- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Hong Kong's still-independent press is having a field day with an unusual PDA (public display of aggressiveness) by the new master of the former British colony: China's President Jiang Zemin.

Evidently, Mr. Jiang was upset at the impertinence of a journalist who asked whether Beijing's endorsement of a second term for the highly unpopular shipping magnate it had installed to run Hong Kong amounted to "an imperial order."

According to yesterday's edition of The Washington Post, the communist emperor furious that someone had accurately described the nature of his clothes "flew into a rage. 'You media need to raise your general knowledge level, got it? You should not say we have an imperial order and then criticize me. Got it? Naive. I am so angry.' "

Tung Chee-wha, the chief executive of Hong Kong in question, subsequently demonstrated his subordination to China by telling the press: "President Jiang actually loves you all very much. He merely gave you a kind of encouragement." Like their journalists, the people of Hong Kong are under no illusion: The kind of "encouragement" Beijing's emperor has in mind would give "tough love" a whole new meaning.

Americans journalists, politicians and the public alike should take to heart Mr. Jiang's call for "raising [the] general knowledge level" about his government and what it is doing. Yet there is strong resistance to any such educational effort, as was evidenced by the reaction from both the two presidential campaigns and the Fourth Estate to the one, fleeting focus on China in the entire 2000 campaign.

Last week, a mysterious group had the temerity to run a television ad suggesting viewers vote Republican because Al Gore had received illegal campaign contributions from Communist China and the PRC had, under the Clinton-Gore administration, secured access to sensitive military secrets that have greatly increased the Chinese threat to the United States. It concluded by reprising one of the most effective political spots in the history of television advertising the "Daisy" ad employed against Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential bid that showed a little girl whose enumeration of flower petals morphs into a countdown to a nuclear detonation.

The Gore campaign denounced it; the Bush campaign asked that it be pulled; and the press gave it huge quantities of free air time in the course of expressing its shock, shock that someone would run such a spot often sneeringly declaring that the ad's allegations had never been proven.

This episode is a terrible indictment of the "general level of knowledge" about China. The American people are entitled to be reminded that Al Gore did indeed raise money from illegal Chinese sources, as did his mentor, Bill Clinton. To be sure, he maintains he did not know he was doing so. Yet, e-mails from his office, conveniently unavailable until very lately, suggest he did.

Neither is there any doubt that Communist China secured highly secret information about U.S. weapon systems and militarily relevant technology during the Clinton-Gore years. An indication of just how much has become evident now that the U.S. intelligence community has finally gotten through the laborious process of translating 13,000 pages of information about Chinese nuclear and missile programs provided unsolicited in 1995 by a so-called "walk-in" an individual whom it had dismissed, until very recently, as a Chinese double-agent.

Information in the public domain makes clear some of what China received was transferred with the explicit permission of President Clinton (for example, supercomputers that wound up in the PRC's nuclear and military-industrial complex). Other equipment and know-how either were stolen or diverted. How much the administration knew about the latter may never be fully known. There can be no doubt, however, that the cumulative effect of this hemorrhage of high technology was very detrimental to American security interests.

After the revelation of the secret agreement Vice President Gore signed in 1995 with then-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to conceal from Congress information about Kremlin weapons deals with Iran that, under U.S. law, would otherwise have triggered sanctions, the question must be asked: Was there a similar agreement between the Clinton White House and Beijing to withhold from the legislative branch documentation about technology transfers to China that would have adversely affected bilateral relations?

The "general knowledge level" about China could also be usefully raised with respect to two other items:

(1) On Oct. 10, one of the most influential members of the U.S. Senate on national security matters, Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, placed in the record 14 pages of quotes which he described as "but a small sample of the bellicose statements that China's government has made recently." On that occasion, he remarked:

"Time and time again, Chinese officials and state-sponsored media have made bellicose and threatening statements aimed at the United States and our longstanding, democratic ally, Taiwan. They have even gone so far as to issue implied threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States. The question is, will we take them at their word on these defense matters as we did when they made trade commitments?"

(2) Even as China is making such threats, it is displaying the vulnerability of its economy by mounting a renewed effort to secure billions of dollars in largely undisciplined, non-transparent stock and sovereign bond offerings on the U.S. capital markets. As has been observed by former National Security Council official Roger Robinson, who now chairs the Center for Security Policy's William J. Casey Institute, there is reason to believe Beijing is coming to Wall Street to fund technology theft, espionage, proliferation and repression of human rights and religious freedom at home and in places like Sudan and Tibet. Since the Securities and Exchange Commission has declined to date to insist on full disclosure of the uses to which such proceeds are being put, American institutional and other investors may actually unwittingly wind up subsidizing these activities.

It has been reported that Communist China prefers that Al Gore rather than George W. Bush be the next American president. It would help raise the standards of the American people's understanding of what China is about if, in the final week of the campaign, the Texas governor would help explain why.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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