Administration Warns of Imposing Conditions on China
Jun. 12, 1991
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Any move by Congress to impose conditions on normal trade ties with China ''inevitably will lead ... to the cutoff of the relationship'' with the United States, Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said Wednesday.
Eagleburger and Secretary of State James A. Baker III took a hard line in favor of extending most-favored-nation trade status for China as they laid out the administration's most comprehensive policy statement so far in the debate over U.S. policy toward Beijing.
President Bush said May 27 that he was seeking to renew China's trade status, which affords the lowest possible tariffs to its imports. The move revived his longest-running foreign policy dispute with Congress.
Before the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee, Eagleburger rejected congressional suggestions that the administration accept human rights or other policy conditions on MFN status.
And he and Baker said the administration was using other tools to pressure the Chinese in the areas of trade imbalances and weapons proliferation.
Baker told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that delivery of Chinese surface-to-surface missiles to Syria and Pakistan would have ''grave consequences'' on relations between the United States and Beijing. Under Secretary Reginald Bartholomew, Baker said, will reiterate that stance when he visits China this weekend.
The secretary of state also told senators that U.S. bans on loans and on sales of military and sensitive technology remain in effect two years after Chinese students demonstrating for democracy were overrun by military troops in Tiananmen Square.
But while the administration was publicly resisting attaching conditions to China's MFN status, other administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity conceded that such conditions may well be needed eventually to mollify congressional opposition.
''We firmly believe that renewing China's MFN waiver, without conditions, provides our best instrument for promoting positive change and U.S. interests in China,'' Eagleburger told the House panel.
At the same time, members of Congress turned up the heat on Bush.
The House Appropriations Committee voted to link MFN status to the abortion issue. On an amendment by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the panel said $20 million earmarked in the foreign aid bill for the United Nations Population Fund can be cut off only if China loses its normal trade status.
The amendment was approved on a 30-19 vote.
And Rep. Stephen Solarz, D-N.Y., spelled out a list of conditions he said could represent an eventual compromise with the White House. The conditions included amnesty and clemency for pro-democracy activists and a full accounting of those detained, and ''significant progress'' toward political freedom and human rights.
Such an approach could satisfy lawmakers' concerns and at the same time give Bush broad flexibility, Solarz said. Unconditional renewal would only signal China's leaders that ''progress on human rights is unnecessary,'' he said.
The issue of China's trade status also crept into a House floor debate on a bill authorizing foreign aid spending for the coming year.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., sought to strike $20 million from the bill for the population fund because the agency operates in China, where the government has a one-child-per-family policy.
Smith said the policy leads to forced abortions, and that U.S. funds therefore would be indirectly used to pay for abortions overseas.
But opponents contended those who disapprove of China's family planning policy should instead ''go after China in a real way, where we know they will feel it - and that's to go after MFN.''
The House voted 234-188 to preserve funding for the U.N. agency, a move the White House has warned would tempt a presidential veto for the overall aid bill.