Congress Prepares To Vote On China Trade (6/23/97)
TIME On Politics:
Britian to China: The Big Handover (6/30/97)
One Country, Many Systems: Inside China (6/30/97)
Withdrawing MFN Won't Change China
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China's Trade Status
President Bill Clinton wants to renew most-favored-nation trade status for China, but some members of Congress say the U.S. policy of engagement with China hasn't been effective. Here's some of the e-mail we've gotten this week on the question of China's trade status. If you'd like to comment, send us e-mail at editor@AllPolitics com. And be sure to include your name and home town.
'Wait One Month'
Wait one month for the vote. Watch Hong Kong and the transition.
-- M.L.B, Nottingham, Pa., June 24
'Why Tolerate Massive Trading Deficits'
With the Cold War a part of history, the United States no longer needs to maintain adversely favourable trade relationships with other nations so as to prop them up against communism. Why tolerate massive trading deficits with countries that don't play fair with American goods? MFN should be given to those countries which, in return, grant MFN status to the United States. Borders that are only open one way are anachronistic and contrary to U.S. interests in a world where economic strength now means so much more than military strength. This is especially true with regard to large nuclear powers like China.
The United States should be wary of strategies designed to promote trade deficits in China's favour, thinking that it will lead to China's dependency on the U.S. and thus increased leverage for America in diplomatic circles. China is too intransigent (see Iraq), and in the long run, continued deficits will not equal more U.S. leverage, but rather a weaker U.S. economic position and an unfavourable balance of trade.
-- Michael D. Shore, Toronto, June 24
Principally, I am strongly opposed to the renewal of China's most-favored-nation status. Chinese government has severely violated its citizens' human rights since the June 4 crackdown eight years ago. It defies the internationally recognized standard for a human's basic rights, such as the freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. On the other hand, the communist government has never acted in good faith on the global platform. First, in order to deter Taiwan from going independent, it repeatedly fired missiles in Taiwan Strait for almost a month in April of 1996. Second, it secretly supplied some rogue countries, like Iran, with advanced military accessories that are potentially capable of posing threats to world peace. How can we negotiate trade with such a totalitarian government while denouncing its behavior? Are we schizophrenic? Does everybody realize that we are acting as two totally different persons while dealing with China.
However, as a person from Hong Kong, I am dreadful that the revocation of China's MFN would undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. Today, a large amount of exports from China to the United States are shipped via Hong Kong, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in this tiny colony. If China loses its trade privilege, Hong Kong will be, more than likely, among the critically hurt economies. The handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China on July 1st is just around the corner. A continuously growing economy has never been so important to people at Hong Kong. They cannot afford the lose of jobs and shrinking economy as a result of termination of China's MFN status.
Despite China's unacceptable behavior, it seems that the United States has no choice but to renew China's MFN status. Over the course of past decades, the bilateral trade between China and US has grown at a geometric rate. Consumers in the States have become so reliant on cheap products manufactured in China that they will be forced to pay twice as much for those products as a consequence of higher taxes levied on China's export. Besides, hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs related to Sino-U.S. trade will vanish. Presented with so many disadvantages with the termination of China's MFN, I find that I have to support President Clinton's decision, though with strong reservation.
-- Lawrence Kwok, San Diego, Calif., June 24
'A Whole New Meaning'
I'd say by trying to disembowel our own tobacco industry we are giving a whole new meaning to "most favored nation." Cigarette manufacturing is, after all, China's number one industry and number one source of tax revenue. Since China is also working very hard to increase its cigarette exports, if we weaken or destroy our own industry, which is now third in world trade, we will certainly help China's industry and exports (and even the E.U.'s to boot).
Despite past most-favored-nation status, China has refused to lower its trade barriers to our own tobacco industry, though the State Department has certainly tried.
Since we're punishing our own tobacco industry, I think we should punish China's as well by not granting the renewal of the MFN.
-- Wanda Hamilton, Miami, Fla., June 24
'The Wrong Course Of Action'
I am a conservative who agrees with the Republicans on most things, but I think that many in the GOP who would like to see China's trade status revoked are taking the wrong course of action. China may still be a Communist country as far as its leadership goes, but I strongly feel that China is moving closer to Capitalism, and we should help to kill Communism in China once and for all by keeping the Western way of life prevalent in their society. By cutting ourselves off like this, we risk isolating China in an area which has long been tainted with Communism, with no powerful Western nation to show them the way to the free market.
By cutting their MFN status, we would lose the large influence we have over China and their economy. Communism is already failing in China, thanks to American products which have made their way overseas. Let's keep all of it, from the Internet to the Big Mac, flowing to China. That will win China's citizens to Capitalism's side.
-- Paul Nolette, Holliston, Mass., June 24
'Wait And See'
I think we should play the wait-and-see game because of the transfer of territory between Great Britain to China over Hong Kong. If the transfer is clean and the people of Hong Kong can keep their normal liberties like they had under Great Britain [then it should receive the status,] but if China decides to make laws against the rights of the people, then it should not get the MFN trade status recognition and [we should] get our money out of China.
-- Bryan Medlin, Trenton, Mich., June 21
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Janet Reno's Decision: More Reaction (12/04/97)
Reno's Independent Counsel Decision (12/03/97)
Turkeys and Other Political Fowl (11/26/97)
Jesse Helms vs. William Weld (9/12/97)
The Line-Item Veto: Your Comments (8/12/97)
Comments on Budget Agreement, Fund-Raising Hearings (8/6/97)
The Fund-Raising Hearings (7/23/97)
The Senate Hearings Continue: Your Comments (7/16/97)
The Campaign Finance Hearings: More Of Your Reactions (7/14/97)
Responses On The Fund-Raising Hearings (7/8/97)
China's Trade Status (6/24/97)
Watergate 25th Anniversary (6/18/97)
China's Trade Status: Your Thoughts (5/20/97)
Late-Term Abortions: More Reader Reaction (5/16/97)
Late-Term Abortions: What Readers Say (5/15/97)
The Budget Deal: Your Views (5/7/97)
FDR Memorial: Your Views (5/2/97)
Volunteerism Summit: Lots Of Skepticism (4/29/97)
On The Dole: More Reaction (4/18/97)
On The Dole: Your Reaction (4/17/97)
Reno's Decision: More Of Your Reactions (4/16/97)
Reno's Decision: Some Strong Opinions (4/15/97)
A Grab Bag of Opinions (4/4/97)
A Taxing Question (3/26/97)
More Thoughts On CDA (3/20/97)
Indecency And The Net (3/18/97)
Clinton's Fund-Raising (3/12/97)
More On Term Limits (2/17/97)
Sound Off On Term Limits (2/13/97)
State Of The Union E-mails (2/4/97)
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