|RIGHTS VS. ECONOMIC MIGHT|
June 24, 1997
MARGARET WARNER: Now, four views on where the U.S. and China go from here. James Lilley served as U.S. Ambassador to China from 1989 to 1991. He's now the director of the Institute for Global Chinese Affairs at the University of Maryland. Gary Bauer is the president of the Family Research Council, a social conservative advocacy group. Robert Kapp is the president of the U.S.-China Business Council, which represents American companies operating in China. And Sidney Jones is executive director of Human Rights Watch/Asia, a monitoring group. Gary Bauer, what does today's vote mean? What is it going to mean?
GARY BAUER, Family Research Council: Well, I think first of all, I think it indicates that the foreign policy establishment and a lot of the political leadership in both parties here in Washington, D.C., is out of touch with the American people. The thing that struck me, Margaret, over the last eight weeks of this debate is that the already low support for MFN completely collapsed. At the beginning of this debate it was only about 33-34 percent.
MARGARET WARNER: You're not talking about the American public.
GARY BAUER: Absolutely. The public supports our position overwhelmingly. Businessweek came out with a poll just yesterday. It's now--support for MFN is now down 17 percent. So while I think this vote today is a bad vote, a vote that's sad, saddening to me, it is nonetheless a vote that is out of step with the American people. I believe the American people eventually will move the foreign policy establishment of this city to start defending American values again and our foreign policy.
|Interpreting the vote|
MARGARET WARNER: Robert Kapp, do you see it that way? Do you see this as a warning that the margin was narrower and--
ROBERT KAPP, U.S.-China Business Council: Well, predictably, Margaret, we see it as a vote for common sense. We feel that the basic logic of not closing the door, shutting off the lights, and hanging out the "do not disturb" sign on one quarter of the world's population was understood and acted on by Congress today.
This was a very bitter season of debate on China MFN in which for the first time I think the supporters of normal relations with China were under very heavy attack on basic grounds of their own integrity. And I think early in the debate Congress wavered and in a way reeled backwards. But we were pleased that by the time of the vote this central logic of continued economic engagement with China as the basis for a far broader global relationship was understood and was supported.
MARGARET WARNER: Sidney Jones, how do you interpret today's vote? What do you think it is going to mean?
SIDNEY JONES, Human Rights Watch/Asia: Well, I think it clearly means that there won't be permanent MFN for China anytime soon. But I also think it means that we have to look for new tools to raise human rights questions on China. It's clear that we're not going to be able to do anything using the MFN tools.
So we need to look ahead. And I think some of the things to look at are the summit, the proposed exchange of visits between Jiang Zemin and President Clinton; we need to look at the role of the U.S. business community; and we need to look at the new governments of Britain and France to see whether some kind of coalition can be built multilaterally.
MARGARET WARNER: Amb. Lilley, how do you think today's vote and the rhetoric that went along with it is going to be read in Beijing by the Chinese leadership?
JAMES LILLEY, Former Ambassador, China: Well, I think the Chinese will see that the Americans want to make the trading relationship work. And I think they are going to be waiting for the other shoe to drop, and they're going to hear it very soon, I think. One of the most important developments, I think, for the Chinese was that the G-8 in Denver came out with a statement for democracy in Hong Kong.
And what I'm saying is that the movement beyond MFN debate to positive moves, to influence Chinese behavior, and we've got to move on from MFN--we've got to deal with the very specific problems of proliferation, of weapons of mass destruction. We've got to deal with the problems of trade inequities. We've got to get to the awful problem of North Korea and solve that one. And we've got to deal with human rights and democracy, focusing on the future of Hong Kong.
GARY BAUER: You know, Margaret, one thing we haven't talked about is the effect of this vote on the seven and a half million people in the slave labor camps in China. When we were in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, we found out later that every time the United States stood up to the Soviet Union somehow that information got into the gulag.
Congressman Wolf of Northern Virginia talked about the dramatic event of visiting those prisoners and having them tell him exactly what had been happening in the United States because it encouraged them. I hate to think of what will happen in China in the days ahead as those people that are there because they've been worshiping their god been thrown into jail find out the news that the United States has abandoned them again.
|Moving beyond the MFN?|
MARGARET WARNER: All right. But do you agree with Amb. Lilley and Sidney Jones that it's time to move on also beyond MFN; that there are other steps that have to be taken?
