Colin Powell's opportunity

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2001

The following editorial appeared in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The release of two "spy scholars" by Chinese authorities on the eve of Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to China was a welcome gesture that could help make that visit less tense and more productive.

But while Gao Zhan and Qin Guanggang - U.S. residents convicted of trumped-up spying charges - will be fresh in Powell's mind during his visit, he must not forget the names of Wu Jianming, Liu Yaping and Teng Chunyan. Wu is a U.S. citizen being held by Chinese authorities on charges of spying for Taiwan. Liu, a permanent U.S. resident, is being detained over a business dispute and Teng, another U.S. resident, is in a labor camp for her participation in the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Nor should Powell forget that China has executed more than 2,000 criminals this year and has not let up in its crackdown on political dissidents and religious movements. Releasing Gao and Qin is a nice step, but it does not necessarily signal a change in attitude toward human rights abuses.

The release, however, might give Powell an opportunity to encourage Chinese leaders to resolve the other cases involving U.S. scholars and perhaps even to re-evaluate their approach toward human rights. China must understand that the world community cares about people such as Wu, Liu and Teng. And that it prefers happy endings.

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