Dear RN, Perhaps you remember me wondering who has been sending us some very interesting postings all of a sudden from this CyberBrook <•••@••.•••> address? Turns out this is someone Richard met up with while he has been working and fomenting revolution :-) in California. Good to hear from you, Dan, and vicariously from Ricahrd too. all the best, Jan ****************************************************** Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 14:41:25 -0800 From: CyberBrook <•••@••.•••> Subject: California & Chomsky RKM signed me up for this list recently, after we had the good sense and fortune to meet earlier this month, so I'm new to RN. I'm more of a forwarder than a writer these days, but I try to do both. Between the kids in my classes and my own 3 yr old kid at home, I'm both busy and distracted. I'm a contingent worker teaching sociology at the University of California in Davis, where I earned my Ph.D. They've been kind enough to keep me on while I've been unsuccessfully looking for a more secure teaching job. Not wanting to bore anyone, I'll post further details only upon request.---Dan ****************************************************************** Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 20:49:44 -0800 From: CyberBrook <•••@••.•••> Subject: Opposing China's Entry into the WTO The Right and Wrong Reasons for Opposing China's Entry into the WTO by Robin Hahnel www.zmag.org (the very useful ZNet Site) www.zmag.org/Commentaries/donorform.htm (here's how to sign up, donate, and get a commentary like this one every day, while supporting an important alternative media outlet) For the past seven years the Clinton Administration has asked Congress to extend China Normal Trading Relations (NTR) status for a year at a time. Opponents have argued that China does not deserve such status because the Chinese government denies its citizens basic democratic political and human rights. The Administration has argued that while partly true, the behavior of the Chinese government is improving, and a policy of "engagement" is more likely to advance the cause of democracy and human rights in China than a hostile policy of trying to isolate China from the civilized world community. After a great deal of demagogic and hypocritical posturing on both sides, Congress has always voted to extend China NTR status for yet another year. This year the Administration is asking Congress to grant China permanent NTR status because unless Congress does so, US businesses will not be able to take advantage of the deal the Clinton Administration recently negotiated with the Chinese government for its entry into the WTO, while foreign businesses will. There are those in the US who oppose China's entry into the WTO because they always oppose anything they deem to be in the interest of "Communist" China and contrary to the interest of the government in Taiwan. They oppose China's entry into the WTO for the same reason right wing Cuban Americans oppose lifting the US blockade against Cuba - they think the more belligerent the US government is toward a government they have always sought to bring down, the sooner that government will fall. These are the people who have made greatest use of the annual debate in the US Congress over whether or not to extend China NTR status. They have used the debate as yet another forum to denounce godless, totalitarian Communism. Since these are the same people who supported Pinochet, Mobutu, and Suharto until the bitter ends of their bloody regimes, and who voted not to join the international boycott against the Apartheid regime in South Africa, it is clear they have no sincere interest in democracy or human rights. They are hypocrites, pure and simple. There are also those who oppose China's entry into the WTO because they sincerely support democracy and human rights and think US trade policy should be used to punish governments who violate political and human rights. In other words, they believe in "linkage" and denounce the Clinton Administration as hypocritical for its failure to reconcile its economic and human rights policies toward China. Some who take this position on China and the WTO are on unimpeachable moral ground. But there are a number of problems with this position: First, who is the US government to sit in judgment of the human rights records of other governments? (1) The US government is the most serious abuser of human rights outside its own borders of any government in the world. (2) While the US government does not violate the human rights of anyone inside the US according to the US State Department, I'm sure the Foreign Ministries of China and Iraq say the same for themselves. If we consult an external source such as Amnesty International the US government stands accused of numerous human rights violations within its own borders. (3) The US government has a long history of denouncing human rights records only of regimes we deem unfriendly and overlooking the most heinous crimes of regimes provided they support US policies. As a matter of fact, sometimes the same regime, with the same policies, changes overnight from being described as a government in good moral standing to being demonized as a "new Hitler" or drug pusher merely because it opposed a US government foreign policy objective - as happened with Sadam Hussein in Iraq and Manuel Noriega in Panama. Second, is the Chinese government a worse violator of human rights than many other governments already within the WTO? If so, is someone opposed to admitting China also demanding that other human rights violators be expelled? The lobby pressuring Congress to grant China permanent NTR status reads like a Who's Who of major US corporations, banks and insurance companies who have already spent billions of dollars because they know they stand to gain hundreds of billions (see Hahnel, "China and the WTO" in the January issue of Z). This business lobby bought the Clinton Administration years ago, which is why the Administration excuses Chinese government human rights violations, pretends the violations are on the wane, and argues illogically that engagement is more effective than isolation in the case of China, while isolation is more effective than engagement in the case of Cuba. Administration critics are completely right to point out that Clinton's China policy is yet another reminder, if one were needed, that his proclaimed devotion to human rights is opportunistic, hollow, and hypocritical. In sum, the annual debates over NTR status for China have been among the political low points for a Congress and Administration with a great many low points to choose from. Which poses a serious dilemma for those of us in the movement opposed to corporate sponsored globalization as this year's China debate begins. Mike Dolan of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch was quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on December 6, 1999 right after the victory in Seattle saying "China. We're coming atcha. There's no question about it. The next issue is China." Jeff Faux, President of EPI, a liberal economic think-tank, was quoted in the