- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday called China's 26-day detention of a 5-year-old American boy "outrageous," a sentiment that was echoed by President Bush who said the detention occurred "without any notification."
The boy and his father, who was detained separately, were released after 26 days, but the child's mother, a U.S.-based scholar, is still in custody.
"We think it is particularly outrageous that the young boy, son, was held away from his parents, away from family members, for an extended period of time and we were not notified in the timely manner that is required and expected," Mr. Powell said.
"We are expressing our displeasure about all of this to the Chinese government and expecting additional answers."
At a later White House meeting with visiting Chinese Vice Prime Minister Qian Qichen, Mr. Bush told reporters: "I would echo the sentiments that the secretary of state said today about the fact that a U.S. citizen was detained without our without any notification. I look forward to discussing this with our honorable guest and will do so."
Mr. Bush then held a closed meeting with Mr. Qian and "forcefully raised" the issue of the detention, a senior administration official said later.
It was the administration's hardest line yet against China's human rights abuses. The president also addressed a range of other sensitive aspects of U.S.-Sino relations, including the sale to Taiwan of U.S.-built warships equipped with the advanced Aegis missile-defense system.
But the topic that triggered the most tension was the continued detainment of American University researcher Gao Zhan, who was arrested by Chinese security officers Feb. 11 at Beijing's airport at the conclusion of a three-week vacation. She and her husband, Xue Donghua, and son, Andrew, were hustled away in three separate cars.
"It happened in a couple of seconds, a group of people, like 15, approached us and separated us and put us in different cars and drove us to different places," Mr. Xue told reporters yesterday. "They blindfolded me and drove two hours to an unknown place and then they started questioning me about my wife's research."
Mrs. Gao, who was born in China and works in Washington, conducts unpaid research on Chinese-Taiwanese relations. Beijing regards Taiwan, formally called the Republic of China, as a breakaway province, and the United States is bound by treaty to protect Taiwan from attack by the Beijing regime.
"My wife has been detained simply because of her academic research," Mr. Xue said in a statement sent to Mr. Bush and released yesterday. "I was detained for no reason.
"My little son, an American citizen, was detained for a reason nobody can understand, except for the group of inhuman Chinese security agents."
Mr. Bush seemed particularly rankled that Chinese authorities failed to notify the U.S. Embassy of the child's detention, as required by treaty.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said the government wasn't required to tell the U.S. Embassy of the case because Andrew was never formally detained, but rather "cared for in a kindergarten."
Mr. Sun said Mrs. Gao is suspected of "activities that undermine state security. She admits to her criminal acts." He did not say what those acts were.
At the White House, the senior administration official said Mr. Qian told Mr. Bush: "She may not have been aware that she violated our law. We will check it and get back to you."
While he was detained, Mr. Xue was grilled about his wife's academic writings and her visits to Taiwan in 1995 and 1999 with a study group. He said the agents told him he would not see his son unless he told them "stories opposing my wife."
"In fact, they were using my son as a hostage to push me to say something against my wife." He said he was confident his wife is innocent of offense.
The boy is a U.S. citizen and his parents are permanent U.S. residents, awaiting their swearing-in as American citizens. Yesterday, Mr. Xue said his son has been "traumatized" by the ordeal.
"When I first saw my son, we were holding together, crying for about 10 minutes," he said.
"He used to be a very open boy," he added, "but now he won't leave me for ten minutes."
In addition to raising concerns about human rights, Mr. Bush also reaffirmed his commitment to defending Taiwan, perhaps selling Taiwan the advanced U.S. destroyers.
"We have obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act and we'll honor those obligations," the president said. "No decision has been made yet as to the sale of weapons to Taiwan."
Such a sale has been the most pressing concern of Mr. Qian as during his meetings with top administration officials this week. But during yesterday's photo opportunity with Mr. Bush, the Chinese official emphasized positive aspects of U.S.-Sino relations.
"Where we have shared interests, we can advance our relationship forward," he said. "Where we disagree, we can have very good exchange of views.
"Some issues can be approached in the spirit of seeking common ground, while shelving the differences," he added. "I'm sure ways can be found to solve all the problems."
Mr. Bush reciprocated, calling China "a great country" with "vast potential."
"There will be some areas where we have some disagreements," he added. "I will be firm, and I suspect he will be firm, in our opinions."
During the closed session, according to the senior administration officials, Mr. Bush told the Chinese leader: "I'm going to look you in the eye and tell you we can have good relations with China. Nothing we do is a threat to you, and I want you to tell that to your leadership."
Mr. Bush also formally accepted an invitation to visit China in October, although the details have not yet been settled.
Ben Barber contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.


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