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During the month that we are observing the 30th anniversary of
landing men on the moon, it is appropriate, not only to look at our
accomplishments, but to decide whether this country still has the “right
stuff.” By right stuff, I’m not referring simply to the technology
capable of doing great things, but the inner core that is necessary to
do the right thing.

The United States was founded by men who risked everything they
owned. Many gave their lives to give us the freedom we now enjoy,
believing that man was created with certain inalienable rights that must
not be denied or ignored. For the better part of two centuries, we have
stood on that principle. Now it seems we stand for freedom, democracy
and basic human rights only when it is to our economic advantage to do
so.

Surely our forefathers would be appalled to see our treatment of the
People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, the little country that lies some
100 miles off the coast of China that was separated from the mainland in
a civil war 50 years ago. Our country has supported a “One China”
policy. For the first 30 years we recognized Taipei as the rightful
government of China. However, for the last 20 years we have pretended
that Beijing is somehow the government of Taiwan. Now that Taiwan’s
president, Lee Teng-hui, has burst that bubble, we are forced to deal
with the reality of the situation and we are not dealing with it very
well.

Two weeks ago, President Lee publicly stated what political leaders
around the world have been afraid to admit for a half century. His
government is not a rebellious province of the People’s Republic of
China and cannot be treated as such for negotiations with the mainland
to be meaningful. Although Lee acknowledged that his country as well as
the leaders of the People’s Republic would like to have Taiwan and China
reunited, this is not a reality. It cannot be a reality under communist
rule, and dialogue will serve no purpose unless these two countries can
meet on an equal footing.

Beijing promptly responded by flexing its nuclear muscles. A sharply
worded commentary in the military’s Liberation Army Daily warned
that the country’s armed forces were ready to enforce Beijing’s policy
to attack Taiwan, if necessary, to uphold China’s claim to the island.

Ironically, the Clinton administration is trying to make Taiwan the
villain here. The man who won the White House by criticizing President
Bush for “coddling dictators” is doing his best to appease Red China
with its 1.3 billion people, instead of restating our commitment to see
that democratic Taiwan, with its 21 million people, is not swallowed up
by its communist adversary.

Clearly our president doesn’t have the right stuff. What about
members of Congress? Ben Gilman, the chairman of the U.S. House of
Representatives International Relations Committee, has vowed to curtail
all U.S. arms sales abroad until the White House stops “undercutting
Taiwan’s national security.”

However, the real test for members of the House will be on Tuesday
when they will have an opportunity to vote for H.J. Res. 57 to
disapprove the renewal of China’s Most-Favored Nation trading status,
which last year was deceptively renamed “Normal Trade Relations.” There
is nothing normal or favorable to us in our trading arrangement with
China which places a 35 percent tariff on most U.S. goods, while the tax
on Chinese goods entering our country is from zero to 2 percent. Is it
any wonder that our trading deficit with China last year was a whopping
$57 billion?

Does Congress have the right stuff to resist the pressure from
American businessmen who are willing to give millions of dollars in
campaign contributions to keep this inequitable arrangement in place?
Almost none of American business interests in China involve selling U.S.
products to the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens who barely can afford the
air they breathe. It involves exploiting the world’s cheapest labor.
Clearly American businessmen and businesswomen do not have the right
stuff because much of the manufacturing is done by Christian men and
women who have been thrown into the dreadful Chinese laogai for no other
reason than worshiping their God. There they become slaves for the
government, where they are forced to work long hours, even seven days a
week, simply for the right to eat.

Sadly, the last couple of years it wasn’t the greedy businessmen who
caused the bill that might have ended China’s trading arrangement to go
down in flames. It was some of this country’s most respected religious
leaders who have ministries that cooperate with Beijing’s brutal
leaders. You see, even many of our big name religious leaders no longer
have the right stuff. However, before we condemn them, we need to
examine our own market baskets, which are loaded to the brim with cheap
Chinese goods.

Until we end this present arrangement with China, we must recognize
that none of us have the right stuff, and that the United States is no
longer a force for what is right and good in the world, but a shadow of
her former self.

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