Gavel To Gavel

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Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings
E-mail From Washington

From: Andrea Koppel, CNN
In: Beijing, China
Posted: 7-9-97

Subject: Fund-Raising Hearings Not High On China's Radar

They are "feeling the heat" here in China's capital -- literally.

With daytime temperatures nipping at triple digits, it is uncomfortably hot. Shade and sovereignty are on the minds of most of Beijing's residents -- and a week after the return of Hong Kong, that event's warm afterglow remains.

And so one day after the start of U.S. Senate hearings on campaign fund-raising abuses, ones which have again turned up the political heat in Washington, here in Beijing the only source of noticeable heat is ... the sun. Local papers carried no news of the Senate investigation and there was no official reaction from the halls of power.

Allegations that Chinese officials tried to buy influence among American politicians have been circulating in the United States for months. Two months ago, in an interview with CNN, China's president flatly denied the charges.

On Wednesday, even though the president and other government officials had no immediate reaction, Tao Wenzhao, a scholar at a government think tank responsible for policy research on U.S.-China relations, offered insight.

"If there is no hard evidence, then it can mean nothing," said Wenzhao. "And I do not think it will hurt Sino-American relations very much, although it will certainly have some influence on the further development on Sino-American relations."

Still, much as the Chinese government may genuinely wish to develop and maintain good relations with the U.S., at the moment China's leaders are otherwise distracted by domestic matters, like Hong Kong and a major Communist Party meeting this fall.

And so when reaction to the fund-raising hearings does come, it's likely to be more of the same: denial. China will be trying its best to ignore what's going on in Washington.

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