An Essay on China, the Human Rights and the World Trade Organization (WTO)

On November 30, 1999, the members of World Trade Organization (WTO) will head to Seattle for the 3rd Ministerial Conference. Among the items on the agenda set forth for that week of meetings include debating and deciding on the vital issue of whether to admit China into the international commerce alliance. Some oppose, some support Chinas admission. Others are debating which way their vote sways. One of the major votes needed for approval of Chinese membership belongs to the U.S. Whether to support Chinese membership has arisen disputes over the issues of human rights.

For years, China has been labeled as notorious for depriving Chinese commoners of their human rights with torture and suffering. Little has change over these years and the suffering and torture continues. The issue at question is should the moral politics of human rights have an effect the politics of economics involving support for taking steps of action that will increase free trade with China? What will granting China the coveted WTO membership lead to?

The U.S. stance on their foreign policy towards China goes through more mood swings than a pregnant woman. After mutual demonization during the Mao years, America drew up a business strategy to patch up ties with China and target their markets and consumers in the 1970s. The relations were damaged after the Tiananmen Square 1incident of 1989. Even though the todays relations are on better terms, no one has forgotten that incident.

Being a WTO member means access to other WTO member markets and opening your own markets to other members.

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The goal behind establishing the WTOs founding is to free up trade and help the economy of each member. This is achieved by setting standards and regulations for international trading. -2- After years of moderate comfort in economic growth hitting double-digit percentage, China was hit hard by the Asian Flu economic crisis. This past year has casted a decrease of foreign capital flowing into China for the first time in the memory of Jiang Zemins presidency. The Chinese governments WTO bid is not necessarily for pure image and underlying ego anymore. Now, because of the recent damaging events in Corporate Asia, China vies for accession into the WTO to reboot their economy before their hard drive crashes and all is fallen. -1

Is it really that bad? Chinas economy is not likely to collapse any time soon. The communist politicians in Beijing acknowledge their nation as a world power, but they also acknowledge that the Asian Flu shot into their path to superpower status. The dragons economy includes being riddled with inefficient state-run industries and debt-added banks. Though it has considerable oil reserves , it does not have the wherewithal to pump it efficiently.-1- China seeks foreign investment for its economy to bring Western money. China has come to realize that without the imported goods, resources, and technology, the dragon cannot build and his nation will always have a status labeled as potential superpower and not the worlds superpower.

The World Trade Organization is among the youngest and quickest to have an influence in international affairs. It was officially established into effect January 1, 1995. It is the successor to General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and had based most of its structure under the old GATT system. It is an Inter-governmental Organization (IGO) whose 134 members account for over 90% of the worlds economy. (A statistic that China is well aware and is one of the major reasons behind the nations strong drive for membership.) -2- The WTO offices are located in Geneva, Switzerland. The organizations top level of authority is the Ministerial Conference. The Ministerial Conference is what the name is: a conference of 134 ministers to the council who meet at a site awarded the honor as host of the round by Geneva. The conference convenes a minimum of once every two years. Thus the period between conferences can be within one year as is the Seattle 1999 Ministerial Conference, set the year after Geneva 1998. Singapore served as the 1st host in 1996. The day to day operations are assigned to the delegated second level General Council and the Secretariat (headed by the Director-General). -1 

The nations of the WTO have equal regulation and equal trade status. That means that any regulation the U.S. passes regarding trade with France applies to the other 132 members and, with accession, China. The WTO passes regulations, in cooperation with the members involved, to make trade easier. Geneva plays it biggest role when it organizes and mediates negotiations to lower tariffs between groups of nations. For example, the average tariffs on industrial products in WTO developed countries were cut from 6.3% to 3.8%. In the WTO, Most-Favored Nation (MEN) status applies to all member nations.-4- This is one of the major problems that concerns the U.S. with the accession of China. The U.S. has already given China MEN status. The problem is that if China accedes into the WTO, the U.S. cannot retract the status and China becomes a MEN nation for the life of the WTO. This means that tarnished relations and quarrels between the nations that would normally lead to sanction swapping and embargo exchanging will have to be settled through the large network and system of the WTO.

