For the past decade, supporters of unconditional Most Favored Nation (MFN) status have argued that economic reform will lead to political reform in China. Unfortunately, just the opposite is the case -- and it's getting worse.
The new State Department Human Rights Report on China confirms the continuing deterioration of China's human rights record and proves that our policy of delinking commercial relations from human rights has been a failure. The report states that "The [Chinese] government's human rights record deteriorated markedly throughout the year, as the government intensified efforts to suppress dissent . . . commit widespread and well-documented human rights abuses, in violation of internationally accepted norms."
The State Department Report contains tough criticism of Beijing's increased repression of democracy activists and religious groups such as Tibetan Buddhists, Chinese Christians and even the Falun Gong practitioners. The report states that religious services were broken up while church leaders were harassed, detained, beaten and tortured. Clearly, the totalitarian political system is not changing.
According to the report, China's leading democracy group, the China Democracy Party, was a particular target of repression. By the end of year, all its leaders were punished severely and in jail. Economic reform has not led to political reform. Indeed, it has only strengthened the hand of the regime to intensify its repression of the Chinese people.
Over the years the American people, by margins of 2 to 1, have supported conditioning normal trade relations with human rights. In fact, the National Farmers Union has voted to oppose permanent NTR this week because of the repressive nature of the Chinese regime.
Today I challenge the Clinton Administration to not abandon our only negotiating leverage for improving human rights. The Chinese government should not be rewarded for their increased abuse of the Chinese people.
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