Path to Better Human Rights Is through Better Trade

By Bremner, John | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 14, 1994 | Go to article overview

Path to Better Human Rights Is through Better Trade


Bremner, John, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Now that the Cold War is over, America has lost its excuse for befriending repressive regimes simply because they are anti-Soviet. Accordingly, human rights have become a paramount concern in foreign policy.

It is commonly thought that the best way to encourage human rights is to withhold trade privileges from the offending parties.

Certainly Congress thinks so, and, until recently, so did President Bill Clinton. But face to face with reality, he isn't so sure.

In respect to China in particular, the president is beginning to regret he vowed last year to withdraw its Most Favored Nation status this June unless the Chinese make major progress on human rights.

China is unlikely to meet U.S. demands. The probable result, as most in Congress will tell you: cancellation of China's MFN status and a virtual halt to Sino-U.S. trade.

While this would make an important symbolic point and seriously harm the Chinese economy, the damage to our economy would be great as well. China plans to spend more than half a trillion dollars in the next five years on infrastructure alone. If America captures just a fraction of this business, it will be worth hundreds of thousands of jobs here.

So one casualty of a tough line on human rights would be the U.S. worker. Another would be Americans of modest incomes who could no longer purchase major quantities of low-priced Chinese goods.

A third cost: the loss of the Chinese market to Europe and Japan, which have no intention of relating trade to human rights.

Does this mean the world's most idealistic democracy must give up on human rights? Is financial self-interest more important than striving to make the rest of the world approach our standards of political decency?

Cynics would say yes. Human rights advocates would insist the answer must be never. Both are wrong.

The issue is one of patience and strategy - not affirming or abandoning the cause of human rights.

If our primary concern is with clean hands - having nothing to do with governments whose policies are morally repugnant to us - human rights standards must be stringently applied, regardless of the cost.

This is true even if refusing trade with retrograde governments does not, in fact, promote improved behavior on their part.

But human rights from this perspective is much more about us than it is about them.

If America truly wishes to promote human rights - and is prepared to get its hands dirty in doing so - the best course is not to prohibit trade, but to promote it.

The link between trade and prosperity needs no explanation.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Path to Better Human Rights Is through Better Trade
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.