Developing nations in the WTO are given generous terms to protect the collapse of their economy. China hopes to fall under this classification while being active in industrial and technological trade. This will go along with Chinas transitioning of prying open its currently limited access markets. -17

Still the membership, while inducted on full consensus, relies on the agreement and influence from the key trading partners EU and U.S. (not to forget Japan and Canada, making up the WTO Quad, and a few other groups). China is focusing its trade talks solely with the U.S. because of the more direct potential trading and interest of investors.

In 1996, Chinese piracy of U.S. goods was exposed and erupted an outroar across the U.S. All over Chinese streets, CD-ROM software and audio CDs are being replicated in masses and either sent to the streets to be sold or sent to the packaging centers to be shipped to other countries. The CD replicas had modified photocopied covers and sold at substantial discounts. D.C. had estimated a $50 billion amount of pirated CD sales. The Chinese government quickly made actions to help loosen tensions in U.S. trade relations and pulled together an anti-piracy commission which destroyed about 3.5 million discs in 1996. The actions taken by Beijing were noteworthy and commendable but taken a little too late to control the black market. Sanctions were set on some Chinese exports. Yet, the tensions did not last long. Less than a year later, the White House and Capitol Hill, after some deliberation, renewed MEN status with China. Talks for improving trade across the pacific then followed. -9

The talks subtly but quickly were directed in relation to WTO membership. Many in the U.S. were hasty at first, as were many U.S. monopolizing-feared Chinese, but the wariness softened a little over the recent years. Relations were damaged in Spring 1999 after U.S.-led NATO forces goofed and bombed the Chinese embassy in Serbia. Although China unleashed anger towards the U.S. and the European Union (EU), the nation seemed forgiving as Beijing resumed trade talks with the U.S. soon after the end of the Yugoslavia-NATO combating. -17

In recent talks, China and U.S. trade representative have been negotiating with the goal of mutual agreement and peace of mind towards progressing the Chinese future in world trade. The latest meetings are in Beijing on November 8-15, 1999 in the last ditch effort on both sides to hammer out differences. Talks have been back and forth with the latest showing signs of progress, positives toward agreement and a something to present in favor a Chinese accession at Seattle 1999. Issues being deliberated at the meetings include D.C. insisting Beijing agree to quotas on textile exports and anti-dumping measures to prevent surges of low-cost exports. The majority of Chinas huge trade surplus is from the departures of products stemming from cheap labor with arrivals scheduled for U.S. This sticking point in negotiations has been modified to where the quota will be phased out over time. The U.S. is also looking out for U.S. foreign investors. The delegation, led by U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, is requesting greater access in Chinas telecommunications market and financial services sector. U.S. telecommunication companies that have already gone global in other foreign markets, such as TimeWarner, Nextel, NewsCorp, AT&T, and the emerging world of eCorporations, seek to dive into the potential in the Orients heavily populated coastal markets and expand China wide open. Communication product companies, such as chip makers Motorola and Intel, foresee the result of Chinese telecommunication market access and expansion as an increase in production and boosting the U.S. economy. -17- The delegation’s terms are targeting the balance of trade to where the surplus will jump to the U.S. dish on the scale.

The United Nations (UN) has drawn the standard of human rights for the world in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its General Assembly has proclaimed this Declaration as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction in its preamble. The document is then followed by 30 Articles going further into the definition and the standard guidelines of human rights. -16- This is the UN. The same UN which is supposed to be where every nation has a voice and equality between them, even though five of the countries sit in high chairs each with a giant foot. The same UN where three of those five countries share similar views with similar ways of life and hold a very favorable interdependency and such strong international power that they have the power to impose their influence. The same UN based in New York, New York, United States. The United States where standards are set.

