11/10/2006, 00.00
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Nancy Pelosi: likely to give Beijing headache

The new Speaker of Congress is known as a critic of China's human rights record. Chinese media have described her as "very prejudiced". Taiwan is thrilled.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Chinese media did not go out of its way to cover the American elections, but many agencies are embarrassed by the rise of Nancy Pelosi, known to be passionate about human rights in China. Such is her fervour that some analysts predict friction between Beijing and Washington.

Pelosi, new Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has a long history of open criticism of China over its human rights record. In 1991, in Tiananmen Square, where a student massacre took place in 1989, she managed to unfurl a banner that read "To those who died for democracy in China". She opposed awarding China "favourite-nation" status (a series of easing up on imports and tariffs. These conditions ended with China's entry into the WTO). She has consistently demanded the release of political prisoners and opposed Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics.

According to Professor Jin Canrong, an expert on international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, the Democrats' resurgence and the rise of Nancy Pelosi "could affect US policies towards China". Xia Yishan, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said: "We can foresee a greater emphasis on trade policy and human rights as the Democrats are more protectionist and Ms Pelosi is known for her ardent criticism of China's human rights record."

Beijing fears the US could adopt a policy that offers more protection to American products by imposing taxes and copyright verification on Chinese products.  Already yesterday, Democrat Charles Ranger threatened to take action against "dumping" and "dishonest trade". The rumour is circulating among Democrats that Pelosi could revive a bill, which stalled in Congress this year, to impose a 27.5% tariff on China's exports to the US unless it significantly raises the value of the yuan, deemed by the international community claims to be undervalued.

In China, the People's Daily did not devote much coverage to Pelosi. The Shanghai Morning Post described her as "very prejudiced" against Beijing. In contrast, Taiwan is positive about her victory. "We feel happy about her being elected and offer her our heartfelt congratulations," Foreign Ministry spokesman David Wang Chien-yeh said. "She has attached great importance in human rights and democracy. This is in line with what Taiwan has been promoting." Pelosi visited Taiwan in 1999.

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