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At the first session of the People’s National Congress held in March, Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin was elected to the presidency. The state constitution was amended, the phrase “socialist market economy” replacing references to a “planned economy”.

A government White Paper emphatically re-iterated China’s claims to sovereignty over Taiwan, mentioning, for the first time, the use of military force as a means of achieving re-unification. Nevertheless limited trade links were established with the island republic.

In a further clamp down on political opposition an increasing number 1994 of dissidents were arrested or banned from Beijing during sessions of the National Congress or important state visits.

Edward Balladur became the first French prime minister to visit China since 1978, both countries being eager to re-establish their traditionally good relationship.

An agreement concluded between China and Russia in July sought to defuse military tensions along their common border.

Having already carried out two atomic bomb tests in the previous year, 1995 China exploded two further bombs in tests at Lop Nor.

More than 60 dissidents were imprisoned or temporarily detained.

Having returned to China, the civil rights campaigner Harry Wu, a US citizen, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for spying and deported.

In September the UN-sponsored World Women’s Conference was held in Beijing, attended by some 7000 delegates. In the days preceding the conference delegates to the NGO Women’s Forum in Huairou were subjected to heavy-handed treatment by the Chinese police.

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