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Republicans hammer Gore over U.S. policy toward China

By Wolf Blitzer/CNN

March 10, 1999
Web posted at: 6:21 p.m. EST (2321 GMT)

WASHINGTON (March 10) -- Republicans are hammering the Clinton Administration, including Vice President Al Gore, over China.

They smell political blood, especially Gore's. The issue is the Clinton Administration's policy of working with China despite allegations of human rights abuses, unfair trade practices, illegal missile transfers and now, nuclear espionage.

US/China

Gore is seen as especially vulnerable, in part because he has been out front for several years, defending the policy of so-called "constructive engagement" with China.

"We can show that when our nations walk side by side in common cause, we can make real progress in improving the well-being of our citizens and our planet," Gore said last fall.

But beyond Gore, Republican presidential hopeful Lamar Alexander is calling for National Security Adviser Samuel Berger's resignation, accusing him of ignoring initial allegations of Chinese espionage at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"It is ironic that Mr. Berger learned of this espionage in exactly the same month that Mr. Gore was attending his now famous fund-raiser with Buddhist nuns in Southern California," Alexander said.

The White House denies any connection and it notes the alleged espionage occurred in the 1980's, during Republican administrations.

But when it comes to China, other Republican candidates are piling on, including Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, John McCain and Dan Quayle.

"Even though I'm skeptical that this kind of issue is going to pull the rug out from Al Gore, I think it's a plus for the Republicans to be able to talk about foreign policy, to talk about national security and to talk about the failure of the administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in this one area," said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.

What goes around comes around. During the 1992 election campaign, then-candidate Clinton similarly lashed out at President George Bush.

"The administration continues to coddle China despite its continuing crackdown on democratic reforms," Clinton said in December 1991.

But Gore and other administration officials insist it would be reckless for the United States to walk away from the biggest country in the world, given the economic, military and political stakes involved. That, of course, was the same argument President Bush made.


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Wednesday, March 10, 1999

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