14 November 1999
Accession Can Fast-track China's Development of the Rule of Law
The Democratic Party of Hong Kong has long supported
China's WTO accession. In a letter sent this week to the US President,
Chairman Martin Lee underscored the importance to China's long term
development that the current discussions succeed. He also offers Hong
Kong Democrats' assistance in ratification should the negotiations reach a
Attachment: Martin Lee’s letter to President Clinton
dated November 14, 1999
For inquiries, please call Winnie Kwok at 9216-3454.
William J. Clinton
c/o Mr. Klosson and by fax: 202-456-2461
In the year and a half since I last saw you in Hong
Kong, there have been many changes in the US-China relationship, both setbacks
and progress. As you might imagine, we in Hong Kong have closely followed the
negotiations over China's accession to the World Trade Organization.
Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, I wanted to write to assure you
that as elected representatives of Hong Kong people, we strongly support
China's accession to the WTO. We do so not only because it would be of
tremendous long-term benefit to China and to Hong Kong as part of China, but
also because we believe it represents the best long-term hope for China to
become a member in good standing of the international community. In Hong Kong,
we have long seen the benefits of free markets and global competition. We also
believe that China should be admitted to the WTO to enhance the development of
the rule of law in the world's largest country.
you have reached a critical stage in the negotiations over China's accession,
we fear that should these negotiations or ratification fail, it could take
many more years to reach this point once more.
am writing to ask you to consider several relevant points. First, China's
joining the world trade club is obviously good for the new economic world
order. Indeed, the benefits are not only to China, but to the entire
Asia-Pacific region. However, the reverse is also true: should China not be
admitted, there is a risk not only of economic back-pedaling and a slowing of
the reform process, but also that the economic chill would affect Hong Kong
and China's neighbors in the region. I suggest to you that the world community
cannot afford several more years during which China's economic reform progress
is slowed down. Clearly, any hope for the political and legal reform process
would also recede.
the participation of China in the WTO would not only have economic and
political benefits, but would also serve to bolster those in China who
understand that the country must embrace the rule of law, which of course is a
key principle underlying active membership in global trade organizations. The
rules of free and open trade are based on mutual recognition that all
countries must regard each other as equals, with reciprocal rights and
obligations. Impartial rules of trade among nations can thus help build
acceptance domestically of the importance of equal rights under law. For those
of us who have long pressed for vigorous adherence to the rule of law in
China, it is encouraging that so many Chinese officials support the nation's
entry into groups such as the WTO.
China is not yet a developed country and it would be wrong to impose terms on
China on the basis that she is. We have to consider the great risks involved
even if China were to accept unduly onerous terms which might cause
considerable harm to her economy.
many of these changes will be difficult and painful in the short term. But
since Deng Xiaoping initiated China's opening to the world in 1979, this has
been an irrevocable process which has brought much good to the Chinese people
as a whole.
commend you and the members of your Administration who are pursuing this
important objective. Should the opportunity present itself, I want to express
my personal willingness to explain the importance of China's WTO accession to
wavering members of Congress or those with doubts in other important global
roles. Please do not hesitate to let me know if I can be of assistance in any
you for your consideration and for your continuing interest in Hong Kong and
The Democratic Party of Hong Kong