Tuesday, April 6, 1999

Clinton should voice
U.S. concerns to China

Bullet The issue: Sino-U.S. relations are strained as Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji visits Washington.
Bullet Our view: President Clinton should state U.S. concerns forcefully to Zhu.

PRESIDENT Clinton's efforts during his trip to China last summer to persuade Beijing to respect human rights while appeasing the Chinese on the issue of Taiwan were futile. After his departure the Communist regime embarked on the biggest crackdown on organized dissent since the Tiananmen Square massacre 10 years ago. In response, the Clinton administration, at the urging of Congress, is seeking censure of China's human rights abuses by the United Nations.

But that's not the only awkward factby any means accompanying Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji on his visit to Washington this week.

There is the disclosure that China stole important nuclear weapons secrets from U.S. laboratories and the charge that Clinton administration officials dragged their feet in responding after the facts were presented to them.

There is China's strident opposition to U.S. development of a missile defense system and its threats to retaliate if Washington shares such systems with Japan or Taiwan. There is Washington's recent cancelation of a major communications satellite deal because the Pentagon persuaded the White House that the technology could be militarily useful to China.

And there is the matter of illegal Chinese contributions to Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign. Johnny Chung, a former Democratic fund-raiser, has told federal investigators the chief of Chinese military intelligence directed the sending of $300,000 to subsidize campaign contributions intended for Clinton. Chung, an American citizen born in Taiwan, pleaded guilty last year to election law violations. Clinton may not have solicited such contributions but his organization evidently failed to stop them.

China also opposes NATO's intervention in Kosovo, even though it has no direct interest in the conflict.

An anticipated highlight of Zhu's visit was the announcement of agreement on terms for China's entry into the World Trade Organization. But negotiations last week failed to close the gap between Washington and Beijing, and it appeared that a deal would not be reached during Zhu's visit. Nor should it, unless China agrees to institute market-opening reforms that are a prerequisite for membership. Meanwhile China enjoys a huge advantage in trade with the U.S.

There are fears that Zhu's trip will be a disaster. It will be if the administration tries to gloss over these issues in order to maintain cordial relations with Beijing at all costs.

It will not be a disaster if the administration makes the United States' displeasure with Chinese actions and policies clear.

This country must remain "engaged," to use the currently fashionable term, with China. But it cannot be friendly with China unless the regime mends its ways. Having been burned before, Clinton ought to realize the need to stand up for America's legitimate interests.


Libyan bombing
suspects’ surrender

Bullet The issue: The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Bullet Our view: The surrender of the two suspects by Libya is a victory in the war against terrorism.

THE surrender by Libya of two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan American airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, is a small but significant victory in the war against terrorism. The handover was the result of the imposition of sanctions by the United Nations and intense lobbying by South African President Nelson Mandela, Saudi Arabian officials and the U.N.

Under terms of the compromise that resulted in the suspects' surrender by the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, the suspects, both alleged former intelligence agents, will be tried in the Netherlands by a Scottish court. Libya had claimed that the suspects could not get a fair trial in the United States or Britain -- as if Gadhafi knew anything about fair trials.

Many had doubted that anyone would ever be tried for the bombing, which killed 259 people in the air and 11 people on the ground. For years all efforts to bring the suspects to justice were stymied by Libya.

The trial will make international legal history. It will be the first time a Scottish court has convened in another country and tried a major crime without a jury. Under a treaty with the Dutch, part of Camp Zeist, a former U.S. air base in the Netherlands, will be considered Scottish soil for the duration of the trial.

The case marks the first time the Security Council has imposed sanctions on a sovereign state to force it to surrender two of its citizens for trial abroad.

Some relatives of those killed in the bombing expressed concern that the trial of the two Libyans would fail to point to the person they believe is responsible for the crash -- Gadhafi himself. That is an understandable concern. It can be assumed that the suspects will refuse to implicate Gadhafi.

If the accused actually bombed Pan Am Flight 103, their surrender is a concession won by the sanctions, which makes it a victory. The Libyan dictator was in all probability behind the bombing, but he could hardly be expected to surrender himself.

If the Libyans are convicted, a historic precedent will have been set for the prosecution of terrorists.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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