Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Article excerpt

Debate Continues Over China's Most-Favored-Nation Status

The opinion-page article "Repairing the US-China Relationship," April 30, misses the point.

While the debate continues over whether to unconditionally renew China's most-favored-nation (MFN) status, articles such as this one continue to misinform the public.

After MFN status was extended to China in 1980, there was little debate until the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. That highly publicized incident demonstrated to the world that China still had little regard for human rights despite significant economic development. Some have argued against linking human rights to trade policy because it will not only undermine US-Chinese relations and severely damage China's economy, but will also aggravate the human rights situation in China.

However, the United States must think of the long-term effects of leaving human rights out of the purview of its international trade policy, not only in China, but with all its trading partners. Foreign policy has become a very complex system, in which every facet is related to another. To ignore human rights while discussing trade is inconsistent with the US's ultimate objective to embrace China as a global ally and trading partner.

But this past year has also shown that China is sensitive to world opinion. The Fourth World Conference on Women and the NGO Forum were both a success, despite attempts by the government to suppress NGOs and individuals that promote human rights. Activist Harry Wu was arrested, but then released after significant international pressure.

In March, Amnesty International kicked off an international campaign to address human rights violations in China. They are urging businesses that deal with China to ensure that their working practices in China set an example to others by respecting the fundamental human rights of their employees, particularly the right to free speech and association.

In June, Amnesty International USA will hold its Annual General Meeting in Washington, and Harry Wu and Liu Gang will be on hand to lead a demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy.

But demonstrations are not enough. Not only should American companies set an example, but so should the American leadership. …

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