(April 20, 2000) PI Fellow and Chinese environmentalist Dai Qing argues for permanent, normal trade status to promote freedom in China.
BEIJING–I have heard on the news that two of the groups I admire most in the United States–the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club–are against granting permanent normal trade relations status with China. They both organized large-scale activities, including mass demonstrations, to make their statements to American policymakers and to the public. As a Chinese environmentalist and human rights activist, I disagree with their position, although I am fully sympathetic with their causes. It is public knowledge that China is among the worst violators of labor rights and basic environmental standards. Walking on almost any street in almost any city, one can easily spot such violations: unemployed workers selling their old stuff, hoping to put some food on their family dinner tables; migrant workers sleeping under bridges and in construction sites, willing to take any job for a roof over their heads; water resources highly polluted by industrial waste; suffocating industrial pollution. Most government officials at all levels are so corrupt that they have become part of the pollution. The disagreement between me, together with many of my fellow human rights activists and environmentalists in China, and our counterparts in the U.S. is not over the principles of environmental protection and labor rights. Rather, the disagreement is with the means of improving human rights, including labor rights, implementing environmental protection and promoting democracy and freedom. I believe that permanent normal trade status, with its implication of openness and fairness, is among the most powerful means of promoting freedom in China.
Dai Qing, Los Angeles Times, April 20 , 2000
Categories: Articles by Dai Qing