Trade Deal Will Hurt China's Hard-Liners

ÁÎ×Ó¹â Henry C.K.Liu ¹ù¤l¥ú hliu at SPAMmindspring.com
Fri May 19 21:40:57 MDT 2000


   NY Times       May 19, 2000


          Trade Deal Will Hurt China's Hard-Liners

          By SAMUEL R. BERGER and GENE SPERLING

                 WASHINGTON -- As Congress takes up the bill that would
                 establish permanent normal trade relations with China,
the
          question before it is not whether China's human rights record
is
good or
          whether the deal by itself will cure it. The question is, in
addition to the
          overwhelming economic benefits, will its passage increase the
chance of
          positive change in China?

          We believe it will, not out of faith that increased trade
always
brings
          freedom, but because the specific concessions China is making
in
order
          to enter the World Trade Organization will move China in the
right
          direction.

          The divisions within China are clear. Those advocating W.T.O.
          membership and closer ties with the United States are the same

leaders
          pushing a more daring transition from a command-and-control to
a
          market economy. They realize that if they open China to global

          competition, they risk unleashing forces beyond their control
--
          temporary unemployment, social unrest and demands for freedom.
But
          they have concluded that without competition, China will not
be
able to
          build a modern, successful economy.

          The opposition is the entrenched state-owned manufacturing
sector
and
          those Communist officials clinging desperately to one-party
control over
          how people work and live. They know that if China slashes
protective
          tariffs to get into the W.T.O., more of its state enterprises
will go. The
          government's ability to control workers and their loyalty will

diminish.
          There will be more internal pressure for political change.

          Last year alone there were more than 120,000 labor disputes
across
          China over demands for openness and accountability. In some
places,
          the government has cracked down. In others, it has responded
by
giving
          people a greater say, holding local elections and letting
workers
take
          grievances to court. That is how real change can begin. How
would we
          be encouraging it by handing a humiliating defeat to reformers

seeking
          normalized trade and a huge victory to the stalwarts of a
state-dominated
          economy?

          If China enters the W.T.O. and we approve permanent normal
trade
          relations, the resulting greater participation of American
          telecommunications companies will also make telephones and the

Internet
          more accessible for Chinese citizens. Right now only 12
percent of
          Chinese have phones; fewer than 1 percent have Internet
access. No
          matter how hard Chinese officials try to stuff the information

genie back
          into the bottle, an explosion in information technology will
lead
to an
          explosion of idea sharing in China. But if we reject permanent

trade ties,
          our information industries will be denied access. How would
that
help
          Chinese citizens seeking new ideas and tools for political
activism?

          Finally, as Martin Lee, the leader of Hong Kong's Democratic
Party has
          said, participation in the W.T.O. would bolster those in China
who
          understand that the country must embrace the rule of law.
Economic
          activity in China is mostly based on vague and unpublished
rules
that
          maximize the arbitrary power of party officials. To join the
W.T.O.,
          China must publish key rules, making it easier for citizens to

advance on
          the strength of their ideas, not their connections.

          Of course, W.T.O. membership does not guarantee China's
leaders will
          choose political reform. But by accelerating economic change,
it
will
          force them to confront that choice sooner, and will make the
imperative
          for the right choice stronger. If we reject the trade deal and

undercut the
          reform-minded leaders who have risked their reputations for
greater
          openness, we will increase the likelihood of the wrong choice.

          Certainly, establishing permanent normal trade relations is
not
by itself a
          human rights policy toward China. Change will come through a
          combination of internal pressure and external validation of
China's human
          rights struggle. We have to maintain our leadership in the
latter, even as
          the W.T.O. contributes to the former. That's why we sanctioned
China
          under the International Religious Freedom Act last year, and
why
last
          month we sponsored a U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution
          condemning China's human rights violations.

          Those who oppose the trade deal have little vision of how a no
vote
          would further reform in China other than maintaining our
annual
vote to
          threaten to close our market to Chinese goods (at considerable

cost to
          millions of American families). Yet, after 20 years, this
ritual
has become
          just that, a ritual. Even when our relationship was at its
lowest
point, after
          the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, this process has affirmed our
trading
          relationship with China. A human rights commission like that
proposed by
          Representatives Sander Levin and Douglas Bereuter could be
much
          more effective.

          We do not know what path China will take. All we can do is
make the
          decisions most likely to push China in the direction of
economic and
          political reform. It is hard to see how freezing the status
quo,
empowering
          hard-liners, slowing the economic transition, and keeping
American
          companies out of China will increase respect for human rights
or
lead to a
          more open society.

          Samuel R. Berger is the national security adviser. Gene
Sperling is
          President Clinton's national economic adviser.






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