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Bush veto could threaten Chinese students

While world attention is focused on the events in Eastern Europe, memories of what happened last June in Beijing's Tiananmen Square are still vivid in the minds of many. Having brutally suppressed the democracy movement, the Chinese government is persecuting many dissidents at home and harassing and intimidating Chinese nationals studying abroad. About 70 percent of the 40,000 Chinese students in the United States are required to return to China for two years before their visa status can be adjusted. This makes them vulnerable to persecutions by the Chinese government upon their return since many of them have participated in pro-democracy demonstrations in the United States. Although President Bush has offered Extended Deferred Departure to Chinese nationals, the fact is that few have entered the EDD program since they will have to leave next June and it is unlikely that the persecutions will cease by then.

Under these circumstances, US Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) initiated the "Emergency Chinese Immigration Relief Act of 1989" (HR-2712) which would waive the two-year home residence requirement for four years. Just before the Thanksgiving recess, this bill passed the House by a vote of 403 to 0 and the Senate unanimously on a voice vote. However, the Bush Administration has indicated that he might veto this bill because of concerns that the Chinese government would suspend all educational exchange programs and that the bill would hamper Sino-American relations.

Since June, the Chinese government has already tightened control over the choice of students to send abroad. Those who were involved in the demonstrations earlier this year are prohibited from leaving the country. For many students in China, it has become more and more difficult to get passports issued. Therefore, the much feared "suspension of exchange" is already in effect despite any US action.

The Bush Administration has been trying hard not to provoke the Chinese government since it believes that it is in the best US interest to have a good relationship with the Beijing government. But is it not in the best interest of the United States to see China following the footsteps of the Eastern European countries? Does it not make sense to help accelerate the downfall of a dictatorial regime that hates truth and justice?

It is true that the Chinese government has made a few threats to nations that responded angrily to the bloody suppression of peaceful demonstrations. These threats do not show their strength, but their weakness. Giving in to such threats will only encourage the dictators in Beijing to think that they can get away with anything. History has plenty of lessons. The appeasement to Hitler did not prevent him from starting World War II. Appeasing the Chinese government will not make it less oppressive. Freedom-loving people should stand out and denounce the atrocities of the Chinese government and help those who are in danger of being persecuted.

President Bush, please sign the Pelosi Bill to show that the United States is not intimidated by the threats of the dictators in Beijing and that the real "paper tiger" is not the United States, but the Chinese government.

Andrew Wo G->