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Jiang just wants to eat barbecue
Paul Lin

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Chinese President Jiang Zemin is scheduled to visit the US on Oct. 25. It is a sensitive date because on Oct. 25, 1950, China announced that the Chinese People's Volunteers would dispatch troops to "resist US aggression and aid Korea." But the question is, how does Jiang feel about the US now?

On Aug. 30, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the CCP's International Liaison Department held a meeting with the heads of major Chinese media institutions, demanding that reports about Sino-US relations highlight the positive aspects of the relationship and that they be careful about the wording on sensitive problems.

It's worth noting that the International Liaison Department is mainly responsible for liaison work with communist parties in other countries. Some of it is overt while the rest is covert espionage. The US Republican and Democratic parties are by no means China's "fraternal parties." The US Communist Party has long been dissolved. Since the International Liaison Department comes out to interfere in Sino-US relations, does that mean China still has underground allies in the US?

Beijing's request to "highlight the positive aspects" of the relationship means that the media normally makes opposing the US its main theme. Now, in line with the upcoming visit, the media must portray China as being on friendly terms with the US. This maneuver has two purposes.

First, to eat barbecue at US President George W. Bush's Texas ranch has long been Jiang's dream. Such treatment has only been granted to heads of state from a number of the US' allied countries. Jiang has strived hard for such treatment. Although the US has given a nod to Jiang's request, Jiang is afraid that changes may occur before the visit. He has reminded the media to be circumspect, lest they destroy his dream.

Second, Chinese officials have said that "the Taiwan issue" will be the main topic of discussion when Jiang meets Bush. In the past, China would announce that the "Taiwan issue" would be the major issue of discussion, but the US always gave a lukewarm response.

This time, Jiang certainly has to work hard and, especially, use President Chen Shui-bian's "one country on each side" of the Taiwan Strait statement to sow discord in Taiwan-US relations.

China will stop at nothing to attain its goal. In addition to creating an artificially-friendly atmosphere, China is also maneuvering in other areas. For instance, before US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visited Beijing in August, China had promulgated the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Export Control of Missiles and Missile-related Items and Technologies to control the proliferation of missile technology, which is frequently criticized by the US.

But in fact, in China's traditional rule of man (as opposed to the rule of law), the leader can make oral decisions on exports. China is putting on a show simply to curry favor with the US.

The trick appears to be effective. Armitage announced that the US has listed Xinjiang independence activists as a terrorist organization.

The US should not be so quick to believe Chinese fabrications of terrorist activities because China is known for fabricating criminal cases. If these independence activists were likely to assault the US embassy as China claimed, why wouldn't they target the Chinese embassy instead of the US embassy and put themselves in a difficult situation? China certainly could fabricate any confession from "criminals" in its hands.

US strategy must tally with its main objective of attacking Iraq, but I believe the US will not underestimate the close relations between China and rogue states. To catch bandits, first catch the ring leader as the Chinese saying goes. If the US intends to attack Iraq, perhaps the best timing would be when Jiang is eating barbecue and cannot speak.

*Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

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