House Ways and Means Committee and the
Senate Committee on Finance approved a bill that would grant PNTR — permanent, normal trade relations — with China. Right now, our Congress is preparing to take a final vote on the matter.
|Johnny Chung and China’s Vice-Premier Li Lanqing, the man in charge of foreign trade, meet at Zhong Nan Hai (the Chinese “White House”), Beijing, China, May 1995.|
PNTR opens the door for China to join the
Organization — the ruling agency over international trade. It will be an historical vote for our congressional representatives, and historians will judge the merit of their actions for future generations. But this generation of Americans will judge them in November.
The left and the right, the Republicans and the Democrats, are all fighting over this China trade bill. Neither side has the 218 votes needed to claim victory yet.
My question is: If this deal is so sweet, why hasn’t everyone come on board?
Here it is, ladies and gentlemen — this is what it’s all about: Money talks and so do votes. Lobbyists who favor the deal are pressuring legislators by dangling donations in front of them, and union members who disapprove of it threaten to send their representatives packing at the ballot box.
Let’s take a look at both sides of the issue. To approve or not to approve? I know of one sure-fire way to find the answer, and that is to follow the money. Who are the people approving this deal? China has a population of 1.2 billion. That’s a huge market. American agricultural businessmen say their products — soy beans, corn, apples, etc. — will benefit greatly from that market and create a lot of job opportunities.
American farmers say they will have more beef and pork exports to feed the huge country. Also, if each person in China eats two eggs a day, then we will need a lot of grain to feed the chickens that are laying the eggs. That means increased production, which means more work, which means more jobs.
|Former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, China’s former Minister of Foreign Trade We Yi and Johnny Chung|
Robert Vagley, president of the
American Insurance Association said the insurance market in the U.S. is $14.3 billion. If only one quarter of the Chinese population were to enter that market, it could rise to $736.8 billion. If China continues to develop and become more modernized, the market has the potential to increase to $1.2 trillion — and that’s just one industry.
The Internet market is another boom. Indeed, some geniuses developed the Internet, and it has grown exponentially. It has no borders between countries. According to the New York Times and the Washington Post, in the next five years, Chinese-speaking Internet users will be increased dramatically to equal more than the users of Canada, the U.S. and Japan combined. Normalized trade relations would only help the Internet market in China.
And we can’t forget about the benefits the Internet has brought to freedom of the press. The Chinese government definitely tries to control everything it can, but Chinese Internet users are even smarter then their government; they know how to get around it. After all, Chinese people want to have freedom of the press. They can use the Internet to help make that happen.
The press is a tool used by investors in the stock exchange. If China has a free press through the Internet, the Chinese stock exchange will improve. That will be good for American investors.
Then there’s always the argument of resignation with regard to the country’s human rights violations. “We’ve been annually approving trade relations with China for 19 years,” cry supporters. “They haven’t changed anything, and they’re not going to. Just give it to them.”
A weak argument at best
One of the main forces in opposition of the China trade deal is labor. Union leaders are doing whatever they can to kill the bill. Steel workers and the AFL-CIO, who are normally working closely with the White House, disagree with our president. If this bill is passed, they say, American laborers will lose a lot of jobs to cheap labor in China.
Many people appeal to our humanity in arguing against approval. There are human rights issues. There are workers’ rights issues. There are freedom of religion issues.
Dissenters are put into labor camps for “retraining,” and mothers are forced to abort their children in the name of population control. Adherents to any faith other than the state approved “Church of the Patriots” are persecuted and even jailed.
I know from first-hand experience there is no real freedom of religion in China. When I was in the Chinese countryside during one of my visits from America, one of the Chinese pastors asked me for my Bible.
I said, “You have to give me good reason why I should give you my 40th birthday present from my wife.”
Indeed, he gave me a good reason. He said, “We have 3,000 members without a single Bible. We worship the Lord Jesus Christ in the countryside, in fear of government retaliation.”
Needless to say, I gave it to him.
When I saw him six months later, I asked how he liked the Bible. He smiled at me and said it had been torn apart, page-by-page, and the pages were distributed to church members. That way, if anyone was caught, the church would only lose one page. They could still pass the remaining pages around and continue to read them.
On another occasion in 1995, while my family and I were visiting China, my wife said she wanted to take the kids to church. My Chinese contact there took my family to a government-controlled church — the only type of church approved in China. When my wife and kids went into the church building, they felt like aliens from outer space. Everyone looked at them so strangely.
