Tuesday December 07, 2021

Clinton Comments On China Trade Bill Passage

September 19, 2000

This is the text of remarks by President Clinton following the passage by the Senate of a bill on trade relations with China. The Senate voted 83-15 to remove restraints on trade with China. The House of Representatives passed the measure last May by 237-197.

Today the Senate voted to pave the way for permanent normal trade relations between the United States and China. This landmark agreement will extend economic prosperity at home and promote economic freedom in China, increasing the prospects for openness in China and a more peaceful future for all of us.

When we open markets abroad to U.S. goods, we open opportunities at home. This vote will do that. In return for normal trade relations, the same terms of trade we offer now to more than 130 other countries, China will open its markets to American products, from wheat to cars to consulting services. And we will be far more able to sell goods in China without moving our factories there.

But there's much more at stake here than our economic self-interest. It's about building a world in which more human beings have more freedom, more control over their lives, more contact with others than ever before, a world in which countries are tied more closely together and the prospects for peace are strengthened.

Trade alone won't create this kind of world. But bringing China under global rules of trade is a step in the right direction. The more China opens it markets to our products, the wider it opens its doors to economic freedom and the more fully it will liberate the potential of its people.

When China finishes its negotiations and joins the W.T.O., our high-tech companies will help to speed the information revolution there. Outside competition will speed the demise of China's huge state industries and spur the enterprise of private-sector involvement. They will diminish the role of government in people's daily lives. It will strengthen those within China who fight for higher labor standards, a cleaner environment, for human rights and the rule of law. And we will find, I believe, that America has more influence in China with an outstretched hand than with a clenched fist.

Of course, none of us should think for a moment that any of these outcomes are guaranteed. The advance of freedom ultimately will depend upon what people in China are willing to do to continue standing up for change. We will continue to help support them.

Peace and security in Asia will depend upon our military presence, our alliances, on stopping the spread of deadly weapons. Some will continue. So we will continue to be a force for peace, and we will not rest in our efforts to make sure that freer trade also is fairer trade.

These are some of the most important issues that our nation faces. That's why this vote was so important and, for many, so difficult. I want to thank Senator Lott and Senator Daschle, Senator Roth, Senator Moynihan and Senator Baucus, as well as those who led our effort in the House, and everyone within this administration who worked so hard to achieve this important milestone.

But I also want to acknowledge those who raised important questions about this policy and say to you this is not the end of the story. It is the beginning. We have a chance not a certainty, but a chance to strengthen our prosperity and our security and to see China become a more open society. Now our test as a nation is whether we can achieve that. I hope and I strongly believe that we will.



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