(en) More of the same Mr Jiang?

Thurs, 27 Feb 1997 15.41 GMT

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FREEDOM PRESS INTERNATIONAL 84b, Whitechapel High St., London E1 7QX UK (sample edition of FREEDOM on request from London) ---------------------------------- [after looking at Venezuela we shall shortly continue our focus on the UK. Meanwhile in anticipation of news and analysis from Asia which is to follow we continue to monitor events in China]

FPI - extra


In Shanghai, where these days money is God, Deng memorabilia are apparently selling well. The Chinese miss their master - or so we are told - so they will perhaps be reassured to hear the words of the new boss on the day the old one was cremated, 'We would run China's undertakings still better,' he confirmed to visiting Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev, 'and make greater contributions to the cause of peace, development and progress of mankind'. So, more of the same Mr Jiang? ------------------------ Fact File CHINA

Pop. 1,175.4m Pop per Km sq. 123 Human Development index. 64 Av inflation. 1989-94 11.5% Main Export Destination. Hong Kong (24.69%) Foreigh Debt (% of GDP) 21.4 Cost of Living Sept 1994 94 (New York=100) ----------------------- MORE PEACE The cause of peace will best be served by further nuclear testing and a few more international incidents off the East coast one must presume. Tibet and Xinjiang province may also offer some scope for 'peaceful' Chinese manoeuvrings. Jiang will want to talk to Mr Nazarbayev about more than just cremated predecessors. High on the list must be the continuing unrest over in West China. As Deng went up in smoke last Tuesday three bombs exploded on buses in Xinjiang province. At least four were killed and dozens injured. These have led to further security measures in Urumqi and other towns. In addition to this February 5th and 6th saw riots in Yining near the border with Kazakhstan. Nine were killed and the Chinese are once again blaming the Muslim fundamentalists based on Mr Nazarbayev's home patch. Their accusations were backed up none other than Mr David Levy - the Israeli foreign ministry - who grasped the crematorial opportunity to say, 'Every attempt to turn religion into a weapon becomes extremely dangerous'. We understand he kept a straight face as he dismissed a couple of millennium's history in the middle east. That Islamic fundamentalists are making hay while the sun shines in this disgruntled area is of course no surprise. Even less is perhaps the hypocrisy of those like Mr Levy who would wash their hands of responsibility. As Chinese policies continue in the region their consequences are the fuelling of ethnic tensions which the fundamentalists feed on. Much of the protest is more directly a response to, firstly, the year old crackdown by Beijing on the local Uighur population and secondly the resentment felt by this grouping towards their Han superiors. The area is rich in oil and uranium but the wealth is not exactly fairly distributed. The Han are outnumbered by the locals some two to one in the area but it is the Han who control the economy.

MORE DEVELOPMENT Did we say oil? Another topic area for Mr Jiang and Mr Nazarbayev. As an alternative to the vodka Kazakhstan is keen to drink the rice wine. The Chinese National Petroleum Company is now involved in 'developing' the Uzen oilfield near the Caspian Sea. In addition to this a f55m project to double railway capacity between the two countries is going ahead with the blessing of Japanese capital. Indeed developmental projects there are aplenty in China. The Three Gorges dam on the Yangtse river is by far the world's biggest hydro-electric power project where bidding from international capital ended last December. Mr Jiang may well be the man to make a decision here. The proposal will create a reservoir some 600km in length and flood historic sites while displacing 1,000,000 people. Given this symbol of China's 'modernisation' one must expect Mr Jiang to see it all through and thus ensure 'progress for mankind'. Who is going to get it? The Chinese regime will of course ensure that the lucky contract winners will not be too far out of line with sino-domestic and foreign policy considerations. Note how last year Airbus sneaked in ahead of Boeing after a visit by Li Peng to France and a few muffled human rights whispers from Clinton in his vote catching spectacular last year. Since then Clinton has learnt his lesson and is to sing a kinder tune. Despite public protestations on 'human rights' the Financial Times was able to report recently that Clinton's, '...election win will please few regimes more than China's'.

MORE PROGRESS Clearly progress is directionally defined and Mr Jiang and his cronies have their own idea of where they are going. The trade balance with the USA is now more of a threat to the American economy than Japan's and the pressure is on to get China into the WTO and on the path of economic liberalism. Here at the end of history there are, we are told, only winners and in China Mr Murdoch is already hoping to put them on the Chinese TV screen for all to adore. But as we continue to look for the pot of gold at the rainbow end the bodies continue to pile up and the children outside the core continue to hunger. Some progress, Mr Jiang, some progress.

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