- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2012

China has done nothing to end trade practices that favor Chinese enterprises at the expense of U.S. workers and businesses, says a report by a congressional commission.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China also finds that Chinese leaders have been preoccupied with a political scandal and leadership transition and have ignored growing calls for reform.

“The report shows China doing nothing to improve compliance with its [World Trade Organization] obligations and commercial rule of law, whether it be stopping currency manipulation or dismantling quotas, subsidies, and other unfair trading practices that favor Chinese enterprises at the expense of our workers and businesses,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat and commission co-chairman.

China’s unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation, contribute enormously to our growing trade deficit with China. The trade deficit reportedly has cost us millions of jobs, many in our manufacturing sector,” he added.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and commission chairman, said: “When the Chinese government denies Chinese workers the right to organize independent labor unions, Chinese wages stay low, and Chinese factories slight workplace safety. This places American products and workers, who can compete with anyone, at a disadvantage.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing as saying the U.S. should stop issuing “groundless remarks” against China.

Over the past year, China has been embroiled in a political scandal involving Bo Xilai, a former Communist Party leader who is accused of abuse of power and corruption. His wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence in August for murdering a British national.

The scandal has cast a shadow over China’s political transition, which is expected to begin in November.

The commission said it observed a “deepening disconnect between the growing demands of the Chinese people and the Chinese government’s ability and desire to meet such demands.”

“In a year marked by a major internal political scandal and leadership transition, Chinese officials appeared more concerned with ‘maintaining stability’ and preserving the status quo than with addressing the grassroots calls for reform taking place all over China,” it added.

The commission said Congress and President Obama must press China to strengthen the rule of law, engage in dialogue with ethnic minorities, enhance transparency and release political prisoners, including Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, his wife, Liu Xia, and rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

Mr. Liu was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” He took part in the pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and was a lead author of a 2008 manifesto for human rights in China. He is under house arrest.

In April, activist Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer, fled house arrest in Shandong province to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. He is now in the U.S.

Mr. Chen and his wife, Yuan Weijing, had documented incidents of forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong in an attempt to challenge the country’s one-child policy.

“The daring escape of the self-taught blind activist Chen Guangcheng in April exemplified the courage of the Chinese people and the lengths they will go to secure their rights,” Mr. Smith said.

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