GARY BAUER: Well, I'm glad to hear them all say this. There will be other legislative initiatives that will be fairly tough on China. Chris Cox from California has a bill that we're very interested in. But I'll tell you something, Margaret, the same forces that opposed us doing something about MFN, particularly the business community that wants to do all this business with China, no matter what they do, that same community will spend a lot of money to stop anything the United States Congress wants to do; that puts human rights and American values back ahead of pure trade in our relationship with China.
ROBERT KAPP: Margaret, I want to come back to something Sidney said a moment ago, and which was said by one of the members of Congress who was in your taped segment. I think the continued spread of the realization that the annual MFN debate is a non-starter, it does not produce anything except a continuation of current policy, has reached the point where the United States can and probably will consider moving to a permanent extension of MFN for China if and when the Chinese come to the table with the necessary agreements for a commercially acceptable entrance into the World Trade Organization.
MARGARET WARNER: Meaning what exactly?
ROBERT KAPP: In terms of WTO accession?
MARGARET WARNER: Yes.
ROBERT KAPP: We have--and business I would say drives this to a considerable degree--we have a long list of requirements that China must meet if it is to join the WTO and play by global trade rules, many of which are going to be extremely wrenching and dislocating to the Chinese economy.
MARGARET WARNER: Give us just two examples.
ROBERT KAPP: Lots of it involves market access. Some of it involves the right of foreign companies to import into China on their own steam. A lot of it has to do with national treatment so that foreign companies and Chinese companies are treated equally in China, a fundamental requirement of the WTO.
But those negotiations are actually going along quite seriously. And if China comes forward with the kinds of wrenching requirements or wrenching commitments that we and other trade partners are demanding of it, I think we will see an opportunity to move to permanent MFN at the same time and get this annual debilitating exercise off the table.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me get Sidney Jones back in here. Sidney Jones, is that a tradeoff you could support?
SIDNEY JONES: Absolutely not. And I want to reiterate that I see the vote today as an indication that, in fact, permanent MFN is not on the agenda. Even if every year we have this debate, it still brings up the possibility of raising human rights issues, raising Hong Kong, looking at how a variety of issues come up inside China, whether it's worker rights, whether it's access to prisons, and so on.
I'm afraid that if we lose this annual debate, that, in fact, there will be no venue to have these issues on the agenda front and center if for no other reason the annual MFN debate keeps human rights in China on the top of the foreign policy agenda. And I think that's useful.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Amb. Lilley, where do you come down on this question?
JAMES LILLEY: I think Bob is quite right. I think you've got to get tough conditions for China joining WTO, and this will do much more for American business than threatening to take MFN away. But let me just--
MARGARET WARNER: We should explain that WTO is the new global trading organization.
|The new World Trade Organization|
JAMES LILLEY: Yes. It's succeeds GATT. It succeeds that. It's the World Trading Organization. It has sanctions built into this thing; you can use them in WTO. But let me just make one point. In dealing with China and seeking to influence events in China, there is very limited value in slapping them across the face and trying to force change. Books can tell you this in spades.
What you've got to do is to get on a positive kick. You've got to increase your religious broadcasts--FEBC--the Far Eastern Broadcasting Company, or even Radio Free Asia. You've got to deal with Christian groups in there. We've got very good Christians in China now. We've got to keep contact with these people. The church has never been stronger in China. It's been persecuted, but it's strong.
It seems to me you've got these heroic Chinese movie people who just come out with "Tempest Moon." These are the heroes. They're staying in China. They're writing allegories about the regime. They're tough. They make Spielberg look like he's a softy. What these guys have gone through, it seems to me the rule of law, dealing with the National People's Congress, tying Most Favored Nation permanently into world trade accession on the right terms, that's the way to deal with China.
MARGARET WARNER: More carrots, fewer sticks, could that work?
GARY BAUER: Look, I'm shocked but not surprised, I guess, that both of these distinguished gentlemen continue to ignore the main problems here. Seven and a half million people in slave labor camps, worse religious persecution than at any time since 1980; China continues to sell weapons to our enemies very poignantly aimed at us.
They're involved in a massive arms build-up that neither of you have mentioned, that have as the target our sons and daughters serving in the 7th Fleet in the South Pacific, and the foreign policy establishment of this town, and the business community is asleep about it, and that is a scandal. And there is no way--I'm afraid--there's no way--I hate to break this to you--that the American people will support permanent MFN. Only 17 percent of them support extending it for one year.
