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Voice of America, 00-03-20

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>




    /// EDS: CAN ACCOMPANY CR 2-260388, "U-S / HUMAN RIGHTS / CHINA" ///

    INTRO: The European Union has joined the United States in criticizing China's human-rights record, but reserved judgment on whether it will support an American resolution on China at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels.

    TEXT: European Union foreign ministers have agreed on strong language saying the Union is deeply concerned by China's continuing and widespread restrictions on fundamental freedoms. The statement mentions China's restrictions on freedom of assembly, expression and association. The European Union says it is dismayed by harsh sentences the Chinese government has imposed on pro- democracy activists, and the severe measures it has taken against minority groups in Tibet and Xinjiang. The statement also expresses concern about arrests and harsh sentences for members of the Falun Gong movement in China, and restrictions on members of Christian churches. Despite the strong words in Monday's statement, the European ministers say they will work for a negotiated approach to the China question at the U-N Human Rights Commission. Portuguese foreign minister Jaime Gama (speaking through an interpreter) says the European Union does not have its own resolution to present (to the U-N commission):


    We did not adopt a resolution today nor did we adopt a draft resolution. What we did adopt was a position and the procedure will take its course in the commission on human rights in Geneva.

    /// END ACT ///

    The United States is trying to get the U-N Human Rights Commission (which is in session in Geneva until April 28th,) to pass a resolution criticizing China's record on human rights. U-S Secretary of State will address the commission on the issue this week. The statement passed in Brussels Monday says the European Union will try in Geneva to get a more focussed and result-oriented dialogue on human rights with the Chinese government. The European Commissioner for external affairs, Chris Patten:

    /// PATTEN ACT ///

    We have a human-rights dialogue with China. It hasn't frankly made as much progress as we would have liked. We hope that it makes more progress.

    /// END ACT ///

    However, there is little hope of progress for the European dialogue on human-rights dialogue if the European Union supports the American resolution in Geneva. At their meeting the ministers did not discuss China's recent threats against Taiwan. However, Minister Gama, speaking for the rotating presidency of the European Union, says the E-U appreciates Taiwan's democracy, and hopes China and Taiwan will resolve their differences peacefully. (Signed)
    NEB/RDP/WTW 20-Mar-2000 17:08 PM EDT (20-Mar-2000 2208 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were mixed today (Monday), as last week's sell-off in technology continued. Trading overall was subdued, in advance of a Federal Reserve Board meeting Tuesday. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added to last week's impressive gains. It closed up 85 points, less than one percent, at 10-thousand-680. The Standard and Poor's 500 index lost seven points. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite fell hard, dropping almost four percent. A reversal of fortune for U-S software company MicroStrategy put pressure on the Internet sector. MicroStrategy shares shed more than one-half their value, after the company revised downward its financial results for the last two years - slashing a 1999 profit to a loss. But otherwise, analysts said the market basically went into a holding pattern. Volume was light to moderate, as investors decided to wait for the U-S central bank to announce its interest rate policy.

    ///REST OPT///

    Experts unanimously expect the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates 25 basis points. The financial markets are not likely to react negatively to that. But analyst Bill Sullivan says it could go badly if Federal Reserve policy-makers signal more aggressive action is coming:

    /// SULLIVAN ACT ///

    If there's a more militant posture, if there's some anxiety expressed about the outlook for inflation, that suggests at some point in the future the committee would consider more aggressive restraint, then that's where you may get a negative response, particularly in the bond markets.

    /// END ACT ///

    In other news, Toys-R-Us - the world's largest specialty toy retailer - says it will spin off its Japanese operation later this year and buy back one- billion dollars in stock. These moves are aimed at boosting the price of its shares, which have been trading near 10-year lows. Lehman Brothers, one of Wall Street's premier investment banks, reports first-quarter profits more than doubled to a record. Lehman attributes its earnings boost to its growing role in mergers and acquisitions. Analysts say Lehman's good fortunes bode well for those of its bigger rivals - Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter - which also report their earnings this week. The global merger boom has been very good business for Wall Street firms. And, a 40-day strike is over at Boeing, the world's leading airplane maker. Thousands of engineers and technical workers have returned to their jobs, after agreeing to a new three-year contract. (signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/JO 20-Mar-2000 16:31 PM EDT (20-Mar-2000 2131 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The end of a political era in Taiwan, new U-S overtures to Iran, and moves toward peace in Colombia are some of the topics covered in the U-S editorial pages this Monday. Here with a closer look and some excerpts is ________ with today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Taiwan voters on Saturday ended five decades of Nationalist Party rule and elected an opposition candidate, Chen Shui-ban, as their next president. The New York Times says the while Taiwan has taken an important new step in its democratic evolution, the election of Mr. Chen may also have inaugurated a period of dangerous uncertainty in its relations with mainland China. The paper writes:

