April 26, 2000
President Clinton's Chinese benefactors and the multinational
importers are demanding that he bully Congress into continuing China's
Most Favored Nation (MFN) trading status, already renamed Normal Trade
Relations (NTR). Now the plan is to grease China's entry into the
World Trade Organization (WTO) by making this favorable treatment
It's not necessary for Congress to vote at all until after the WTO
admits China, and China's WTO accession agreement with the other WTO
members hasn't yet been written. But Clinton's Beijing and corporate
backers are pressing for a vote now in order to assure China's WTO
membership and eliminate Congress's controversial annual review.
The sad part about Clinton's plan is that the Republican
leadership in Congress is trying to give him what he wants. This would
be the ultimate success of former China lobbyist Sandy Berger's demand
that Republicans lock arms with Clinton in the "bipartisan center."
PNTR would mean that Congress would henceforth be denied the
opportunity to vote up or down on trade relations with China. PNTR
would forfeit Congress's constitutional power "to regulate commerce
with foreign nations."
Congress has been renewing Most Favored Nation status for China
for two decades, and every year we are promised that our good faith
actions will make China more democratic, more free-market oriented, and
more humanitarian toward its own people. We gave China 18 years of MFN
to prove this theory and China flunked the test.
The advocates of PNTR for China argue that trade with China is a
vital factor in our prosperous economy. That's only true for the
multinationals that are importing $83 billion a year of China's
products, many of them made with slave labor.
But those who want to export U.S. products, including farmers,
manufacturers and American workers, are losing out big time. They can
sell only $13 billion of U.S. goods to China because China won't
reciprocate and open its markets to us.
The Clintonian response to this inequity is to predict that these
problems will disappear after China joins the WTO. Those who spout
such fairy tales can probably be counted among those whose pockets are
being lined by the Chinese through political contributions, lobbyists'
or consultants' fees, or taxpayer-guaranteed investments.
With China's long history of thumbing its nose at trade
agreements, it is unlikely that China will obey WTO rules. It's just
as unlikely that the WTO will make any rulings in favor of the United
States since it has already ruled against us repeatedly.
As to why we should have normal trade with Communist China but not
with Communist Cuba, we are told another fairy tale that China is
progressing toward capitalism and an entrepreneurial system. In truth,
China is ruled by a government-underworld alliance in which sales of
weapons and human beings, theft of Western intellectual property, drug
trafficking, smuggling and prostitution have merged with legitimate
enterprises, all owned by former Communists and their princelings who
have grabbed control of former state-owned industries under the guise
As Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA) points out, China subsidizes its
industries massively through its state-directed banking system, which
is not open to foreign competition or inspection. It is ridiculous to
allow China-subsidized industries a free ride to compete in America.
Meanwhile, the $70 billion a year ($83 billion minus $13 billion)
profit which China rakes in through its imbalance of trade is going
right into China's military-industrial complex. Not only does China
have 13 intercontinental ballistic missiles targeted on U.S. cities,
but Beijing is selling weapons to our enemies all the way from AK-47
assault rifles to Los Angeles street gangs to helping Libya build long-
China has more people in jail today than 11 years ago when the
students were massacred in Tiananmen Square, and religious persecution
continues to be a world scandal. Even the U.S. State Department's 1999
Human Rights Report on China says: "Elements of the security apparatus
employed torture and other degrading treatment in dealing with
detainees and prisoners. . . . officials used electric shocks,
prolonged periods of solitary confinement, incommunicado detention,
beatings, shackles, and other forms of abuse against detained men and
Voting for PNTR would abandon forever our ability to checkmate
China's inhumanity, thefts and belligerent behavior. No longer would
we be able to challenge China's record on human rights abuses,
religious persecution, forced abortions, espionage, illegal campaign
contributions, trade imbalances, threats against Taiwan, potential
threats against the Panama Canal, or other challenges to our national
Clinking glasses with Communists two years ago, Clinton signaled
to the world whose side he is on. If Congress awards Permanent Normal
Trade status to an undeserving China, Congress will give the Beijing
Communists a blank check to rule, trade, and threaten as they please.
Whose side is Congress on? The vote on MFN for China is a great
deal more important to truth, justice, morality and the rule of law
than last year's vote on impeachment.