Every now and then our country is called upon to stand up for the values on which it was founded. The Beijing regime’s brutal occupation of Tibet, its repression of freedom in China (there are now more people in prison for their beliefs than any time since the Cultural Revolution) and its proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to rogue states like Iran, Pakistan and Libya represent a challenge to our conscience and a threat to international security.
At the same time, the business community is asking us to grant permanent NTR to China. Even if we ignore the repression and the proliferation, there is reason to reject this proposal on the basis of trade alone.
We all agree that it would be better to have China inside the WTO complying with the rules, rather than the status quo of China on the outside violating its agreements. But China will be in the WTO with or without PNTR. However, the Beijing regime has violated every trade agreement it has made with the U.S. over the last 20 years. The Chinese government has no credibility and begs the question: Why should the U.S. grant permanent NTR on the basis of broken promises rather than proven performance?
Even Commerce Secretary Daley has said: "Compliance will be difficult. No questions about it." And the U.S. Trade Representative has publicly stated that we must still negotiate major "commitments on a range of WTO rules, including subsidies, technical standards, a mechanism to review implementation, and many other issues."
To those in the business community who ask why the US should lead the way in speaking out against China’s repressive and dangerous behavior, it is important to note that 40 percent of China’s exports are sold to the U.S. These profits (to exceed $80 billion for 2000 alone) are then used to buy products, political support and silence abroad.
If we remain silent on China because of potential business deals we cannot talk about ideals anywhere in the world with credibility. That’s why I have joined with the National Catholic Conference of Bishops, the International Campaign to Save Tibet, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the China Democracy Party in opposing PNTR for China. The Beijing regime must not dictate to the U.S. our right to review the relationship. Permanent NTR is permanent – once granted we cannot revoke it. And China knows it.
The upcoming vote in Congress is not about whether we should trade with China but how we should trade with China. It is not about whether we should engage with the Beijing regime but whether we do so in a way that sustains our economy, our values and our international security.
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