March 08,2000

Roth Statement on the Administration's Proposal to Grant China Permanent Normal Trade Relations

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today released the following statement on the President's bill to grant China Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status:

"I am pleased to see that the President has forwarded the PNTR legislation to the Congress and, more particularly, that the President's bill parallels the Finance Committee's thinking in keeping the bill free of extraneous conditions. As I told the President last night at the White House, the Finance Committee will move the process forward as expeditiously as possible.

"On the broader issue of how this legislation fits within the context of our broader relationship with China, I know there are many who oppose the grant of PNTR. Their misgivings are not about the WTO deal itself. The deal is one-sided. China is opening its markets to the world. Gaining access to the Chinese market is critical to our exporters and that's what this legislation assures. What it does not require us to do is grant any further access to our markets. The deal itself is a solid one.

"The critics' concerns focus instead on the how the deal affects other parts of our relationship, like our ability to monitor and encourage changes in human rights practices and China's tolerance for religious freedom. Those are worthy goals that I strongly support. In my view, however, the critics underestimate what China's entry into the WTO means. China's entry into the World Trade Organization augurs profound changes both in China's economic practices and in its society. It is not just a question of accelerating economic reforms or a departure from socialism. These changes mark a profound departure from centuries of Chinese history. China has essentially conceded the fact that their own prospects are directly linked to an open market economy based on the rule of law. In so doing, the Chinese government is also accepting the basic underpinnings of a society based on the rule of law, something that represents a far more profound change than the economic reforms launched by Deng Xiao Ping two decades ago."