Ness Scrubs China Trip

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Las Vegas— Federal Communications Commission member Susan Ness abruptly canceled a trip to China, where she was to deliver a speech Wednesday on digital technology and high-speed Internet access.

Ness, who returned to Washington on Monday after attending the National Association of Broadcasters convention here, decided not to travel to Shanghai to deliver the keynote address at the PT Supercomm Asia 2001 conference co-sponsored by the Arlington, Va.-based Telecommunications Industry Association, China's National Postal and Telecommunications and others.

Aides to the commissioner said she was concerned about visiting China at a time of high political tension between Beijing and the Bush administration. Ness also questioned why she needed to go to China when she's just a few months — if not weeks — from leaving office to make room for three new Bush appointments.

TIA spokeswoman Rali Mileva, who last week said her organization was expecting Ness to arrive in Shanghai, declined to comment because she was unaware that the commissioner had canceled. She was unable to contact TIA officials already in China for the conference, she said.

In lieu of a personal appearance, aides to Ness said she agreed to videotape her remarks for presentation to conference attendees.

The U.S. and China have been at loggerheads since April 1, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor collided with a U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II surveillance plane over the South China Sea.

China held the 24-member U.S. crew for 11 days and agreed to release the military personnel only after the American government issued a carefully worded statement of regret.

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