    VOICE: Beijing's recent military threats toward Taiwan were aimed primarily at defeating Mr. Chen, who first entered politics as an advocate of Taiwanese independence. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Chen wisely toned down his pro- independence views. He should now move quickly to affirm that he does not seek any change in Taiwan's existing political status. Beijing should respond by ending its military threats and opening a dialogue with Mr. Chen after he takes office in May.... [Leaders] in both Taipei and Beijing will need to behave responsibly in the weeks ahead. Washington, which risks getting drawn into any new conflict, needs to play a calming role.

    TEXT: The Wall Street Journal says the big question for Mr. Chen is how he will balance the twin desires of the Taiwanese people to improve relations with China and also to preserve the island's claim to sovereignty. The Wall Street Journal writes:

    VOICE: It will require some linguistic creativity to come up with a formula that is acceptable to both China and [Mr. Chen's] his constituents.... The United States can play a role ... by not treating Taiwan as an embarrassing troublemaker and instead engaging Mr. Chen as an equal partner. History demonstrates that when the United States has given Taiwan strong support, as when we sold the island F-16 fighters, China has engaged in cross-strait talks. When the United States has appeared weak, as when Mr. Clinton endorsed China's anti-independence policy, the mainland has been emboldened to bully Taiwan.

    TEXT: At the end of last week, U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave a speech that acknowledged past U-S interference in Iranian internal affairs and offered, among other measures, to expand people-to- people contacts. The Washington Post says the Clinton Administration has made several overtures to Iran's new government and that the time has come for Iran to respond:

    VOICE: The administration has proffered yet another unilateral American gesture; now it's time for Iran to reciprocate. [President Mohammed] Khatemi's reformist intent is clear on the domestic front, but he has yet to show that he can and will take charge of foreign policy - that he, too, is willing to take some risks for the sake of a better bilateral relationship.

    TEXT: Last month, the commanders of Colombia's largest guerrilla army and the top leaders of the government they are trying to topple embarked on a month-long visit to European capitals. The trip took place at the urging of a Norwegian diplomat, Jan Egeland, who is the special advisor on Colombia to U-N Secretary General Kof Annan. The Miami Herald writes that Mr. Egeland's innovative diplomatic methods seeming to be achieving results:

    VOICE: Mr. Egeland organized the 25-day tour of several European capitals where the leftist guerrilla leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, and Colombian legislators learned about welfare states, capitalism and taxes. Along the way nascent trust began to supplant decades of hostility.... The rebels who before wanted no interference from third parties in the peace process now seek international facilitation. Negotiators have set an April date for the first public hearings on the country's economic system. Plans are also set for talks on specific issues, from human rights to security.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: Finally, the Christian Science Monitor has this comment on a new rule by the National Basketball Association that requires coaches to wear microphones so that people watching NBA games on television can hear - after editing -- what the coach is telling his players. The Monitor writes:

    VOICE: Has Big Brother come to basketball? No, it's more like big marketing - or frantic marketing. The NBA, it seems, has been losing TV viewers. Maybe, the thinking goes, some would stop switching to wrestling or car racing if they could listen in on what coaches are saying during tense moments. That's doubtful.... Besides that, why not leave a certain element of mystery in sports? It's better to imagine what a lathered-up coach might be telling the player who made a bad turn- over.... That's part of the fun of it. And fun is what sports have to be about.

    TEXT: On that note we conclude this sampling of Monday's U-S press.
    NEB/KL/JO 20-Mar-2000 12:53 PM EDT (20-Mar-2000 1753 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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