All that was said revolved around how patriotic they should be. There was not one word spoken about the Bible. After three minutes, my wife left. She shouted to me, “Honey, this is not a church! This is political propaganda!”
We must demand that China comply with basic human rights. If you want to play the game, you have to play by the rules. After all, we, as Americans, care about our own hard-working laborers. They are our brothers, sisters, mothers and daughters. They need good, decent jobs, and they work hard for their families.
I remember when I was young, growing up in Taiwan, the Chinese communist government would say anything to attract investments from Taiwanese businessmen. Officials would use China’s large population as a hook.
|Johnny Chung, center, was given a tour of China Petro by officials seeking his assistance to raise substantial capital investments.|
“If we need toothbrushes, then we need 1.2 billion toothbrushes,” they would say.
Taiwanese businessmen were used as political tools by the Chinese government, which was trying to control them. China used the money as political leverage. If businessmen supported the wrong candidates in Taiwan, they would lose their investments.
The initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange of
China Petro — the nation’s largest, government-owned oil industry — was a fiasco. In 1996, the oil company asked me to raise capital for one of their biggest subsidiary companies in northern China. They told me how sweet the deal was, and that they were willing to give me 49 percent if I could raise a big chunk of money for them. But when I looked at their books, I thought, “What a mess!”
A company official said, “We can fix that.”
I was also told they would buy 5 million barrels of crude oil from me for the next 10 years. So I signed the deals — one for part ownership and one for the sales agreement.
Of course, I later found out it was all an empty promise.
|Johnny Chung signing the China Petro contract that officials never honored.|
American businessmen should ask themselves, “If Johnny Chung, who speaks the language and knows the culture, was eaten alive by the Chinese, what will they do to Americans?”
I’ll tell you what they’ll do: They will suck the life-blood out of you, eat you up, and not even leave the bones.
People who know China well disapprove of this deal. Yesterday, Chinese dissidents in the United States formed a human chain around the capitol building to send a message to our Congress: Do not approve this deal.
A lot of people say a richer China will compromise American security. They will make money from us, and they will use it to buy more technology from us. What happened in 1996 in the Chinagate scandal, with Chinese officials trying to influence our elections and taking our nuclear secrets, was just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s an old Chinese saying, “If you want to defeat your enemy, show him you are weak, not strong.”
That’s exactly the tactic they are using over and over again. America has thousands of nuclear bombs and China has less than 40, said China’s President Jiang Zhe Ge-min. China can’t compete with us, he said. China is weak.
“That’s not fair,” they cry, yet they still harass us.
“If the U.S. comes to the aid of Taiwan, Americans should start worrying more about the safety of their own cities, like Los Angeles, rather than the cities in Taiwan,” they threaten.
Los Angeles is my hometown!
I made my first trip back to China in August of 1994 with the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. After 20 subsequent trips, meeting more than 2,000 businessmen and government officials, I can tell you most of the Chinese officials I met did not like President Clinton. Then suddenly, in 1996, their opinion of him changed.
Even the former military intelligence director, Gen. Gi Sheng-de, said to me, “We like your president. We would like to see him re-elected.”
From 1996 to the present, I have really focused on Chinese-American relations. I cannot stop wondering why everything the Chinese government asks for, this president — our president — always delivers. I cannot help but wonder if our president is in China’s back pocket.
And it’s not just Clinton. Al Gore is also pro-China. Something happened between 1994 and 1996 that caused a change in China’s attitude and this administration’s actions.
The Chinagate issue is very embarrassing for the U.S. and China. Both China’s President Jiang and Premier Ghu said they would fully cooperate with the U.S. government and Congress in the investigation of Chinagate. That was three years ago. According to what I know, they have done nothing to cooperate.
If China was really cooperating, why, out of 122 participants in the scandal, was I the only person who gave my Hong Kong banking records to Congress voluntarily? Not one page of evidence was provided to our Congress by the Chinese government or the Bank of China — a government-owned banking institution.
Bill Clinton talks more like a Chinese government leader than an American president. They all speak the same language. That’s why I’m asking you, my fellow Americans, whether you really believe this is good deal for our country or not.
How can we possibly be sure the Chinese communist leaders will honor their contract as Americans honor ours? I can tell you from personal experience that they won’t. They will sign whatever they need to sign and then take whatever they want. They won’t honor any contracts.
The only time a tiger cannot bite you is when he has meat in his mouth. Let’s not give all the meat away at one time. Let’s feed them one year at a time.