same article to the effect that it would be impossible to get labor and environmental standards included with China in the WTO because China is a dictatorship and too big to push around. Rob Scott, also of EPI, wrote in the last issue of Working USA in 1999 that China should not be allowed in the WTO, among other reasons, because it engages in "market distorting government policies, including requirements for technology transfer to domestic firms, local content and offset requirements." John Sweeney denounced the Clinton Administration China deal as soon as it was announced, and AFL-CIO spokeswoman Denise Mitchell announced: "The China vote is going to become a proxy for all of our concerns about globalization." But Marty Hart-Landsberg, writing in the progressive economists network [PEN_L] is one of many thoughtful left economists who have expressed concerns: "What I worry about is rather than capitalism, or even MNCs, or even the WTO as the enemy, we now suddenly find that China is the enemy and that we need to keep it out of the WTO so that we can preserve the potential for reform [of the WTO]. Very scary." And Alexander Cockburn lashed out at Dolan, Faux, Scott, and the AFL-CIO in his column in the January 3 issue of The Nation saying he does not "feel comfortable at the sight of Western progressives execrating China," and he does not think "we should be trying to keep China out [of the WTO.]" In the February 14 issue of The Nation Cockburn elaborated: "By all means boycott prison-made commodities from China. But everything? China's credentials for the WTO are just as good as those of the US, so the arguments for keeping China out seem pretty rickety and hypocritical to me." Like Dolan, Faux, Scott, Sweeney, and unlike Hart-Landsberg and Cockburn, I think the movement against corporate sponsored globalization should oppose China's entry into the WTO. But it is very important to do so for the right, not the wrong reasons. We should not oppose China's entry on grounds of human rights violations. Don't get me wrong. Unlike the Clinton Administration, I do not excuse nor make light of Chinese human rights violations. The Chinese government denies its citizens the right of free speech, the right to organize politically, the right to organize independent unions, the right to strike, the right to a fair trial, and the right to privacy. The Post-Mao government has routinely resorted to arbitrary arrests to suppress dissent, and has not hesitated to imprison millions and kill tens of thousands to maintain its monopoly on political power. And these abuses, along with others, are more than enough reason to give Chinese citizens "the right to rebel," in Mao's words, and replace totalitarian Communist rule with a system of political democracy that protects human rights and civil liberties. But all these violations of political, labor, and human rights do not distinguish the Chinese government from many of the 135 governments who are presently members of the WTO in good standing. If someone wants to draw up a list of minimal political, labor, and human rights countries must observe to be WTO members; if someone wants to design a fair arbitration process for judging when governments are in violation; if someone wants to review the status of present WTO members according to the same standards applied to all applicants, not just China; I would consider supporting such a reform proposal. But until that is what is proposed, it is hypocritical to oppose China's entry because of violations of political and human rights. Nor should we oppose her entry on grounds that China engages in "market distorting policies." Some of those so-called market distorting policies are among the best policies of a Chinese government that all too often badly serves the economic interests of its citizens and increasingly fails to promote economic development that is environmentally sustainable and egalitarian. Progressive opponents of corporate sponsored globalization should never permit themselves to be seduced into defending the position that fair trade can only take place between countries whose governments never intervene in the market place. Our position should be support for greater intervention in the marketplace, until such time as markets and the economics of competition and greed they embody can be replaced altogether with a non-market system of equitable cooperation. Instead, US opponents of corporate sponsored globalization should oppose China's entry into the WTO on grounds that it will adversely affect the lives of the great majority of Chinese as well as the lives of a majority of Americans. In the January issue of Z I evaluated the deal struck by the current leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the Clinton Administration in great detail. It is a deal that serves the interests of important segments of the ruling elite in each country. But it is a deal that sacrifices the interests of an overwhelming majority of Chinese peasants and workers to the interests of some in the old Party elite and many in the newly educated elite -- just as it sacrifices the interests of most Americans to the interests of powerful segments of the US business community. This is not China vs. America. This is not a deal that is detrimental to the interests of a majority of Americans but in the interest of the majority of Chinese - as Alexander Cockburn erroneously asserts. This is a deal that enhances the economic prospects of a small minority who are already better off in both countries while significantly diminishing the economic prospects of the majority in both countries. Which means it is a no-brainer -- if Alex would only resist the temptation to bash a few US liberals and take the time to analyze the predictable consequences of the deal inside China. Radical opponents of corporate sponsored globalization can oppose China's entry into the WTO in good conscience - as long as we do so for the right reason: China's entry is detrimental to the interests of the vast majority of Chinese as well as the majority of Americans. Only because Chinese peasants and workers are kept less informed and more repressed than US workers and environmentalists do we hear fewer voices from inside China echoing our own cries for an end to corporate sponsored globalization. It is not the movement against corporate sponsored globalization that usurps the sovereign right of the Chinese citizenry to determine their own destiny when we oppose China's entry into the WTO on the terms negotiated by the Chinese government. An undemocratic, self-serving Chinese government did that when they negotiated the deal, just as the corporate globalizers with the help of their political and intellectual handmaidens have usurped the right of economic self-management of the global majority over the past two decades. There is no reason not to extend our shout "Ya Basta!" to ensnaring the Chinese masses into a corporate dominated global system that enriches a wealthy few particularly at the expense of the most wretched of the earth, which is where the vast majority of Chinese will sink even further if the deal goes through.