I. United States
1. DPRK Nuclear Weapons Program Acknowledgement
The Associated Press (George Gedda, “NORTH KOREA ACKNOWLEDES SECRET WEAPONS PROGRAM,” Washington, 10/16/02) reported that the DPRK has told the US that it has a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of an agreement signed with the Clinton administration, a senior administration official said Wednesday night. The DPRK also told US diplomats it no longer is beholden to the anti-nuclear agreement, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The disclosure, which stunned senior administration officials, is certain to chill US-DPRK relations. On October 3-5, US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly flew to Pyongyang for security talks and demanded that the DPRK address global concerns about its nuclear and other weapons programs. In response, the DPRK accused Bush’s special envoy of making “threatening remarks.” The United States refused all comment on the discussions. The source said Kelly also raised with the DPRK evidence that the DPRK may have a uranimum-enrichment program. The program, which the United States believes would only be used to develop a nuclear bomb, began under the Clinton administration, according to the official. The DPRK confirmed the allegation. The administration has not decided how to respond. “We’re going to keep talking,” the official said.
2. PRC Domestic Economy
Agence France-Presse (“CHINA’S ECONOMY SURGES AHEAD AS GROWTH HITS 7.9 PERCENT,” 10/16/02) reported that the PRC’s economy grew 7.9 percent in the first nine months of 2002, driven by a continued policy of massive state spending as well as strong domestic demand and surging exports, the government announced. Growth hit 8.1 percent year-on-year for the third quarter alone, all but guaranteeing Asia’s second-largest economy will easily exceed its stated 7.0 percent growth target for 2002, the National Bureau of Statistics said. “We estimate GDP will grow by 7.8 percent for the whole year,” the bureau’s chief economist Yao Jingyuan told reporters Wednesday. Fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to be at least 7.8 percent, he said. A long-standing policy of driving growth through massive government spending continued, with state spending accounting for a huge 21 percent of GDP for the first three quarters, the figures showed.
3. PRC on Iraq
Agence France-Presse (“MYSTERY OVER CHINA’S STANCE ON IRAQ REMAINS AFTER ANNAN VISIT,” 10/16/02) reported that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was leaving the PRC after meeting a string of leaders to discuss Iraq — an issue on which the PRC’s precise stance remains as opaque as ever. Annan, who was scheduled to leave Wednesday morning, met President Jiang Zemin, Vice President Hu Jintao — tipped to succeed Jiang next month — and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan among others during a 60-hour visit. Although the UN head also discussed issues such as the PRC’s growing AIDS crisis, the current international wrangling over what to do about Baghdad’s alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction loomed large in talks. Annan emerged from Monday’s meeting with Jiang expressing confidence that a consensus would be reached soon about Iraq within the apparently divided UN Security Council. However, despite lavishly praising the UN and calling for it to be at the centre of any settlement, none of the PRC leaders even hinted how this could, or should, come about. The PRC has called in vague terms for a political resolution and expressing disquiet over US calls for military action, but giving no hint as to what it might back. According to analysts, this apparently enigmatic stance reflects nothing more than that the PRC, though deeply wary of action against Iraq, has genuinely not made up its mind.
4. Taiwan Army Lieutenant Defection
Reuters (Alice Hung, “TAIWAN ARMY LIEUTENANT FLEES TO CHINA WITH FAMILY,” Taipei, 10/16/02) reported that a Taiwan army officer from a sensitive air defence unit has fled to the PRC with his family in the first such case in decades, prompting an apology from the island’s defense minister. Wang Yi-hung, a political warfare officer with a Hawk surface-to-air missile company, flew to Beijing from Bangkok on October 7 and has not returned, but it was too early to label it a defection, the military said on Wednesday. “The military apologizes to our countrymen for lieutenant Wang’s unauthorized trip to the mainland,” minister Tang Yiau-ming told parliament’s defence sub-committee on Wednesday. The news came a day after Taiwan authorities said a PRC former labor activist, Tang Yuanjun, had defected and requested political asylum in a case that could complicate Taiwan’s attempts to improve relations with the PRC. The military has issued an order for Wang’s arrest but said it had yet to determine whether it was a defection by the lieutenant, who it said did not have access to military secrets. “It is likely that it was a premeditated escape,” Lieutenant-General Hsu Shih-chin told reporters.
5. PRC-RF Radioactive Smuggling
Reuters (“KAZAKH CUSTOMS FOIL ATTEMPT TO SMUGGLE RADIOACTIVE WASTE FROM RUSSIA TO CHINA,” Almaty, Kazakhstan, 10/16/02) reported that customs officers in eastern Kazakhstan have foiled an attempt to smuggle nearly 900 kilograms (1,980 pounds) of radioactive waste into the PRC through this former Soviet republic in Central Asia, officials said Wednesday. Customs inspectors on the Kazakh-PRC border seized 17 sacks containing a light-brown substance and one sack with a dark substance on September 30, said Valentina Lisitskaya, a regional customs department official. The sacks had come from Russia and were bound from Russia to the PRC, she said. The sacks were hidden under the wooden floor of a truck. Radiological tests at the national epidemiological center identified the substances as low-level radioactive waste, authorities said. The cargo belonged to a private Russian firm and was shipped to a PRC citizen. The substances have been put in safe storage, the truck driver has been taken into custody and the case is being investigated, officials said.
6. PRC-US Military Ties
Reuters (Jeremy Page, “CHINA HOPES FOR MILITARY TIES ON JIANG’S U.S. VISIT,” Beijing, 10/16/02) reported that the PRC hopes to agree to resume full military exchanges with the US when President Jiang Zemin meets President Bush at his Texas ranch next week, a senior PRC official said on Wednesday. Jiang is expected to focus on these issues, terrorism and trade when he meets Bush in Crawford, Texas, on October 25 for a summit that will crown Jiang’s diplomatic career before a Communist Party congress in November, when he is due to retire. The US curbed military exchanges such as ship visits and invitations to watch war games after a US spy plane and a PRC fighter collided in April 2001, sending bilateral ties into a tailspin shortly after Bush took office. “Right now, the military-to-military relations are not normal,” said the official. “I think it’s in our common interests to be back to where they should be.” The third Bush-Jiang meeting “will be an opportunity for the two sides to agree to proceed and we hope that both sides will agree to seize the opportunity to do it,” he said.
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