- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Once again, the United States has bowed to the Chinese. President Bush has rewarded China with another year of favorable trade status, hoping that the world's most populous country will agree to open its markets. Meanwhile, as the U.S.-China trade imbalance approaches $100 billion this year, China has increased its military aggression, continues to abuse human rights and persecutes people of faith.
On May 29, Mr. Bush declared, "Open trade is a force for freedom in China, a force for stability in Asia and a force for prosperity in the United States." The president hopes that China will take the steps necessary to join the World Trade Organization. China's membership in the 140-member organization was expected in the wake of last year's congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations, but that status is only permanent once China actually joins the WTO. China's WTO accession process is bogged down in disputes over its plans to reduce agricultural subsidies and its reluctance to open its banking system and state-owned industries to foreign competition.
Congress could overrule the president and deny China normal trade status, but that's unlikely. Currently, only Cuba and North Korea do not enjoy normal trading relations with the United States.
On May 31, the State Department hosted a China policy briefing for Washington-based think tanks. James Keith, director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs, outlined the administration's China policy, making clear that the administration would continue the Clinton administration's policy of engagement. On June 1, Secretary of State Colin Powell echoed this position in The Washington Post, stating: "It is fundamentally in our national interest to extend normal trade relations ." Mr. Powell added that the president's decision is not an endorsement of China's policies, instead claiming that it provides "America an opportunity to promote rule of law, transparency and accountability in China."
In spite of the administration's efforts to put a good face on a troubled relationship, Congress should consider China's recent actions before approving renewal of the favorable trade relationship. There is less evidence today that China is changing for the better than there was last year when the House granted permanent normal trade relations by a 237-197 vote.
The Chinese regime continues coercive policies that include mandatory IUD insertion, mandatory sterilization, and forced abortion. Its "one child per family policy" has led to the selective abortion of girl, and to infanticide of large numbers of female babies. Last year's Chinese census figures show there are 117 boys born for every 100 girls. Overall, Chinese researchers say, there are 41 million more males than females in the country. The sex imbalance is giving rise to more crime among millions of marriage-age men who are forced to remain single and to a booming trade in kidnapped foreign women.
The communists still discriminate, harass, incarcerate and torture people on the basis of their religion. Last week, the Communist regime stepped up its campaign to bring all of China's unregistered house churches under government control. An Associated Press report states, "Police have detained 35 Christians in northern China for worshipping outside the official church, and sentenced 15 of them to labor camps."
China's repression is not limited to its own citizens. A growing number of overseas Chinese scholars, writers and businessmen, including at least five U.S. citizens, have been detained during visits in recent months. Two U.S. citizens, Li Shaomin and Wu Jianmim, are in custody for allegedly spying for Taiwan.
Over the past year, China has stepped up its military aggression. On April 1, a U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance airplane was intercepted and seriously damaged in a collision with a hot-dogging Chinese fighter during a routine patrol over the South China Sea. Our 24-member crew was detained for 11 days after the EP-3 pilot managed to land the damaged airplane on Hainan Island. Our aircraft, picked clean of intelligence, still sits on a Chinese airfield awaiting disassembly and evacuation home.
As a prelude to what many predict will be massive war games opposite democratic Taiwan, China has canceled the long-standing practice of allowing port calls by U.S. naval vessels. Beijingnews.com, a state-owned Web site, says the main goals of the exercises are to practice "attacking and occupying Taiwanese island and fighting off an aircraft carrier."
These war games could be the largest since the confrontation between the United States and China in 1996 when China fired unarmed missiles near Taiwan's two ports, prompting the United States to send two aircraft carrier battle groups to the Taiwan Straits. On May 30, Zhang Mingqing, spokesman for China's office of Taiwan affairs, said, "Undoubtedly, these exercises have a definite purpose." On the same day, the People's Liberation Army Daily warned that the Bush administration's policies "will pull the U.S. and the rest of the world into the nightmare of war."
The Bush administration and Congress may not be looking for a fight over China, but last year's favorable trade action has done nothing to improve that regime's human rights record or limit its military threats. Congress should thoroughly re-evaluate our relationship with China before extending favorable trade.

Robert L Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is the Family Research Council's vice president for policy.

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