- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2000

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura says he will work to help the Clinton administration win passage in Congress of permanent normal trade relations with China.
"I've been asked by the administration to take a very lead role on trade of which I'm honored, and I will take that lead," Mr. Ventura said on "Fox News Sunday." "I believe in doing what's best for our country, and if I can help, I'll doggone well do it."
Mr. Ventura is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Ways and Means Committee.
When he was in Washington for a recent National Governors' Association meeting, Mr. Ventura told President Clinton he was a strong supporter of China's entry into the World Trade Organization, White House spokesman Jake Siewert said yesterday. The president said he hoped Mr. Ventura would play a visible role.
"Obviously, we appreciate his support and hope he's visible on this because he speaks for an important and substantial portion of the American people," Mr. Siewert said from Geneva, where Mr. Clinton met with Syrian President Hafez Assad.
Mr. Clinton is asking Congress to pass legislation that would award China permanent normal trade status with the United States in return for China's agreement to drop trade barriers that U.S. manufacturers and farmers have complained cost them billions of dollars in lost export sales.
China made the market-opening offers to get U.S. support for its membership in the WTO.
"If we turn our back on China, rest assured the other nations throughout the world are not going to turn their back on them," Mr. Ventura said. "Our farmers in Minnesota are hurting right now. They need those markets."
Mr. Clinton and the nation's business community strongly support permanent normal trade relations, while organized labor is just as steadfastly opposed.
Mr. Ventura said labor's position was wrong.
"They better modernize themselves and realize that opening up China to our trade is going to create more jobs here," Mr. Ventura said. "Because we're in a position where we're giving up nothing. Whatever China is sending here now, they'll continue to send here. But what is happening here is tariffs are going to go down, markets in China are going to open up."
The free flow of goods eventually may bring down the communist government, he said.
"This is going to be the biggest thing of this century because it could change the face of the Earth, and I believe it could be the downfall of communism in China, long term, way down the line," Mr. Ventura said.
Mr. Ventura also plans a trade mission to China in the next 12 to 18 months.

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