House Passes PNTR Status for China
(May 25, 2000) The House voted to authorize extension of permanent normal trade relations status to the People's Republic of China, on a roll call vote of 237 to 197, on May 24.
Since 1979 the U.S. has been granting the People's Republic of China normal trade relations status (formerly called "most favored nation" status) on a one year basis. The bill passed by the House, HR 4444, extends permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status.
U.S.-China Bilateral Agreement. [PDF copy in Sen. Max Baucus' web site.]
The U.S. and China entered into a sweeping trade agreement last November which called for the U.S. to extend to China PNTR status.
The Senate plans to take up PNTR legislation in June. Supporters of the measure have predicted easy passage in the Senate.
The Clinton administration supports PNTR status for China. Secretary of
Commerce William Daley lead to administration's efforts in support of the
measure. USTR Charlene Barshefsky and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger
also worked for passage.
Much of the floor debate focused on jobs for Americans, and human rights in China. Rep. Bill Archer (R-TX), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and sponsor of HR 4444, led off the debate on Wednesday, May 24.
"Much of this debate has focused on exports, on crops and computers and cars and other material goods, and they are important," said Rep. Archer. "But the greatest American exports to China are those yet to come, the freedom of choice and the freedom of opportunity. ... History has shown us that no government can withstand the power of individuals who are driven by the taste of freedom and the rewards of opportunity."
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) argued the contrary. "We have been told that if we engage with China, that we will liberalize China. We will make them more like us. They will become more Democratic. It has gone the opposite direction. We have been dealing with gangsters, and right now we are talking about putting gangsters into the chamber of commerce."
Rep. Rohrabacher also compared granting PNTR status to China to appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s. "We remember Neville Chamberlain as the man who gave away Czechoslovakia to Hitler and Munich, but we do not remember what Neville Chamberlain did in the years prior to Munich when Hitler had taken over Nazi Germany. Neville Chamberlain led up to Munich by creating an economic task force designed to invest in Germany so that the Germans would have so many economic ties they would never think of violating the peace. It reads almost verbatim the argument that we are getting today."
Some members addressed the relationship between PNTR status for China and the Internet. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) stated in a release that "Trade and commerce lead directly to progress and freedom. The most effective way to influence change in China is to engage the Chinese government in ways that emphasize open trade and democratic reform. The Internet revolution has eliminated economic and political barriers throughout the world. With 8.9 million Internet users and over 15,000 web sites already based within China, the Internet has the potential to offer a dramatic improvement in the quality of life for millions of Chinese citizens."
|Breakdown of Vote on HR 4444
May 24, 2000
See, Roll Call Vote 228
The vote on HR 4444 was bipartisan; however, support was stronger among Republicans. 164 Republicans and 73 Democrats voted in favor. 57 Republicans and 138 Democrats voted against.
The House Democratic leadership opposed the bill. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) voted against. However, the third ranking Democrat, Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX), voted in favor. The House Republican leadership supported the bill.
Most of the members of the House who are active on high tech issues, and supportive of high-tech, voted yes. The members from Silicon Valley and surrounding areas voted in favor of the measure. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA), and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) all voted yes.
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), and Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA), whose Seattle area districts are home to many Microsoft and other high-tech company workers, all voted yes.
Rep. James Moran (D-VA) and Tom Davis (R-VA), from northern Virginia, both voted yes. So did Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is a Co-Chairman of the Internet Caucus.
One notable exception was Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), another Co-Chairman of the Internet Caucus, who voted against the bill.
High tech groups supported the bill, and lobbied for its passage. "The global village just got smaller," said Harris Miller, President of the Information Technology Association of America. China is a $48 billion marketplace for technology products, growing at a compound annual rate of 30 percent over the last seven years. Today's historic bi-partisan vote will mean more jobs for American workers, new customers for the U.S. technology industry, and better information and communications for the people of China,"
After the vote the Business Software Alliance released a statement. "Today’s vote represents an unprecedented victory for the high tech industry, the American workforce, and the citizens of China. In approving PNTR status for China, the House of Representatives has paved the way for a better, more informed China. Technology fuels communication, and communication fuels change. The Internet will foster ideas and communication in China, hence, it is critical that the U.S. high tech industry be granted full access to this market to ensure that the Internet does thrive."
"The number of Chinese Internet users quadrupled in 1999 and is expected
to more than double again by the end of the year. By making this status
permanent, as with all other major U.S. trading partners, American high tech
companies will be better able to tap into this new economic opportunity which
will further boost the expansion of electronic commerce around the globe."
|U.S. and China Reach Trade Agreement, 11/16/00.|
|Clinton Says Trade Deal and Internet Will Reform China, 3/9/00.|
|Baucus Predicts Passage of PNTR Status for China, 5/6/00.|