However, some of these articles are practical and necessary to provide order of good living and press out oppression. Yet some of the articles stated are contending a single system every person and every place should abide by and any other system is improper. For example, Article 13 sec 1 sensibly states that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Then Article 13 states in section 2 the everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.-16- That means criminal fugitives have full rights to head for the islands and exiles on the islands have full rights to return to the nation that banned them. Not only is that absurd, but it is telling each nation how to handle its border patrolling.

According to the Declaration, the government should not use its authority suppress people who speak against them. The UNs definition is clearly democratic and cannot possibly be created and agreed upon jointly by the whole of the General Assemblys delegates.

Between 1989 and 1993, Chinas Custody and Repatriation (C&R), arbitrary detention service, was reported to have a 108% increase (from 59,150 to 123,000) in the number of people detained at its major location in Shenzhen. Shenzhen is a designated Special Economic Zone neighboring Hong Kong and thus the area where the major issue of refugee fleeing is the center of attention. The number of C&R centers increased by in 85% Shanghai and 21% in Guangdong. -18

The U.S. Department of the State annual report, released in 1997, lambasted China, Burma, Nigeria, Bosnia, Cuba, and several others for human rights offenses such as suppressing basic freedoms, maintaining intolerable prison conditions, and ordering troops and security agents to kill civilians. This is the year when Madeline Albright was moving into the office for the head of the department. She started her occupancy with a pledge to tell it like it is on human rights. -8- That report was soft. The article told it somewhat like it is with drops of exceptions and inconclusive accounts and hints of political poker. -14

The Political Experts: Their Theories on the Effects

For realism, theory consists in ascertaining facts and giving them meaning through reason. The main signpost of political realism of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power. -12- Wall Street and Corporate Drive foresee plenty positive outcomes and each one of them is each dollar bill with their double-digit increase in their incomes. When they push the White House and Capitol Hill to support Chinas accession, they only see the immediate future. That immediate future is profit. Realists see the membership as threat. You give China a little, they will take a lot. An increase of trade in Chinas economy will result in the dragon being more independent on others for fire. The less need will give them the ability to have less worry in relations. In addition, the WTO seat will somewhat free them from sanctions. When Chinas economy starts nearing its peak, it will have the ability to hit superpower status. A status only the U.S. has consistently had. The last time the U.S. had a superpower counterpart was during the Cold War rivalry with communist Soviet Union. Already a political and nuclear power, China will become an industrial and technological nation with bank power. It gives them the chance to use their vault on improving technology, military technology at that, and that technology could include nuclear weapons or galactic weapons Another communist nation, another threat overseas, another Cold War.

The difference between this forecast and the Cold War, is that the Soviet Union was gained an industrial economy quickly after its formation and adopted a socialist system. China is more totalitarian and, by the likes of its income bracket consensus, is in no way socialist. Their economy has the likes of capitalism, but still has a long way to go to gain an economy any where near their territory (or Special Administrative Region) of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is major factor. Although the region is self-regulating and free from Beijing govern, Hong Kong is under the Communist military and under the Communist influence with leaders showing a few signs of Communist ways. (In fact, left-wing Chinese communist-like mainland loyalists, though a small minority, are expressing pro-Beijing stance and making their presence) With this, comes the red dragon closing in on an alliance of sort. It is forming slowly but surely.

The evidence of these signs is there. Radio-television station head and press-freedom advocate Cheung Man-yee has seen it first hand. The Beijing proposed promise to the world of One nation, Two systems was questioned when authoritarian influence surfaced over Hong Kongs freedom of press. Cheung Man-yee was added to the dissident victim list when she was forced to leave her job at Radio Television Hong Kong, a government supported but independently-run station, and reassigned by the Hong Kong government to as their economic and trade representative in Tokyo. After a 13-year tenure, suspicions have tied Cheungs released with the stations criticism of Hong Kong and Beijing governments. It has been widely known that Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, the head of Hong Kongs government, has been in opposition to the stations use of their freedom of speech especially when Beijing officials were annoyed after Cheungs staff gave airtime to a senior Taiwan official in Hong Kong to explain President Lee Teng-Huis argument that relations with China should be conducted on a state-to-state basis. -15

