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Albright urges keeping normal trade with China


June 10, 1997
Web posted at: 1:44 p.m. EDT (1744 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Tuesday that revoking normal trade ties with China could further isolate the communist nation and create "suspicion and hostility" among its leaders.

Albright, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, said the U.S. government is troubled by China's human rights record but believes that engaging China -- encouraging Beijing to "promote positive change" -- will have "a liberalizing effect on political and human rights practices."

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"Engagement does not mean endorsement," she said in prepared testimony. "We do not need to take the drastic step of ending normal trade relations to demonstrate our concern about specific Chinese policies."

"No matter how hard we might wish, we will not be able to transform China's behavior overnight," Albright said.

President Clinton has recommended extension of most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status for China for another year, which provides the nation with the same low tariffs as nearly every other country enjoys.

Congress is debating whether to grant the extension, with critics arguing that denial of MFN is the only leverage the United States has to press China on such issues as human rights, trade and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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