” Pyongyang, 07/10/98, A7) reported that 100,000 tons of rice and 20,000 of fertilizer, which the PRC Government decided to provide free of charge to the DPRK, arrived in the DPRK on July 6. However, according to the report from the Korean Central News Agency, the DPRK will still face a shortage of food this year because of its natural calamities.

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2. PRC-US Relations

China Daily (“DIALOGUE CRUCIAL TO RELATIONSHIP,” 07/10/98, A4) said that, despite the great achievements of US President Clinton’s PRC visit, there remain huge differences between the PRC and the US, which will require both sides to take pragmatic and sober-minded views to overcome. Yuan Ming, Director of the Institute of International Relations at Beijing University, said that the PRC has always been against US arms sales to Taiwan, which is an integral part of China. The renewal of the US-Japan security alliance has increased the PRC’s suspicions that such an alliance would extend to the Taiwan Straits. Pressures from the US side on economic issues such as Most Favored Nation status for the PRC and the PRC’s entry into the World Trade Organization have considerable negative impact on economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. Noises always rise in the US on such issues as human rights, the trade imbalance between the two nations, the PRC’s arms sales, and religious freedom in the PRC. It is not easy to resolve these difference in the short-term, Yuan said. According to her, a dialogue mechanism based on common interests between the two countries will promote mutual understanding.

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3. PRC-US Military Cooperation

Yan Xuetong, a research fellow with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, published an article in China Daily (“CLOSER MILITARY TIES BENEFIT CHINA, US,” 07/06/98, A4) which said that achievements in Sino-US military cooperation growing out of US President Bill Clinton’s PRC visit are of great interest and are expected to improve bilateral ties between the two armies. According to Yan, the bountiful fruits of bilateral military cooperation brought by Clinton’s visit show that the two countries are once again determined to develop common security interests while discussing political conflicts. Although relations between the two armies were greatly promoted by Clinton’s visit, Yan said, bilateral ties still have many restraints. While cooperation on security issues aims to avoid military confrontation and conflict on both sides, it is an ambiguous deal and there is no clear-cut responsibility for both sides to obey. With the end of the Cold War era, a structural contradiction between the PRC and the US emerged. Cooperation between the two sides will focus on increasing mutual military openness and strengthening joint military strategy and capability. Personnel exchanges between the two sides will play an important part in such a mutual understanding. These exchanges will include not only high-ranking officers but also researchers in strategic studies. Exchanges between lower ranking officers and mutual training activities will also be promoted. It is possible that the two sides will hold joint military exercises on a small scale in the near future, including participation in a non-military on-sea rescue or anti-piracy exercises. Solid military ties between the PRC and the US will help promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, the author concluded.

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4. Cross-Straits Relations

People’s Daily (“TAIWAN UN PROPOSAL CONDEMNED,” Beijing, 07/11/98, A2) reported that the PRC Government expressed strong indignation on July 10 over a proposal by Nicaragua and a number of other countries calling for discussion of Taiwan’s “representation” in the UN. PRC Foreign ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang said that the move was an overt attempt to create “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.” Tang called it a serious matter and an attempt to trample on the UN Charter, as well as interference in China’s internal affairs. He pointed out that the PRC Government’s basic policy on the Taiwan issue is “peaceful reunification and ‘one country, two systems’,” which was first tried in Hong Kong from July 1, 1997. The PRC firmly believes that the Taiwan issue will be properly solved eventually in accordance with the same policy. National reunification is the basic guarantee of the Taiwan people’s interests and they can in this way share the motherland’s dignity and honor in the world, the official added.

According to China Daily (“STRAITS EXCHANGES DISCUSSED,” 07/09/98, A1), a top negotiator said on July 12 that the scheduled visit of Koo Chen-fu, chairman of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), to the mainland this autumn will be of little political significance unless Taiwan makes a positive response to the mainland’s proposals. SEF and its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) reached consensus late last month on inviting Koo to visit the mainland in mid-September or mid-October. ARATS suggested that leaders of the two organizations could exchange views on holding procedural talks for cross-Straits political negotiations, ARATS Vice- President Tang Shubei said. However, SEF has not given a clear reaction to the suggestion so far, Tang said on July 8. Tang said that cross- Straits issues should be discussed and solved by the Chinese themselves; however, for historical reasons, the US was involved in the issue. US President Bill Clinton said in public during his state visit to the PRC that the US will strictly implement the three PRC-US joint communiques and observe a “three noes” policy.

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