Hong Kong is already a WTO member with its own currency and the territory exception. It is the only territory member in the organization. China wants to incorporate the region. What use would overtaking such a place with a booming economy and not getting anything in return to help boost your not so booming economy. The U.S. already has a weekly $1 billion trade deficit with China alone. Combine that with the skyrocketing economy of a capitalist oriented place, the U.S., along the rest of the world, might as well look its vault and prepare 11 chapter 11s to be grilled rare. The orients economy is craving for something well done, and the WTO is the working grill pit. In other words, we give them a little; they take a lot.

What is the realist take on human rights? It is a problem that does not affect the global strength of the U.S. So what? The realist stance maintains that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states in their abstract universal formulation. The individual may say for himself: (Let justice be done, even if the world perish), but the state has no right to say so in the name of those who are in its care. Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with moral laws that govern the universe. -11. In short, if you dont live in our society and under our laws, Butt Out! Moral law cannot be defined. Moral principle of Nation A is set on the basis of the society of that nation. Nation B and its allies, Nation C and Nation D, might try to define universal moral law, but then they are just imposing their way of life. Thus, the BCD alliance are only implying and impressing upon the world that the way of life in their societies (all with similar lifestyles and social structure) is best way of life and insulting the society in Nation A as well as every other societys standards of living.

Liberals rejects the logic that international affairs and events are to be viewed as threat to a sovereigntys power. The liberals take a view where linkage of events lead to progress. This action will lead to series of events with a positive outcome. The liberal stance is vague because their logic is not direct. They take either the short steep road or the long flat road, but both roads will supposedly lead to the same point.

If the China opens its markets, then the nation will be exposed to capitalism and slowly close in on a full capitalist system. Liberals contends that with capitalism, democracy is inevitably to follow. For the capitalist system to exist and run successfully, it must be incorporated with the democratic method(s) and democratic system(s). With a true democracy in place, human rights will be drowned out by unanimous voice of the People in the Peoples Republic of China.

These liberals theorize that the WTO accession of China as the tool that will nail the links to the fall of Communism of the East. No one can say whether this Red Flag fall will have the likes of the domino pace of the fall of the Red in Eastern Europe. However, the liberals link the healthy economies of the Czech Republic and a unified Germany the fall of the iron curtain. They foresee that collapse the Communist Party first in China, then in North Korea, and Vietnam will follow. The result will be better life for most of the world.

The Keep Your Stance and Force Change in Their Practices Liberals

The other liberals cite South Africa. Impose embargoes, sanctions, or other actions against them and force them into a situation to make a decision to change their practices. If you can change a racial issue, then you can change a human rights issue. It is possible and practical to change order by setting ultimatums on them.

If you force them to change their practices and methods of daily life by setting forth economic relations that will damage their economy, then the nations and its government will have no choice but to oblige. Once the change has taken place, then the nation is ready to deal with the world and be included in an organization where equality is key.

The liberal theories are practical and possible. Their reasoning leads to progression and the spread of democracy. The liberal overall picture has a positive outcome focused on the relatively near future. Yet, as a whole they are not unified on their stance and do not take a side. Thus their logic of linkage is not simplified and clear. It does not take a single side of this particular issue.

The realist stance, on the other hand, is rational and details the realistic goals of the sovereign state. In some way or another, all those goals relate to the sovereign objective to gain power. The realist view theorizes very possible, and not hopeful, outcomes with the ultimate effect and change in position. While realists do not see human rights as an issue that should be ignored, it is an issue that should be dealt in relation to national (U.S.) interest, security, and powers. In assisting a nation already with the potential of superpower status, the U.S. gains a threat to its current superpower status.

The chances for China to gain a place in Geneva are optimistic. If China and the U.S. trade representative units do not reach an agreement before Seattle 1999, then chances are likely that one of the Ministerial Conferences in the near future will approve the accession of China. How will WTO membership and change in Chinas economy affect Human Rights is unknown.


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