Why Reward Them?

  Faith in Christ is breaking out all over China, and you know what that means: Torture, prison, labor camps, and "re-education" for anyone who follows Christ. It's business as usual for Chinese leaders—and now the Clinton Administration wants to reward them for it. It's an example of how badly skewed our priorities can become. For years, Congress has insisted that when it comes to China, normal trade status—formerly called Most Favored Nation status—ought be reviewed every year. It's the only leverage we have to let China know how seriously we take its horrific human rights violations. And those violations are getting worse. Just two weeks ago (April 18) the United States sponsored a United Nations resolution condemning China for the worst repression since Tiananmen Square. Even the State Department now admits that in China, persecution has grown markedly worse. Incredibly, despite those horrific abuses, the Clinton Administration wants Congress now to normalize trade with China permanently. It's spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to do just that. Now, I'm not against trade relations with China. I'm for it. It's one important way the Chinese are going to see how much better democracy is, and then demand it for themselves. But why give them a carte blanche? Let's look each year at the progress they're making and then make a decision. The Clinton Administration and business leaders agree that yes, persecution is a terrible thing—but that we ought to separate trade and human rights issues. But where were these folks when the U.S. was trying to pass the UN resolution condemning China? They were nowhere to be seen. In fact, human rights activists blame President Clinton's lack of interest for the fact that the resolution was tabled by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Business leaders also claim that the threat of sanctions won't work. Wrong: I've seen them work against another brutal regime, the former Soviet Union. In 1973 President Nixon sent me to Moscow to negotiate for the release of Soviet Jews. I told Vasily Kuznetsov, the hard-line Soviet deputy foreign minister, that if the Soviets did not allow Jews to emigrate, Congress would not pass the trade treaty, which the Soviets desperately needed to get grain. Kuznetsov pounded the table and he shouted, "You have no right to interfere in our internal affairs!" I told him, "These aren't your internal affairs. Human rights are not conferred by government, and they cannot be denied by government. They are God-given to everyone." Kuznetsov finally backed down. That year 35,000 Jews were released—and the grain was shipped. It will take the same pressure from Congress and the American people to free the captives in China. Congress is scheduled to vote on China's trade status on May 22. I hope you will contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to continue insisting that China's trade status be renewed each year. If we give up this vital weapon, then it will be business as usual for Chinese leaders. That means torture, prison, and slave labor for those who follow Christ. Why should we reward anyone for that?


Chuck Colson


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