TIME TO FACE THE TRUTH ABOUT CHINA (Senate - June 12, 1997)

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Mr. TORRICELLI. ...

We have learned in the 20th century the painful lesson that nations that may obtain great economic power inevitably translate that economic power into military means, and that military power invites its own use. We have also tragically learned that those nations that rule without the consent of their own people are inherently unstable and inevitably aggressive.

These are truths we do not want to have to recognize. They are facts that I wish could be otherwise, but there is nothing in the history of our time that would lead us to any other conclusion and nothing that can lead us to believe that China in any way will be any different.

Indeed, Mr. President, the record of the Beijing Government, for those who would promote most-favored-nation status and those who do not, for those who seek constructive engagement and those who argue against it, the record is not only remarkably clear but largely indisputable.

In recent years, the Peoples Republic of China has shown little to no regard for commitments that have been made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Missile Control Technology Regime, or the Chemical Weapons Convention. China has had a largely open policy regardless of international commitments or responsible policies of nonsignatories by selling technology of a nuclear and missile basis to Pakistan, Iran, and other governments...

In March 1996, the Beijing Government responded to the first ever free election held by a Chinese people on the island nation of Taiwan by firing missiles off the coast of Taiwan, seeking to intimidate its people and its government...

Finally, its neighbors live in increasing fear of attack. A China that cannot provide for its own people finds the means to build increasing military capability with new technology that it both exports at will and builds to potentially intimidate its neighbors, including the free government of Taiwan...

Mr. President, the simple truth is 8 years have passed since Tiananmen Square. Free expression is not better; it is worse. Respect for the many faiths has not been enhanced; it has deteriorated. Commitment to arms control and a more responsible policy of restricting dangerous technologies for nuclear weapons and missile technologies has not been enhanced; it is also worse.

Mr. President, we do the cause of freedom and the security of our country no benefit by postponing reaching the horrible truth. The 21st century, Mr. President, will be guided by whether or not there is progress in China in respecting her own people and being a responsible member of the international community. This relationship, more than any other in the world, will answer the critical question of whether the 21st century will be more peaceful, more respectful of humankind, and respect human life more than any other single relationship the United States will have with any other nation in the world. The facts would argue that this policy of constructive engagement is not leading us to that different future...

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Mr. President, that is the choice before us. It is not new. It has faced every generation that has ever stood on the floor of this Senate, every generation that ever succeeded the governance of this country. In a few weeks, when most-favored-nation status becomes an issue on the floor of this Senate, it will come again. I urge my colleagues to confront it with wisdom and reality, recognizing the extraordinary consequences for a new time and a new century, which we so desperately want to be different than the past.

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.