(Washington, DC, May 2, 2000)


On the first day of their visit to Washington, DC, Democratic Party Chairman Martin LEE and Legislator Chungkai SIN met President Bill Clinton and senior Administration officials to press for permanent Normal Trade Relations (pNTR) for China. The Democrats were received in the Oval Office by President Clinton for a 35-minute meeting, after which they were introduced by the President to 20-odd members of Congress who are undecided in the critical upcoming vote. Secretary of Commerce Daley, USTR Barshefsky and Secretary of Agriculture Glickman also attended the White House reception for the Members. In total, the Democrats spent an hour and fifteen minutes at the White House.

"President Clinton and his Administration have made 'engagement' the centerpiece of their policy on China," said Martin Lee, the Democratic Party leader. "As a Chinese citizen, I am lending my support to pNTR for China. But I want to be clear. This is not a reward for China. It is something we should grant so that the people of China have a chance to improve their lives and eventually bring in the rule of law. "

While in the US capital, the Democrats are also discussing the erosion of Hong Kong's rule of law, threats to press freedom and the future of democratic development in the territory of nearly 7 million citizens.

Martin Lee explained to the US President and members of Congress that along with normal trade relations for China, there needed to be a commensurate commitment to improving human rights and the rule of law for China's 1.2 billion citizens.

"We need a genuine effort across the board to improve basic rights and freedoms," said Lee. "I do not consider pNTR and WTO for China to be the end of a campaign - but rather the beginning. And in the future I would like to see the same sort of all-out effort to encourage reform in China that we are seeing to get this piece of legislation passed in Congress."

Legislator Chungkai Sin emphasized to the President and members of Congress the importance of the trade agreement to encouraging internet expansion across China. "Today, there are 10 million internet users in China," said Mr. Sin. "pNTR has the potential to push the development of telecommunication infrastructure and greater freedom of information. This is but one example of the ability of this deal to improve the lives of ordinary Chinese citizens. "

In their meetings this week, the Democrats are making a point to see a broad range of policy-makers who take very different stances on the pNTR bill. Martin Lee and Chungkai Sin today saw Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who opposes PNTR, along with other undecided members. Tomorrow (May 3), they will meet US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the State Department at 11:00am. Later, they will see Members of Congress Chris Cox and John Porter, along with the Caucus of New Democrats, a group of 60-odd moderate Democrats, hosted by Congressman Tim Roemer, caucus co-chair. Other confirmed meetings this week include Representative Sandy Levin, Senator Connie Mack, Representative Bob Matsui, and Representative David Dreier, who will host a group of undecided Republicans on Thursday.



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