China: Our Kind of Socialism

Saul Thomas stthomas at
Fri Jan 28 22:11:19 MST 2000

Wednesday January 26 1:48 PM ET

U.S. Chamber to Spend Millions on China Campaign

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest
business federation, will spend up to $8 million to support selected
congressional candidates as part of a major campaign to win passage of a
landmark trade agreement with China.

Chamber President Thomas Donohue said on Wednesday the group would dole out
close to $100,000 on as many as 40 different House races and $200,000 or
more on nine to 11 Senate races, in support of candidates that back the
China deal and other pro-business initiatives. Millions more may be spent
on related election-year efforts.

``We're going to pick what we consider the really important races that are
very close and where somebody in that race, of either party, has gone out
of their way and has made an extraordinary effort many times to support
this great economy,'' Donohue said. ``That's where we're going to put this

The money will be spent on direct campaign contributions, voter-organizing
efforts and advertisements.

Other pro-trade business groups will back up the chamber. The U.S. Business
Roundtable has budgeted close to $6 million for advertising and research to
boost congressional support for a trade agreement that would open Chinese
markets and clear the way for Beijing to join the World Trade Organization

Business leaders said the campaign was expected to be bigger than their
successful lobbying effort for passage of the 1993 North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that boosted commerce between the United States,
Canada and Mexico.

The White House has also promised an all-out effort to convince Congress to
support the trade agreement with China. President Clinton will use
Thursday's State of the Union address to highlight the accord's benefits.

Business groups have already started placing ads in newspapers, as they
gear up for a fight that could drag on for six months or more over U.S.
access to the vast Chinese market, potentially the world's largest with 1.2
billion consumers.

At a briefing for reporters, Donohue warned lawmakers against attaching
labor, environmental and human rights provisions to the trade legislation,
saying that could prompt sponsors to pull the China bill without a vote.

In exchange for China reducing barriers in everything from agriculture to
telecommunications, Clinton must persuade the Republican-controlled
Congress to grant Beijing favorable access to U.S. markets, so-called
permanent normal trade relations (NTR) status.

Permanent NTR would guarantee Chinese goods the same low-tariff access to
U.S. markets as products from nearly every other nation. China currently
benefits from temporary NTR, which must be renewed each year.

Until Congress grants Beijing permanent trade privileges, U.S. businesses
could not benefit from China's commitment to roll back tariffs and other
trade barriers while foreign companies capitalize on China's new-found

Though flush with cash, business leaders concede they are in for a
difficult fight.

U.S. labor groups, traditionally allied with Clinton's Democratic party,
are planning their own grass-roots campaign against the trade pact that
could put Vice President Al Gore (news - web sites) in a political bind.
Gore, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, is counting on
labor's support at the polls in the November election.

Union leaders have demanded that China improve labor standards before
Congress grants it permanent NTR.

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