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The U.S.- China WTO Agreement Will Help Promote Reform, Accountability, and Openness in China

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 8, 2000

The U.S.-China WTO Agreement Will Help Promote
Reform, Accountability, and Openness in China

China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will help promote reform, accountability, and openness in China. Voting to enact permanent Normal Trade Relations (NTR) with China is the most significant immediate action we can take to move China in the right direction.

China’s accession agreement will deepen and help to lock in market reforms -- and empower those in China’s leadership who want their country to move further and faster toward economic freedom. In opening China’s telecommunications market, including to Internet and satellite services, the agreement will expose the Chinese people to information, ideas, and debate from around the world. And China’s accession to the WTO will help strengthen the rule of law in China and increase the likelihood that it will play by global rules. Many human rights activists and members of the foreign policy community agree that bringing China into the WTO will help move China in the right direction:


  • Martin Lee, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong: “The participation of China in the WTO would not only have economic and political benefits, but would 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... 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." [Letter to President Clinton, 11/14/99]

  • Ren Wanding, Leader of the 1978 Democracy Wall Movement in China: "Before the sky was black. Now there is a light -- This can be a new beginning." [Washington Post, 11/18/99]

  • Xu Youyu, Prominent Chinese Philosopher: Xu said the decision to join the WTO marked "the first time in a long time that there seems to be a real direction" in China's government. "People always say China can never go back, but over the last 20 years, and even during the last year, we've taken a lot of detours. Now we have a clear direction --.in the long run it will help." [Washington Post, 11/18/99]

  • Li Ke, Former Chinese Editor of the Democratic Journal Fangfa: "For so many years of China's reform and opening, these areas couldn't be opened up and remained state monopolies. But if economic monopolies can be broken, controls in other areas can have breakthroughs as well. These breakthroughs won't necessarily happen soon. But in the final analysis, in the minds of ordinary people, it will show that breakthroughs that were impossible in the past are indeed possible." China's upcoming entry into the WTO is "a New Year's gift for China as it enters 2000. It's a gift we never, ever thought we could get." [Washington Post, 11/18/99]

  • Wang Shan, Chinese Liberal Political Scientist: "Undoubtedly, [the China WTO agreement] will push political reform." [The Boston Globe, 11/28/99]

  • Randy Tate, Co-Chair of Working Families for Free Trade, and Former Executive Director of the Christian Coalition: "An isolated China will resist change at home and be likely to behave more aggressively towards its regional neighbors. None of that serves American interests. Admitting China into the WTO may not cause it to shed dictatorship for democracy. But it's the right step toward realizing that goal." [Washington Times, 11/29/99]


  • Nicholas Lardy, Brookings Institution: "The authoritarian basis of the [Chinese Communist] regime is gradually eroding, and if successfully implemented, this agreement will contribute to that." [U.S. News & World Report, 11/29/99]

  • Jacob Fisch, Council on Foreign Relations: "Bringing China into the WTO will encourage social and political change in China and help promote reform of its egregious human rights behavior. China's modernization has, until now, been greatly inspired and facilitated by interaction with the world community and will be greatly enhanced by WTO membership". The impact of information technology on society and the life of the Chinese individual will become more pronounced….The organizational capacity of groups and the potential for clandestine exchanges will expand, and the repressive controls of the government will diminish." [Los Angeles Times, 11/26/99]

  • David Lampton, Director of China Studies at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies:The bottom line [is] that foreign involvement in China’s economy inherently promotes better worker rights through dispute resolution in the factory, through involving workers more in management, through better working conditions, and so on. And so just the mere fact that the world is going to be more involved in the Chinese economy, I think, promotes human rights in both the broad sense and the specific sense." [National Public Radio, 11/16/99]

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