- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2000

With its corporate lure and nuclear capability, China has some global weight to throw around. As a result, certain world leaders and global organizations have done much to appease Beijing. In doing so, they help perpetuate some of China's most reprehensible domestic policies.

From Aug. 28 to Aug. 31, the United Nations will hold the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. More than 1,000 religious leaders will attend the event, but one of the world's most revered figures, and the winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, will be conspicuously missing. In deference to Beijing, the organizers of the event have decided not to invite Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Unsurprisingly, much of the onus falls on Ted Turner, the meeting's main financial backer.

The United Nations is also to blame. Hosting a millennium summit in the name of peace when the event's organizers allow a brutal regime and routine violator of human rights to dictate who may attend the summit is a shameful farce. Any party associated with the event, including the attendees, will be tainted by this exclusion. In his typical gracious style, the Dalai Lama has said the summit should go on without him, but those invited must question if they should attend if the Tibetan leader is left out.

But the Dalai Lama isn't the only national leader that Beijing is trying to bring to heel. On Aug. 13, Taiwan's recently elected president, Chen Shui-bian, will make a pit stop in Los Angeles before beginning a tour of three countries in Latin America and Africa with which the region has diplomatic relations; these are the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and the West African nation of Burkina Faso.

Beijing thinks Mr. Chen should be banned from entering other countries because he has failed to state he believes Taiwan is legitimately part of China. Although the Clinton administration is allowing Mr. Chen to stay overnight, it has stressed he will quickly be on his way. "President Chen will make a brief transit stop in the United States for the purpose of traveling to the Caribbean area," a State Department official said.

The White House and Taiwan have also said that Mr. Chen will wear a "media muzzle" the whole time he is visiting the United States. Asked whether Mr. Chen will be restricted from holding meetings or giving press interviews, Eric Chiang, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington said, "There is an understanding between our two countries that the U.S. side only provides for the convenience of the traveler," adding that Mr. Chen "will not have any public activities during his stay." Apparently, the administration sees nothing unusual in supporting Beijing's policy towards Taiwan by requiring Mr. Chen to stay away from the media while in the United States.

The White House and organizations like the United Nations have gone too far in appeasing Beijing. Understandably, the administration and the international community want to engage China, and corporations are keen to do business there. But China also needs to be challenged and the United States and United Nations should remember what they stand for, and avoid supporting Beijing's repressive and abusive tactics.

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