Smith introduces new legislation to strip the Chinese Communist Party of its trade status
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a leading international human rights lawmaker, and a longtime vocal opponent of the decision to give China preferential treatment in trade protocols, this week introduced new legislation (H.R. 7193) to strip the Chinese Communist Party of its Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status as punishment for its heinous human rights atrocities—especially and including the regime’s ongoing genocide and forced labor of Uyghurs and other Central Asian minorities.
Smith’s legislation—cosponsored by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Tom Tiffany (R-WI)— relinks China’s trade status with its record on human rights and requires annual affirmation by the President that the Chinese government is making serious and sustained improvement in respecting human rights in order to achieve normal trade relations status.
“Since President Clinton delinked trade from human rights with China in 1994—and under successive Administrations, including now under the Biden Administration—the Chinese Communist Party has gotten a pass for its gross human rights violations while benefiting tremendously by stealing American jobs and growing into the economic superpower it is today,” said Rep. Smith, who held a press conference on Capitol Hill in 1994 slamming Clinton and others for rewarding the “cruel realities” of China’s Communist regime with trade benefits.
“Many if not most business and political leaders have long bought into the ‘China Fantasy’ that overlooks human rights abuses while asserting that increased trade will make China more like us,” said Smith. “It was not true then and it's not true now.”
“China’s support for Russia—which itself is likely to lose PNTR status due to Putin's aggression against Ukraine—has made this reappraisal of granting China preferential trade treatment especially timely,” Smith said.
“When policymakers extended Permanent Normal Trade Relations status to China, they claimed it would usher in a new era of prosperity here at home while paving the way for political reform, improved human rights, and fairer labor practices in China – but we all know that’s not what happened,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany. “Over the last two decades, we’ve seen America’s manufacturing sector suffer while the elites in China’s Communist Party have become richer, more ruthless, and more dangerous than ever as they engage in systematic human rights abuses, slavery, and genocide. There is nothing normal about the behavior of China’s dictatorship, and America cannot afford to enable that behavior on a ‘permanent’ basis any longer.”
“It’s been 50 years since President Nixon first went to China, and we always believed that the more the Chinese government was exposed to our way of life, our democracy, and our economic system, the more they would become like us and value human rights and free markets,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi. “That simply has not happened. Now more than ever, we must stand up to China’s crimes against Uyghurs and Tibetans, and its destruction of democracy in Hong Kong. We cannot continue to allow China to act with impunity and undermine the rules-based order by cheating at the expense of other nations. It’s time for the U.S. Congress to make clear that if Chinese government refuses to meet its obligations to its citizens and the international community, it will face serious consequences, including the possible removal of PNTR.”
“Tragically, American corporations—from Nike to the NBA—still look the other way while Xi Jinping’s Communist regime is committing systematic genocide and crushing religious freedom,” said Smith. “What will it take?”
“Many innocent victims have suffered because of President Clinton’s horrific mistake,” Smith said. “However, it is not too late to return to the pre-Clinton norm and make annual renewal of normal trade relations contingent on concrete progress on human rights.”
Smith’s legislation comes just weeks after the Chinese Communist Party finished hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics—dubbed by Smith and other human rights leaders as the “Genocide Games.” For years, Smith led efforts in Congress to push the International Olympic Committee to move the Olympics to a host city in a different country and urged American corporations including Coca-Cola and others to withdraw their sponsorship of the Games.
Smith has been targeted with sanctions by the Chinese government and banned from China for his tireless advocacy and legislative work to promote human rights.