BEIJING: Chinese officials arrested and ordered the expulsion of U.S. diplomat Bradley Gerdes on charges of spying in restricted military areas. Gerdes was arrested along with Kenji Maetani, his Japanese counterpart, while traveling through the southern town of Suixi. U.S. officials insist the two diplomats were traveling with the permission of the Chinese government. So why the expulsion? Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz reports that the Chinese may simply be retaliating for the Clinton Administration's decision to grant a transit visa to Taiwanese Vice President Li Yuan-zu: "Such moves pique China, because in Beijing's view it is tantamount to giving official recognition to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a mere renegade province. Indeed, China protested Washington's move, but analysts here note that Beijing's reaction was in fact quite mild compared to its vehement outrage over the visit of Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui to his American alma mater last June. Beijing's reprisal then included the expulsion last August of two American air force officers who had been monitoring Chinese military operations in southern Fujian province."