- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2001

Reacting to sharp U.S. criticism, China yesterday made public the full text of a previously censored interview with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, given to Chinese television during his visit to Beijing last week.
The Chinese newspaper People's Daily posted the interview on its Web site after Washington raised the issue repeatedly with the Chinese government. Mr. Powell's comments on Taiwan and human rights had been cut when the interview was first broadcast on Sunday on the state-owned CCTV.
"We pushed very hard both in our public and private statements," a senior State Department official said. "We complained not only about the specifics, but made the case that it was a broader violation of their commitment. We didn't hear much from the Chinese" until it appeared on the People's Daily site.
Although only a limited number of people have access to the Internet in China, the official said the posting of the text has a much broader significance.
"It starts to get around people start to print it off and pass it around. But more than that, it gives it a blessing that it's acceptable for publication elsewhere. It will start popping in other locations," the official said.
Mr. Powell learned of the editing of the interview after he boarded his plane from Australia to return to Washington. The secretary of state was on a nine-day whirlwind Asia-Pacific tour, which also included Japan, Vietnam and South Korea.
He immediately gave instructions to his aides both on the plane and at the State Department to contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington, as well as the government in Beijing, the senior official said.
Although the United States strongly protested the decision to edit Mr. Powell's remarks, it made clear earlier this week that the incident would not affect relations with Beijing. The Chinese side denied it had made any commitments on how to air the interview.
"We had a clear and explicit agreement with them, as we sometimes do with you and your colleagues here, to air something in its entirety, without edits," Charles Hunter, a State Department spokesman, said on Monday. "They chose to renege on that agreement, and we think that was a counterproductive choice.
"We know that the Chinese authorities' views on Taiwan and human rights differ from ours, but we believe the Chinese people are mature and sophisticated enough to hear both their own government's views and those of others who may disagree," Mr. Hunter said.
In the deleted segments, Mr. Powell had pressed Beijing to respect human rights, freedom of religion and the rule of law, and repeated U.S. policy toward Taiwan.
Meanwhile, U.S. scholar Li Shaomin, who was convicted by China on spying charges, will be allowed to continue teaching, according to officials at Hong Kong's City University.
The unanimous decision, announced in Hong Kong, was applauded by fellow academics, who had urged the school to show its respect for intellectual freedom by allowing Mr. Li to keep his job as a professor of marketing.
Mr. Li seemed delighted, saying the decision was "a good one."
University officials also agreed that he would not face a disciplinary hearing.
"This shows that Beijing obviously sees the advantage of showing the whole world that Hong Kong should be treated separately," said lawmaker Martin Lee, who, as head of the Democratic Party, is Hong Kong's main opposition spokesman.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide