Friday, January 1, 1999

Cut off China from
military technology

THE unanimous finding by members of a special bipartisan committee of the House of Representatives that China has obtained highly sensitive military technology from the United States, sometimes through theft, ought to awaken Americans to the need for greater vigilance in dealing with the Communist regime in Beijing. The committee, in a classified report, said the technology acquired by the Chinese included nuclear weapons design.

In a statement after the report was approved, the committee's chairman, Christopher Cox, R-Calif., said that China's acquisition of American technology had harmed U.S. national security. He said the efforts to acquire U.S. technology over the past two decades had been a "serious, sustained" activity.

Although the committee's investigation was prompted by reports of information losses during the Clinton administration, officials said the committee report criticized policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations as well. It did not say whether the problems were worse in one administration than in another. It made 38 recommendations for legislation or executive orders to address those policy failures, covering areas including security at U.S. weapons laboratories, handling of sensitive intelligence data and export controls.

The period under review goes back to the 1979 diplomatic recognition of Beijing by the Carter administration, which led to a warming of relations between China and the United States until the 1989 Tiananmen Square debacle. In the last few years, attempts have been made to resuscitate the relationship, culminating in President Clinton's visit to China last summer.

Interest by American firms in doing business with China, as well as Washington's desire to maintain stable, even cordial, relations with Beijing for geopolitical reasons have given U.S. officials incentives to minimize China's human rights abuses and its acquisitions of technology with military applications.

The reality is that the Chinese Communists are not our friends nor are they willing to introduce freedom and democracy. President Jiang Zemin reiterated just this week that his regime is strongly opposed to Western democracy. Meanwhile prominent dissenters were sentenced to long prison terms.

The Communists are building up their armed forces and clearly hope to challenge Washington for military dominance in East Asia. Someday they may use the technology they are getting from us against American forces -- perhaps in a conflict over Taiwan.

Although Washington should be careful not to provoke the Chinese needlessly, it would be folly to continue to give them access to advanced technology with military applications.


Organ transplants

IN an attempt to help Hawaii residents awaiting life-saving organ and tissue transplants, two key lawmakers will try to encourage more donations. Senate Health Chairwoman Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-Liliha, and House Health Chairman Alex Santiago, D-Pupukea, are both supportive of recommendations made by the Legislative Reference Bureau and plan to examine them in the upcoming session.

Noting that Hawaii has one of the nation's worst records when it comes to organ donors -- only six "solid organs" such as hearts, kidneys and lungs out of about 4,000 deaths in the first half of 1998 -- the bureau has recommended:

bullet A $400 fine be imposed each time a hospital fails to promptly report an impending death to the Organ Donor Center of Hawaii.

bullet A $1 surcharge be added to each driver's license application or renewal to establish an organ and tissue education special fund.

bullet The lieutenant governor conduct an ongoing public education program about the benefits of organ and tissue transplants.

Robyn Kaufman, executive director of the Organ Donor Center of Hawaii, lauded the ideas and pointed out that the federal government has begun requiring mandatory organ and tissue referrals from hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement programs.

Whatever it takes to significantly reduce the waiting list for transplants -- including the ideas proffered by the Legislative Reference Bureau -- is worth consideration.


Criticism from friends

FOR all his bluster, Saddam Hussein may be getting desperate. By firing missiles at U.S. and British aircraft patroling the no-fly zones over Iraq, the dictator seems to be trying to show his sympathizers that he is worth supporting. But his support is melting away and he is turning on his erstwhile friends.

Among them are the French, who have endorsed ending the oil embargo and other sanctions against Iraq. But both President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said the Iraqi leadership bore responsibility for the recent allied bombing by refusing to cooperate with weapons inspectors.

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak also incurred Saddam Hussein's ire by stating that Egypt sympathized with the Iraqi people, who are suffering, but "the regime in power is the root of all problems." Egypt opposes holding a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers at which Iraq was expected to demand that the league defy international sanctions. Arab League diplomats say they have tried to exert a moderating influence and do not want to be drawn into support of Baghdad.

The Iraqis have charged that "Anglo-Saxons" dominate the arms inspection system and that President Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair are under the influence of "Zionist cliques." That doesn't account for the criticism by the French and the Egyptians.

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