Wednesday, September 20, 2000
DeWine backs China deal
By Derrick DePledge and Brian Tumulty
Enquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON Sen. Mike DeWine put aside his concerns about weapons proliferation and voted Tuesday to grant China permanent normal trade relations with the United States.
The Ohio Republican had been one of a few senators publicly undecided about the vote, which cleared the Senate 83-15 with no suspense. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, also backed the trade agreement.
We believe that free trade is a cornerstone of a free society, Mr. DeWine said.
President Clinton has sought the trade deal to improve relations with the communist Chinese and open markets for U.S. goods as China joins the World Trade Organization. Tariffs on U.S.-made products will fall from an average 25 percent to about 9 percent by 2005.
The United States exports $13 billion worth of goods to China each year.
The pact ends the annual congressional review of China's trade status, which was always approved but gave critics the opportunity to challenge China on alleged human rights abuses. The vote, which followed a 237-197 endorsement by the House of Representatives in May, is a setback for organized labor. The AFL-CIO and other unions complain that the Chinese do not respect worker rights and have a poor record on the environment.
Mr. DeWine said the Senate should reconsider a proposal to hold China and other nations more accountable for weapons proliferation. The senator criticized China's involvement in weapons programs in Pakistan, Iran and Libya.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also voted for the trade deal. But Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., voted no and said the Senate made a mistake. If there is one thing that we have learned about communist China, it is that they only act responsibly when threatened with economic and trade sanctions, Mr. Bunning said.
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