- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2000

They are lying to us. The president of the United States, his living predecessors, the presidential candidates of both major powers, the members of Congress who support them and the business leaders who whip them all on to disgrace, are telling us a series of falsehoods that add up to one giant and historic lie.
Already it is damaging American security and the huge part of the economy that means most to American workers decent, available jobs. They do it to benefit a relatively few American companies and thousands of slave-wage Chinese export factories.
Most important, they are prostituting American democracy. They are selling out its powers and virtues to build up the world's largest and strongest dictatorship, Communist China. They enable that dictatorship to keep ruling by police power against religious and political dissent and unrest.
For almost 15 years, ever since I began writing a column, the one subject that has moved me most often to hard opposition to U.S. policy has been the determination of one administration after another to use the fruits of American democratic capitalism to build up the the power of Communist China.
Now, in a humiliating attempt to please China further, the Clinton administration and business lobbies, motivated by the mirage of profit, are directing a massively financed campaign to obey Beijing's current order to weaken American power.
The order is to pass legislation that would kill the congressional right to investigate China's war against human rights. These annual investigations never produced the legally permissible American raising of tariffs unless China lessened human rights atrocities. The purpose of China's order is to kill America's right to maintain even the possibility of any economic action against Chinese oppression of its people.
As a foreign correspondent and then as an editor, I supported opening diplomatic relations with China long before the Nixon-Kissinger journey to do so. I hoped, as an anti-communist, that American pressure would force the regime to ease the horrors of the torture cells, maybe even to release some Chinese and Tibetan slaves.
I knew no dictatorship would do that just to be sweet. But the pressure never came. Instead, American administrations and business toadied to Beijing in the name of security and expanding profits. They succeeded for the Chinese.
The security argument is ridiculous. Defense Secretary William Cohen says unless the trade bill eliminating even the possibility of trade penalties for human rights horrors is passed, why, the Chinese would no have no incentive not to transfer arms technology to other countries. That is acknowledgment of Chinese untrustworthiness, since China has already agreed to stop supplying cruise missiles to Iran and other countries hostile to America.
The economic argument is a fraud. The China trade amounts to no more than 2 percent of U.S. foreign business. Americans buy $68 billion more from China than they buy from us mostly jet planes. Motorola and Westinghouse plan to substitute Chinese parts for American parts sent to China. U.S. jobs will be eliminated as foreign markets get supplies from U.S.-owned factories in China.
The big drive in China is to upgrade high-tech factories, where workers' wages are controlled to degradation. Using U.S. investments, according to Alan Tonelson, an American business researcher, the factories will compete with American workers in U.S. plants turning out telecommunication and space equipment, software and so on.
Bill Clinton, of course, Al Gore and George W. Bush all are committed to China and the lobbiests. So is the Senate majority. But the House, often closer to the needs and desires of voters, is still a tossup on next week's final vote.
What can we do, those who are disgusted at the idea of China-dictated U.S. legislation to keep the shaky communist regime alive at the expense of American and Chinese workers and Chinese political and religious dissenters?
Right now, while the paper is in hand, we can call the office of our representatives. I called mine, Democrat Carolyn Maloney, 14th District of New York, and was told she would vote for the China bill. I said I liked her but not as much as I liked American workers fearful of their jobs, or Chinese prisoners who are screaming under electric shock. I had voted for her three times before, but I told her office that I wouldn't vote for her again.
What if her opponent supports the China bill too? I can sit out this congressional election, in hopes that they will remember the votes they lost.
If the bill passes, its supporters will regret the day. The struggle for repeal will not end. And the shame will linger in elections to come, the shame of having supported Communist China's handcuffing of America.

A.M. Rosenthal is the former executive editor of the New York Times.

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