In striking the deal, the Clinton Administration squandered a valuable opportunity to pressure the Chinese leadership to meet significant and verifiable improvements in the areas of human rights and labor. The accord cements President Clinton’s 1996 delinkage of trade and human rights into an international agreement. Therefore, the US government or concerned citizens can no longer trigger trade sanctions as a punitive mechanism against China’s abuses of Tibetans, Falun Gong adherents, democracy advocates, or any other dissenting body.
China has proven time and time again to be incapable of playing by the rules. We have justifiable doubts that a Chinese leadership that flaunts abuses of international human rights norms will be responsive to international trade rulings. We have serious concerns that increased foreign investment in China and Tibet will further promote the deluge of Chinese migrants and reckless development on the fragile Tibetan Plateau. We are also skeptical that further opening China’s markets will lead to improvements in the situation for the Tibetan people or other persecuted groups. In fact, Charlene Barshefsky herself has articulated that this is a trade deal – no more, no less.
After the New Year, the Congress will consider its responsibilities to the China-US trade relationship and vote on whether to extend permanent normal trade status to China. Human rights and labor organizations, including ICT, are also considering our responsibilities.
For more information on Tibet related activities at the WTO Ministerials in Seattle November 29 – December 3, contact (206) 464-9192.