Five Years After Getting Favorable Trade Status, China Hasn’t Changed
Five years ago, when Congress granted permanent normal trade relations to China, a prerequisite to that country joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), supporters claimed China would, among other things, adhere to the rules of the global trading system. They also said China would open its markets to America’s exporters, investors, businesses and farmers and become a member of the community of nations that promotes democratic government, human dignity, peace and stability in the world.
They were wrong. A new report shows that China continues its massive subsidies to its own industries and still oppresses millions of its citizens. The 2006 annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (a bipartisan, congressionally appointed commission) released last week also provides evidence that China has been seriously inconsistent in meeting its obligations as a member of the WTO. The report backs up conclusions in the AFL-CIO’s Bush administration report card on China and a Solidarity Center study on workers’ rights in China.
United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard says “anywhere you look, by almost any measure, the U.S.-China relationship is moving in the wrong direction.”
And there is no better evidence than at Goodyear, where 15,000 of our members have been forced out on strike by a company that has announced it plans to increase its tire imports ten-fold from Communist China, where workers are routinely oppressed.
Our manufacturers here at home are finding it harder and harder to compete against an economic system in China that is built on oppressed workers, subsidized inputs and capital, stolen intellectual property and other unfair advantages.
China also continues to violate the human rights of its workers. Says George Becker, retired USW president and a member of the Commission:
Workers’ rights are controlled with an iron fist. Even in rapidly expanding areas where labor demand has increased, the ability of workers to fully share in the fruits of their labor is almost nonexistent.
The Bush administration in July rejected an AFL-CIO petition that would have required the United States to take action to address the Chinese government’s systematic denial of workers’ rights and unfair trade practices. China also keeps its currency value artificially low, making its exports cheaper and imports more expensive.
The petition called on Bush to use his authority under U.S. law to impose sanctions against China or take other actions to remedy the situation.
The current Congress did not act on a bill (H.R. 1498) introduced by Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), which would have given the government new tools to address currency manipulation and would clarify that such manipulation is an illegal subsidy under WTO rules.
by James Parks, Nov 27, 2006