MFN STATUS WITH CHINA (Senate - July 16, 1997)

[Page: S7620]

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, tomorrow we will be voting on Senator Hutchinson's amendment with regard to most-favored-nation status with China.

I intend tomorrow to vote for the amendment offered by my friend from Arkansas, Senator Hutchinson. I would like to emphasize, however, first and foremost, that this is a sense-of-the-Senate resolution. It is not binding. It does not in any way alter or reverse the President's decision to extend most-favored-nation trading status with China. As we all know, the House of Representatives already has voted against a resolution revoking China's MFN status.

So, Mr. President, this amendment is more a chance to make a statement--frankly, for me, a chance to express my frustration with certain activities taken by the Chinese Government.

Let there be no misunderstanding. I believe that China needs to reassess its actions in a number of areas because I believe Congress--certainly this Senator--is losing patience.

Let me be a bit more specific. I am very concerned first about China's weapons proliferation activities particularly in the Middle East. In the past 2 years, it has been reported in the media that China has supplied Pakistan with key components to develop its own nuclear weapons program as well as ballistic missiles to deliver such weapons. China also has been the source for Iran's growing cruise missile capability, which poses a clear threat to our military personnel and commercial shippers in the Persian Gulf.

Further, I am concerned about Chinese state-owned companies knowingly supplying assault weapons to criminal gangs in California. Representatives of these companies were arrested in a sting operation just last year and are now awaiting trial in California. I am very concerned about repeated human rights violations throughout China as well as religious persecution and religious repression.

I am very concerned about the hideous practices of forced abortions and sterilization in China. I am concerned about the possible reversal of various political liberties such as free speech and assembly in Hong Kong.

These are all very serious issues, and I believe that we need to take action to try to address each one. My vote tomorrow in favor of this sense-of-the-Senate resolution will be an expression of these concerns. However, I believe there are far more effective ways to demonstrate our commitment to these issues than just the sense of the Senate before us. I suggest if we truly want to address all these issues constructively, we should bring before the Senate legislation that is targeted for its clear solutions.

For example, the Senate recently passed legislation offered by my colleague who just spoke a moment ago, the distinguished Senator from Utah, Mr. Bennett, which calls on our President to enforce our Nation's nonproliferation laws against China for its efforts to supply Iran with cruise missiles. I was a cosponsor of this legislation, which, by the way, passed the Senate unanimously.

We can do more. We could and we should bring before the Senate the legislation that was introduced by my colleague from Pennsylvania, Senator Specter, legislation which would impose penalties on countries guilty of supporting or tolerating religious persecution, and I am a proud cosponsor of this bill.

We should bring before the Senate the legislation introduced by the Senator from Michigan, Mr. Abraham, which would impose targeted sanctions against China in cases of religious persecution and against Chinese companies for illegal weapons transfers into the United States.

This bill would also increase United States support for human rights and democracy-building initiatives in China, including Radio Free Asia and the National Endowment for Democracy. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation as well.

If we truly want to take strong, constructive action in regard to China, the options are clearly before us. The sense-of-the-Senate resolution before us is not the best way to address all of the issues of concern we have with China, but it is, I believe, helpful to send a signal to the Government of China that the people of the United States are genuinely concerned about the direction China has taken in a number of areas. Again, it is just a signal. But we should use the opportunity to make this signal strong and very clear.

I believe, as I have stated, that we can do much more, more that is constructive and more that I believe can make a real and positive difference for the people of China. I hope in the weeks and months ahead we will take these actions.