News

USIS Washington File

18 May 2000

Transcript: Clinton, Greenspan Urge "Yes" Vote for China PNTR

(Clinton: "Yes" vote on PNTR will help U.S. security) (1400)

President Clinton appealed to lawmakers May 18 to vote "yes" on the
question of granting permanent Normal Trade Relations (NTR) status to
China.

"If you want to reduce tensions along the Taiwan Strait, if you want a
more stable Asia, if you want to maximize the chances of avoiding
proliferation of dangerous weapons and a new arms race, a 'yes' is the
right vote," Clinton said at the White House, where he presented
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who also spoke in favor of
permanent NTR for China.

"I'm encouraged by the vote in the committees in both Houses,
including both Republican and Democratic members, to overwhelmingly
approve extending permanent normal trade relations with China,"
Clinton said.

"This legislation now goes before the full Congress," he said.
"Momentum is building, but we've still got a challenging fight."

Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan noted that the outcome of the
debate on permanent Normal Trade Relations with China "will have
profound implications for the free world's trading system and the
long-term growth potential of the American economy."

Passage of PNTR, Greenspan said, "will facilitate a further opening of
China's markets to U.S. producers. Accordingly, I believe extending
PNTR to China, and full participation by China in the WTO, is in the
interests of the United States."

Following is the White House transcript of the event:

(begin transcript)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

May 18, 2000

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND FED CHAIRMAN ALAN GREENSPAN ON PERMANENT
NORMAL TRADING RELATIONS WITH CHINA

The Rose Garden

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. It's always good to have Chairman
Greenspan back at the White House, and I'm especially pleased that he
has come today to join me in voicing his support for permanent normal
trade relations with China. We all know that when Chairman Greenspan
talks, the world listens. I just hope that Congress is listening
today.

Many members remain undecided, and we are doing everything we possibly
can to round up each and every potential vote. I'm encouraged by the
vote in the committees in both Houses, including both Republican and
Democratic members, to overwhelmingly approve extending permanent
normal trade relations with China. This legislation now goes before
the full Congress. All the former Presidents support it, along with
former Secretaries of State, Defense, Trade, Transportation, National
Security Advisors, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, religious
leaders, many of the courageous people in China fighting for human
rights and the rule of law.

Momentum is building, but we've still got a challenging fight. I thank
Chairman Greenspan for coming here today, and I'd like for him to say
whatever is on his mind about this issue.

Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN GREENSPAN: Thank you very much, Mr. President. The outcome of
the debate on permanent normal trade relations with China will have
profound implications for the free world's trading system and the
long-term growth potential of the American economy.

Jim Leach, the Chairman of the House Banking Committee, a couple of
weeks ago requested that I share with his committee my perspective on
PNTR for China. Let me read you my response.

"The addition of the Chinese economy to the global marketplace will
result in a more efficient worldwide allocation of resources, and will
raise standards of living in China and its trading partners. Should
China accept the challenge of international competition embodied in
World Trade Organization membership. It will doubtless promote
internal economic development, encourage the adoption of modern
technologies, and contribute to lifting its citizens out of poverty.

History has demonstrated that implicit in any removal of power from
central planners and broadening of market mechanisms, as would occur
under WTO, is a more general spread of rights to individuals. Such a
development will be a far stronger vehicle to foster other individual
rights than other alternative of which I am aware.

Further development of China's trading relationships with the United
States and other industrial countries will work to strengthen the rule
of law within China and to firm its commitment to economic reform.
China's citizens will come to have greater choice about their
lifestyles and employment and to enjoy enhanced access to
communication and information from around the globe.

As China's citizens experience economic gains, so will the American
firms that trade in their expanding markets. China's progress towards
prosperity and accession into the WTO will create new opportunities
for American businesses and farmers. China, with a population of 1.2
billion people, has an economy that when measured -- taking into
account the purchasing power of alternative currencies -- is larger
than that of Japan, and may be approaching half the size of the
American economy.

China's trade now accounts for three percent of world trade, and
should expand further in response to WTO participation. Our markets
are already generally open to China, and that will not be altered by
PNTR. Passage of PNTR, however, will facilitate a further opening of
China's markets to U.S. producers. Accordingly, I believe extending
PNTR to China, and full participation by China in the WTO, is in the
interests of the United States.

Thank you, Mr. President, for having me here today to express my views
on so vital an issue affecting our nation's future.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to
say that, first, I believe that Chairman Greenspan has established a
pretty good record for knowing what is in America's economic interest.
He has once again reiterated, clearly and unambiguously, that this
agreement exchanges membership rights for China in the WTO for
economic opportunities for America in China -- for American businesses
and American workers -- without the tariffs and technology transfer
requirements, and production in China requirements, and other
requirements which have limited our ability to benefit from their
market for too long. So, economically, the case is clear and
compelling.

But I would also like to emphasize here the national security aspects
of this, and the human and political rights aspects. You've heard
Chairman Greenspan address the human and political rights aspects, and
make the point that increasing access to a market economy increases
personal freedom in other ways. I will just cite one example, which is
that China has gone from 2 million to 9 million to 20 million Internet
users over the last three years. And it was exploding again this year;
we do not know where it will be next year. But this is a profoundly
significant thing.

That's why Martin Lee came all the way from Hong Kong. That's why
people who have been, themselves, oppressed in China have pleaded with
us to support this -- because they know getting into a rules-based
system and promoting economic competition will both enhance the march
of liberty and law, and human rights.

The other point I would like to make is, there is a serious national
security issue here. We do not know what China will choose to do in
the future, and China will make that decision for itself. But we know
that one decision will dramatically increase the chances of a
constructive relationship with China in a stable Asia, and the other
will dramatically increase the chances of a less happy outcome. That's
why Japan and Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, our democratic
allies in East Asia, are for this.

If you want to reduce tensions along the Taiwan Strait, if you want a
more stable Asia, if you want to maximize the chances of avoiding
proliferation of dangerous weapons and a new arms race, a "yes" is the
right vote.

Last point: As has been well-documented by those of you in our press,
it is indeed ironic that the only people in China who want this vote
to fail are the more reactionary elements of the military, economic
and political structure, who do not want to give up control, and may
need America as a continuing adversary to maintain that control and
that capacity to repress liberty and human rights.

I believe the issue is profound and clear. And I am grateful for what
Chairman Greenspan has said today.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)