(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.

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