China has been
in the news a lot recently. With a population that makes up one-fifth
of the total world's population and a rapidly growing economy, China
is an key player in international affairs and an important trading partner
for the U.S.
But the relationship
between China and the U.S. is very complicated. Human rights, charges
of spying and differences over international policy are just a few of
the issues that keep them apart.
Since the Communist
Revolution of 1949, China has become an interesting mix of communism
and capitalism. Every year at this time, Congress debates the rules
of trade with China. This year, Congress voted to continue business
as usual, but the discussion was heated by several recent events that
have strained our relationship.
Here are some
stories that highlight the trouble spots:
- New tensions over the
issue of Taiwan
independence. In July, The president of Taiwan, Lee Tenghui, said
that he wants Taiwan to deal with China on a special state-to-state
basis. China views Taiwan as a breakaway province, not an independent
state, and so those remarks angered the Chinese government. The sides
split amid civil war in 1949, when non-Communist leaders escaped to
the small island. China has always pushed for Taiwan's reunification
with the mainland.
President Jiang Zemin is cracking
down on Falun Gong, a Buddhist exercise, meditation group. The
government sees the group as an ideological threat to the Communist
- A recent report
in Congress stated that China has stolen secrets about every nuclear
weapon in the U.S. arsenal. China obtained missile and space technology
from U.S. companies that improved its military operations.
- In May 1999, NATO and
the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese
embassy in Kosovo, killing three people. President Clinton apologized
for the act, which provoked violent protests outside the U.S. embassy
in the capital of China, Beijing.
- China's Prime Minister,
Zhu Rongji, was in the United States in April. In a NewsHour
interview, he discussed NATO action in Kosovo, charges of nuclear
espionage, anti-China sentiments in the U.S. and human rights issues.