April 7, 2000
SUBJECT: China and WTO
The Clinton Administration
and the Wall Street Journal, leading advocates of Chinas entry into
the World Trade Organization, have both admitted uncertainty about Chinas
commitment to economic reform.
In editorials and
news articles published today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the
Chinese government has criticized or fired four prominent Chinese academics
noted for their support of privatization and political reforms. According
to the Journal, an official party newspaper this week attacked the four
for promoting western ideas and reiterated support for Marxism as Chinas
leading ideology. Similarly, President Jiang Zemin last weekend delivered
a speech to party cadres warning against the strategic plot
to Westernize and divide our nation.
The Wall Street Journal
also reported remarks of Commerce Secretary William Daley in Beijing to
prepare for an upcoming visit by a U.S. congressional delegation. On the
question of whether China would live up to its promises to undertake the
legal and economic reforms necessary to open up its markets, Secretary
Daley admitted that he was not sure: Thats the $64 billion
question, or $69 billion, or whatever our trade deficit with China is.
has made bold claims that Chinas accession to the WTO will bring
about significant economic and political change. With its agreement on
WTO, the President says, China has chosen reform, despite the risks.
According to his own Commerce Secretary and the Wall Street Journal, thats
not exactly true.
As the Journal itself
pointed out in a previous editorial (Trading Places, January
31, 2000), the trade generated by Chinas entry into the WTO serves
Americas foreign policy goals only if it forces Beijing to
cede more and more control over Chinese lives back to the Chinese themselves.
But, as Chinas current behavior and past practices suggest, this
is more a hope than a fact. Shouldnt the decision by the United
States to give China permanent low-tariff access to our markets be based
on something more concrete than that?