DAY 2 IN WASHINGTON, DC: MARTIN LEE MEETS US SECRETARY OF STATE
AND PASSIONATE OPPONENTS AND SKEPTICS OF PNTR FOR CHINA
(Washington, DC, May 3, 2000)
Martin Lee and Chungkai Sin, the two Democrats from Hong Kong who
are trying to mobilize congressional support for pNTR (permanent Normal
Trade Relations) for China, met Secretary Albright and a number of senior
officials within the State Department, as well as about 20 Members of
Congress who either oppose, are skeptical of, or simply undecided on
whether to grant pNTR status for China.
The Democrats' argument that pNTR and WTO membership for China would
help China transform from "rule by law" in which the law can often become
a tool of repression to "rule of law" was echoed by Secretary Albright.
Mr. Lee said,
"At the beginning, economic interests are going to be the primary
driving forces within China for WTO accession. However, in the long
run, in order to sustain the economic interests, and to protect property
rights, people are going to be more rights conscious. And this will
be the beginning of the rule of law. "
"In China, the state is omnipresent. It controls your life - how you
live, where you work, what you read and see. The internet represents
enormous business opportunities in the new century, but it also means
that state control can no longer be as tight as the government wants.
There will be alternative sources of information which the government
will no longer be able to block out or filter. The reduction of government
control means that the people will be more free." Mr. Sin supplemented.
In the same meeting, the Democrats also discussed the recent erosion
of the freedom of the press in Hong Kong and underscored the importance
of international monitoring of the local enactment of article 23 of
the Basic Law on subversion. Martin Lee commended the State Department
for speaking up against Chinese Central Government Liaison Office's
(formerly part of New China News Agency) Deputy Director Wang Fengchao's
admonition of the broadcasting of interview with Vice-president-elect
of Taiwan regarding Taiwan independence. But he also pointed out the
lack of appreciation for the ramification of Wang's call to speed up
local enactment of article 23 of the Basic Law. According to Mr. Lee,
Wang's comments suggested that the Central government is serious in
deploying provisions against subversion to suppress dissident views.
In the afternoon, Mr. Lee and Mr. Sin have arranged to meet with Members
of Congress who have reservation toward supporting the current bill
on granting pNTR to China, offering to share their views and answer
some questions. The delegation met with Congressmen Chris Cox, John
Porter, and almost 20 members of the Caucus of New Democrats. Many are
concerned about losing the single leverage of the annual NTR debate.
Some used South Africa as an example to argue that trade sanction did
help bring an end to apartheid. The exchanges were at times emotional.
"With the vast market of China, even if the US does not do business
with China, many countries will jump at the opportunity. In this case,
a trade sanction that is not an all-out trade sanction is just not a
trade sanction at all. This is the difference between China and South
Africa and this is why the policy of engagement is more useful. Just
think of the hypothetical situation of non-engagement, the US will have
no leverage at all with China." Mr. Lee countered. "I can appreciate
the sentiments and concerns, but I just cannot agree with the conclusion."
On Day 3, Mr. Lee will speak at a forum jointly organized by the Business
Roundtable, US-China Business Council, US Chamber of Commerce, and Committee
for American Trade at 9am. The delegation will also meet with Members
of Congress, including Bob Matsui, Sandy Levin, Doug Bereuter, and a
group of undecided Republicans invited by David Dreier.
For more information, please contact Winnie Kwok in Washington DC
at the Morrisson Clark Inn, tel 202-898-1200.