Following the announced US-China WTO trade deal, the International Campaign for Tibet calls on the US Congress to use the forecasted debate on permanent NTR (Normal Trade Relations) status for China to incorporate meaningful human rights conditions into the agreement. Within one year of getting permanent NTR, China should ratify one or both of the two key UN human rights treaties it has signed, agree to meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives on the future of Tibet, and grant a general amnesty to political prisoners charged with “counterrevolutionary” offenses.

Though China’s membership in the WTO could eventually pressure the leadership to open its doors to outside monitoring, today’s announcement sends the wrong signal to Beijing in light of the recent crackdown on public dissident. At a time when China is issuing draconian sentences to Falun Gong adherents and detaining Tibetans for their peaceful demonstrations, the Administration should be pressuring the Chinese to comply with international human rights standards rather than sidelining these concerns to questions of market access.

China’s entry also signals the potential end of government trade sanctions as a viable mechanism to influence China’s position on human rights. It further opens China and Tibet to foreign investment, which has an added danger of promoting more Chinese migration into Tibetan areas and may challenge efforts for appropriate development designed to benefit local Tibetan people.