TIME: What Did China Want? (3/24/97)
Gore's Gridiron Success (3/17/97)
Gore, Gingrich Headed To China
Their visits occur against the backdrop of campaign finance investigations
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 21) -- In back-to-back visits, Vice President Al Gore and House Speaker Newt Gingrich will go to China next week, even as U.S.-Sino relations have been strained by campaign finance accusations leveled against the Chinese.
Gore leaves Saturday for an eight-day Asian tour that includes a China visit. The tour's official goal is to improve U.S.-Chinese relations, but with the Clinton Administration still smarting over allegations the Chinese government may have tried to funnel money to U.S. political candidates, the campaign finance issue may come up.
A Gore aide noted the Chinese have denied the accusations, but the vice president wants to discuss any and all issues that might affect relations between the two nations. "It doesn't have to be accusatorial, but it needs to be raised," the Gore aide said.
Gingrich, who leaves Sunday on his own Asian tour, said he wouldn't be surprised if the fund-raising issue came up during his visit.
"It's certainly something worth discussing," Gingrich said today. "I certainly am opposed to any foreign government -- let me repeat, any foreign government -- being involved in any systematic effort to corrupt or undermine our system.
"Whether or not Americans engaged in American campaigns took illegal contributions under American law is an American issue to be decided by our system and we should police ourselves, but I don't think we should have large shifts in our relations overseas, based on whatever this month's story of the week is, or month is."
For Gore, another issue is whether to help complete a deal, while he is in China, for the Chinese government to purchase jet aircraft from Boeing. Normally, it would be routine, but with the fund-raising flap, administration officials are sensitive about Gore appearing to grant favors to the Chinese.
The New York Times reported earlier this week that the Chinese had suggested Gore could preside over the signing of the billion-dollar aircraft deal. But it's not clear if there is a deal or whether Gore will attend the signing.
Despite the campaign finance flap, U.S.-Chinese relations are actually better than they were a year ago. Then, China was protesting the presence of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Taiwan Strait, after China launched ballistic missiles into the waters off Taiwan.
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