MARGARET WARNER: Let Mr. Kapp get back in.
ROBERT KAPP: Trust us, Margaret. After this season of debate we're certainly not asleep. I think the main point, however, is that the question of how we conduct our relationships with China is not a matter of dragons and demons within the American political establishment. It is a question of what is the most effective way to encourage China to develop under its own steam and its own sovereignty in directions that Americans would welcome and applaud.
And there's no sign--there's no sign in the demand that economic relations to the tune of $60 billion and 200,000 American jobs in exporting alone be canceled. There is no sign that that would have any constructive effect in achieving the kinds of ethical, moral, and even religious goals that some in the political community have demanded that we cancel MFN to achieve.
MARGARET WARNER: But do you--
SIDNEY JONES: But I do think that there are other tools that can be used.
MARGARET WARNER: Go ahead.
SIDNEY JONES: I think that, for example, if you're interested in the access to the Chinese prison system, there's a memorandum of understanding reached between the United States and China which has never been properly enforced. It's time to take a look at that again. It actually involves having customs service people on the ground in China, being able to go into places where they believe goods are being produced for export to the United States.
It's a limited view into the Chinese prison system, but that's something that could be renegotiated. It's something that could be enforced, and it would far more effective, I think, to actually look at that in concrete terms than to try to apply a larger, blunter tool. I think we can take each of these issues that come up with China and try to find a tool that matches it one for one. And I think the--prison labor is one that would help on the prison access question.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, now this is the kind of thing you were talking about, Amb. Lilley, but what's standing in the way of the different steps that you've suggested, encouraging rule of law in China?
JAMES LILLEY: It's going to be very--
MARGARET WARNER: Is it money? Is it Chinese government?
JAMES LILLEY: Of course, it's the Chinese government. They don't particularly want this, but there are factions in China that want it. But let me deal with something that Gary said about the Chinese military. This is my specialty.
And I am no softy on China on these things. I'm as hard as anybody in town. But I can tell you that the question of what the Chinese are doing with their military in proliferation is a very complicated question, and their military is still very obsolete, very backward, and that they've cut back in certain areas of proliferation of key interest to us, and when we target the specific places where they are doing things to our detriment, we take action against it, whether it's chemical precursors, or C8O2 Cruise missiles, or whatever they're doing. We could work on this, and I was the one that said I don't want the Chinese with missiles in Iran pointed at the 30,000--15,000 people in the fifth fleet.
On the other hand, we are not implementing that. It seems to me we've got to get an understanding with China on the strategic posture in the Middle East. They're dependent on oil. It doesn't make any sense for them to build up the regime in Iran, and this is the way you bring them around to a point where they're working with you, rather than against you on these things.
MARGARET WARNER: You were trying to get in earlier.
|A complicated matter|
GARY BAUER: Margaret, it's always complicated to the Washington insiders, but it's not complicated to the American people. They listened to this debate for eight weeks. They listened to both sides and support for MFN collapsed all around the country. You know, just a few days ago there was a story on the front page of the paper--Silicon Graphics, a major company, probably a member of your council--has just sold--
ROBERT KAPP: Definitely not, Mr. Bauer, but we would welcome their participation.
GARY BAUER: I'm sure you would. They just sold 49 supercomputers to China, operating under the guise of MFN. The American security community believes those computers have already been transferred to the Chinese military. They're being used to make Chinese missiles lighter so that they can reach targets in the United States. This foreign policy establishment in Washington and the business community continue to avert their gaze from the clear evidence that China is on a path of confrontation with the United States. That's why this vote is so disheartening today, but the American people are catching on.
ROBERT KAPP: Margaret, I would say that there's another feature to this huge debate, which I found extraordinarily moving. In the context that we're talking about now, we began to hear about a month ago a rising chorus of concern from small companies that people have never heard of in towns and small cities all around the country that most Americans have never been to or were familiar with, and from people in the social service and in Christian organizations active in China, working with China, who wrote letters, came to Washington, some even testified.
Mr. Bauer and I were both at a hearing at which several such spokesmen came forward, saying, look, if you cut off the trade with China, it's the worst possible thing you can do morally; it is morally counterproductive for our efforts in China. And I feel that that was the most moving and most exciting thing about--
MARGARET WARNER: Gentlemen, I'm sorry, and Ms. Jones, we have to leave it there. Thanks very much.
GARY BAUER: Thank you, Margaret.