Alexander's Column

Red Tiger: America's China problem

Mark Alexander · May 26, 2000

The U.S. House voted 237 to 197 to grant China America’s best trade privileges, permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), removing the annual congressional review of China’s trade status – and debate about the Reds’ human rights atrocities.

The argument in favor of PNTR has focussed on the notion that it will be good for the U.S. economy, and the claim that bringing China into great trade relationships with the U.S. will provide some opportunity for improving human rights in China. However, The Federalist has opposed granting PNTR to China on various grounds.

Central to our mission, of course, is the fact that a congressional vote of PNTR is an end-run around the Constitution, which assigns to Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations,” and which is completely abrogated as international organizations assume this power. We also view the evidence and experience of past years’ dealings with China to demonstrate incontestably that trade and business have not brought the Chinese Communist rulers to greater respect for the God-endowed rights of their citizens.

But primary among our concerns is U.S. national security, and recognition that the current policy toward Communist China is the diametric opposite of the policy our beloved mentor Ronald Reagan adopted to bring down Communism in the former USSR. Even Richard Nixon, author of the so-called “opening” to China, shortly before his death conceded that this policy appeared to be flawed, saying, “We may have created a Frankenstein.”

Noted Chinese dissident Harry Wu says, “Our relations with China are based on the false idea that the stability of the Chinese Communist Party is necessary for successful political and economic relations with China, and for stability in Asia and international peace in general. … Peace and prosperity are possible only when human rights, democracy and freedom are respected.”

Ahead of the Senate’s PNTR debate, Fred Thompson notes, “I am deeply concerned about China’s continuing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” (You may recall it was Mr. Thompson’s investigation, which originally exposed the Clinton/China campaign quid pro quo – ignored, of course, by the media.) “Despite its formal agreements and public promises, it’s no secret that China is one of the worst [weapons] proliferators worldwide. In the last few months alone, it is reported that China transferred missile technology to Libya, provided missile-related goods to North Korea, and may still be providing secret technical assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear programs.”

Mr. Thompson has proposed an amendment to the basic trade bill stipulating that “if any person, company or group in China violates international nonproliferation treaties or agreements, or U.S. export control laws, in ways that contribute to proliferation, the President will be required to impose sanctions both on the proliferator and on the PRC (People’s Republic of China – the Communist government). The proliferator will face an immediate variety of sanctions, including the suspension of all U.S. exports (defense and ‘dual-use’ items) controlled by the Commerce and State Departments.”

The Senate will take up the PNTR question after the Memorial Day recess. If, as expected, PNTR passes the Senate, members should also pass the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, to give “teeth” to our commitment to Taiwan, which has been intentionally devitalized by Clinton. To wit: This week, the Clinton administration departed from longtime U.S. policy by placing Taiwan on the FBI’s classified list of hostile intelligence threats, equating Taipei with Beijing and Moscow.

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