March 23,2000

Prominent Chinese Dissidents Support U.S.-China Trade

WASHINGTON -- Two prominent Chinese dissidents today announced their support for trade between the United States and China at a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Wang Dan, a leader of the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, who was imprisoned after the military crackdown on the demonstrators on June 4, 1989 and Wang Juntao, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for being the supposed "Black Hand" behind the demonstrations both gave their written statements to Professor Merle Goldman, who testified about their support before the committee today. Merle Goldman is a professor of Chinese history at Boston University and is the coauthor with John K. Fairbank of the enlarged edition of China: A New History.

Statement by Wang Dan

I support China's entry into the WTO. I feel that this will be beneficial for the long-term future of China because China will thus be required to abide by rules and regulations of the international community. Furthermore, it will allow space for further development within China. However, entry into the WTO will be harmful for the human rights situation in China for the short term because the international community will lose its annual chance to pressure the Chinese government to improve its human rights record. I think the only way to balance this dilemma is to create a new way to put pressure on the Chinese government. I suggest two things. One, the American government should seek to establish a bilateral unofficial dialogue committee with China to discuss the human rights issue on a yearly basis. Second, the Chinese government should be encouraged to sign more international human rights covenants, such as those that give the Chinese people the right to sue the Chinese government in international organizations.

Statement by Wang Juntao
Regarding China's entry into the WTO, I would like to submit the following points:

1. I find that there is no perfect answer to the question of whether or
not China should be admitted. Without the friendly relations between the
two countries, China would never had made such progress during the past
twenty years. On the other hand, international pressure has also been an effective means for making improvements in China.

2. But if one needs to choose between whether or not China should be
admitted, I prefer to choose "Yes." I base this opinion on three facts:

a.) Both fundamental change in the human rights situation and
democratization in China will mainly come from efforts by Chinese within China. The more the relationship between the two countries expands, the
more space there will be for independent forces to grow in China. In an
international environment, independent forces will be more competitive
than the state-owned enterprises. Such independent forces will eventually
push China toward democracy.

b.) The current Chinese government is still pursuing its reform policy.
As the economic situation improves, China will be able to carry out reform
more aggressively and more deeply. Although such reform does not necessarily imply that there will be an immediate and direct political reform, it definitely will produce certain conditions that will be conducive to ultimate democratization.

c.) Since presently most Chinese are mainly interested in material
benefits, they will find any policy that damages their economic interests to be offensive. An overemphasis on economic sanctions will contribute to the growth of nationalism and anti-westernism in China. This will limit both the influence of the U.S. as well as that of the democracy movement in China.

3. Although I basically support China's entry into the WTO, I still respect those Americans who favor sanctions in the hopes of improving the human rights situation in China.