UNITED STATES-CHINA RELATIONS (Senate - October 23, 1997)

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Mr. ABRAHAM. Mr. President, I rise today to address the direction of our country's relationship with the People's Republic of China. As we speak, the Clinton administration is busily preparing for next week's state visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin. A state visit is the most formal and ceremonial diplomatic event hosted by the United States. It involves champagne receptions and flattering toasts.

While United States-Chinese relations are crucial and important for both countries, I believe it would be inappropriate for President Clinton to welcome the Chinese leader in a state visit at this time.

The United States, the world's leading free nation, should not give a red carpet welcome to China's Communist leadership until we see greater strides on human rights, religious freedom and other issues in that country. Rather than a ceremonial visit, we should be holding a working visit with the Chinese leadership, concentrating on the very real issues which exist between our two nations.

In my view, the President should put specific demands on the Chinese leadership, calling for improved human rights policies and an end to weapons proliferation.

Mr. President, China's record of human rights abuses and repression of religious faith is long and disturbing.

Peaceful advocates of democracy and political reforms have been sentenced to long terms in prisons where they have been beaten, tortured, and denied needed medical care.

Women pregnant with their second or third child have been coerced into abortions.

Religious meeting places have been forcibly closed.

Tibetan monks refusing to condemn their religious leader, the Dalai Lama, have been forced from their monasteries; some of their leaders have disappeared.

The President's own State Department Report on Human Rights confirms these allegations.

And recent claims by the Chinese Government that Catholics in particular are few in number and not mistreated have been directly contradicted by the Vatican.

According to the Vatican news agency, Chinese reports simply ignore the existence of 8 million Catholics loyal to the Pope, as well as China's violent actions in closing down secret churches and arresting religious leaders.

China also has engaged in weapons proliferation that endangers our national security.

Although China signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agreed to abide by the terms of the Missile Technology Control Regime in 1992, violations of both agreements continue. Especially worrisome are Chinese sales of weapons technologies to countries which are trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, countries which America regards as rogue nations.

Chinese weapons exports also have more directly threatened Americans here on United States soil. Companies associated with China's Communist People's Liberation Army the PLA, have been caught attempting to sell smuggled assault weapons to street gangs in Los Angeles.

The Clinton administration's response to these dangerous actions, in my judgment, has been inadequate to say the least.

Last December, the administration welcomed China's Defense Minister, Gen. Chi Haotian, to Washington. Mr. Chi was one of the People's Liberation Army officers who led the military assault against the citizens of the Chinese capital on June 4, 1989--the massacre in Tiananmen Square.

Now the administration wants to welcome President Jiang with pomp and circumstance. These actions indicate that, where China is concerned, what we have is not a policy of constructive engagement, but one of unconditional engagement.

By agreeing to this state visit without receiving any significant concession on human rights, religious freedom and weapons proliferation, the administration may be squandering its strongest source of leverage with Beijing.

None of this is to recommend cutting off all dialog between the United States and China. Again, I would not object to having a visit for working-level purposes. But I feel the symbolism of a state visit is inappropriate given the current situation in China and our fundamental disagreements.

For this reason, I have cosponsored a resolution, with Senators Feingold and Helms, to downgrade the upcoming event from a state visit to a working visit. And I urge my colleagues to cosponsor this resolution as well.

We must work, Mr. President, to put United States-China relations on a more substantive basis. And that requires hard work and tough negotiations.

The President must call for specific actions on the part of the Chinese leadership that will improve that country's treatment of its own people and stop its destabilizing activities in the world at large.

According to the Wall Street Journal, `[China] doesn't plan to discuss issues such as human rights' at this upcoming conference. A Chinese Embassy spokesman even said `we do not welcome' advice on such matters.

But, welcome or not, President Clinton must insist that China's leaders address crucial issues like human rights. Indeed, in my view, the administration has a moral duty to press a whole host of issues on the Chinese Government that it may not welcome, but that are of great importance to the people of China, to the United States, and to the world.

Specifically, I believe President Clinton should demand:

First, that the Chinese Government dismantle nonreciprocal tariff and nontariff barriers to American exports to China, and stop the continued export to the United States of products made with prison labor;

Second, that the Chinese Government cease persecuting Chinese Christians, as well as members of other religious faiths, and release all persons incarcerated for their religious or other human rights related activities;

Third, that China end its coercive family planning practices, including its practice of forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide;

Fourth, that the Chinese Government stop its activities leading to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and advanced ballistic missile technology; and

Fifth, that the Chinese Government stop its evasion of United States export control and other laws.

Mr. President, by making these demands on the Chinese Government, the President would put in place the structure needed for a coherent China policy; a policy aimed at protecting our national interests and improving human rights conditions in China.

In addition, I believe it is crucial that the President express his determination to uphold and fully implement the Taiwan Relations Act. This act provides the framework for strong economic and security relations between the United States and the democratic government of Taiwan. Full implementation will show our commitment to freedom in the Asian-Pacific region.

If no progress is made through these means, Mr. President, Congress must act. If the Chinese leadership is not willing to make significant reforms on its own, we must pass legislation targeting its improper activities.

In preparation for that contingency, I have joined with a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the China Policy Act of 1997.

This legislation will set in motion a policy that will encourage the Chinese Government to reform its human rights policies, and end its sales of arms and weapons technology to renegade regimes like Iran.

To begin with, Mr. President, the bill contains targeted sanctions aimed directly at Chinese companies that engage in weapons and weapons technology proliferation.

The bill would institute targeted sanctions against PLA companies found to have engaged in weapons proliferation, illegal importation of weapons to the United States or military or political espionage in the United States. The U.S. Government also would publish a list of other PLA-controlled companies.

This would allow American companies and consumers to decide whether they wish to purchase products manufactured in whole or in part by the Communist Chinese Army.

As important, the bill includes provisions to encourage internal liberalization and cultural exchanges between our two countries. It would increase funding for international broadcasting to China, including Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America.

It also would increase funding for National Endowment for Democracy and the United States Information Agency student, cultural, and legislative exchange programs in China.

The bill would contain a variety of other provisions likewise aimed at trying to address the concerns on a targeted basis, Mr. President, as opposed to the approach which has been taken, in my judgment, for too long, an approach which has focused exclusively on the issue of most-favored-nation treaty status with respect to the relationship between the United States and China.

I think the proper way to address the concerns that many of us have is to focus on the specific concerns themselves and to impose, if appropriate, sanctions with regard to those concerns on a targeted basis.

I firmly believe that it is America's duty as well as our interest to make the extra effort required to promote freedom and democracy in China and to integrate her into the community of nations.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution and I call on the President to demand that the Government of the People's Republic of China bring itself into compliance with international standards on human rights and religious freedom.

Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

The clerk will call the roll.

The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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Mr. BOND. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Abraham). Without objection, it is so ordered.

END