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China Reform Monitor - No. 731

U.S. to China: Back off Pak nuclear deal;
Beijing prepares massive investment in health care

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
December 31, 2008

November 22:

The U.S. has asked China to halt its plans to construct two more nuclear reactors in Pakistan and indicated that any new nuclear Sino-Pakistan cooperation would require “consensus” approval from the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG),
the Press Trust of India reports. In a letter to Edward J. Markey, a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, State Department Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Matthew Reynolds said Washington has already communicated its “position clearly” to Islamabad and Beijing. “The U.S. position is that cooperation on the construction of two new reactors, Chasma III and IV, would be inconsistent with the commitments China made at the time of its adherence to Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines in 2004,” Reynolds wrote. “Although Pakistan’s energy needs are real and increasing, we believe Pakistan’s proliferation record would make NSG consensus difficult were China to request an exception,” the letter said.

November 23:

In a new 15-page United Nations report, the Geneva-based Committee against Torture delivered its strongest criticism yet of past and present incidents of torture in China. The committee urged Beijing to apologize to the victims of its crackdown on student-led protests in Tiananmen Square 19 years ago and carry out a "full and impartial" investigation into what happened.
The Taiwan-based China Post reports that the Committee called on Beijing to "provide information on persons who are still detained from that period, inform the family members of their findings, offer apologies and reparation as appropriate and prosecute those found responsible for excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment.” Last year, the U.S. State Department said that between 10 and 200 Tiananmen activists were estimated to still be in prison.

November 24:

Beijing will invest 4.8 billion RMB ($702.78 million) to improve the country's rural medical institutions, the Ministry of Health has announced. Approximately 2.62 billion RMB ($383.60 million) will go to more than 7,300 rural medical institutions in underdeveloped regions. The remaining 2.18 billion RMB ($319.18 million) will be used to upgrade nearly 30,000 grassroots medical institutions in state-owned farms across China as well as township and village clinics in the more developed eastern China region. "The large government investment into rural clinics will be good news for various medical device manufacturers, in particular, big players such as Wandong Medical Equipment Co. Ltd. and Shandong Xinhua Medical Instrument Co. Ltd.," Ma Feifei, a pharmaceutical analyst from Bohai Securities,
told Russia’s Interfax News Agency.

[Editor’s Note: This move is part of Beijing’s plan, first unveiled in 2006, to set up a three-tier rural health care system across the county, township and village levels by 2010. The total investment in the rural health care system is estimated at 21.68 billion RMB ($3.17 billion.)]

November 28:

Despite pleas for clemency from the Bush administration and European officials, a biomedical researcher convicted of espionage by a Chinese court has been executed by a gunshot to the head. A scientist and owner of medical supply company, Wo Weihan, 59, was convicted last May of passing military documents and classified information about an unidentified Chinese leader to Taiwan. Mr. Wo’s family said he initially confessed to the crimes but later recanted, saying the confession had been coerced. The evidence against him was deemed a state secret, and his lawyer was not allowed to discuss it with his family. “We are deeply disturbed and concerned that Wo Weihan was executed today,” said Susan Stevenson, a spokeswoman for the embassy. The American Embassy protested the trial claiming it was carried out in total secrecy and that the accusations, if true, did not constitute a capital crime. “We were not allowed to say good-bye,” said Mr. Wo’s daughter Chen Ran
in comments carried by the New York Times.

November 29:

While meeting his Burmese counterpart, General Shwe Mann, Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), said the two countries should enhance military and state-to-state exchanges and continue to “help each other to fight external aggression,”
the official Xinhua News Agency reports.