Editor’s Scratchpad

By Richard Halloran

Monday, April 2, 2001

Chinese leaders
just don’t get it

The leaders of China seem to think they can arrest American citizens or resident aliens and not be called to account for it.

The latest to come light is the detention of Li Shaomin, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chinese ancestry and scholar who teaches in Hong Kong. He was detained as he entered China. Still under detention is Gao Zhan, a resident alien about to become a U.S. citizen and a scholar at American University in Washington, D.C.

When the American government protests, the Chinese respond: This is none of your business or why should you care?

After the U.S. remonstrated with the Chinese for arresting Gao, a spokesman for the foreign ministry brushed it off, "The U.S. protest is without foundation and China has refused to accept it."

In another instance, President Jiang Zemin was puzzled in an interview with the Washington Post recently, "You (Americans) have a lot of things to occupy yourselves with. Why do you frequently take special interest in cases such as this?"

What the Chinese appear incapable of understanding is that those arrests and that attitude will have consequences -- as in the Bush administration's decision later this month about selling more arms to China's rivals in Taiwan and in the decision in July about supporting Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympic games.

Richard Halloran

Richard Halloran is Editorial section editor.
He can be reached by e-mail at

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