Mainland China, U.S. friends: commerce chief

Chris Cockel, The China Post, Washington D.C.

Business is clearly business in Washington as United States Commerce Secretary Don Evans on Thursday declared that the U.S. and mainland China are now firm friends, but voices heard elsewhere in the U.S. capital revealed a somewhat different picture. Hitting all the right notes as he addressed members of the U.S.-China Business Council at their annual meeting, Evans congratulated the council for being “an early voice” in advocating expanded economic ties with the mainland. “How right you were to hang in there,” he said.

Fresh from a visit to the mainland that took him for the first time to Shanghai, Evans was clearly impressed by what he saw. “It’s absolutely amazing,” he said.

Evans expressed his admiration particularly for the students that he met while in China. “They are the new China and why this nation … is going places,” he said.

Nevertheless, much remains to be done in terms of reform, particularly with regard to human and political rights, according to Evans. “It’s time they took the next step,” he said.

Only through more open trade can people throughout the world enjoy peace and prosperity, stressed Evans, adding, “it won’t happen overnight.” On his recent trip to the mainland, during which he met with President Jiang Zemin, Evans focused in large part on the mainland’s World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance and such matters as intellectual property rights.

Just as Evans was championing the mainland as a country committed to meeting its obligations as a member of the WTO, Jeffrey Fiedler, consultant to a federation of 66 U.S. labor unions, the AFL-CIO, testifying before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Capitol Hill, was busy ridiculing Beijing’s promises. Please see FRIENDS on page

“(Mainland China) won’t and never intended to” fulfill its WTO commitments, Fiedler told the commission. “China has a dismal record of compliance with bilateral and international agreements,” he continued.

A key reason for ensuring the mainland complies with its WTO obligations, according to commission chairman Senator Max Baucus, is that “China’s membership in the WTO can be an important force driving the development of the rule of law.”

Fiedler vehemently challenged those that say membership of the WTO will force the mainland to implement commercial law and in turn foster the rule of law. Such a belief simply allows U.S. corporations to do business in the mainland with “what they perceive to be equity and predictability,” he said.

According to Fiedler, “there is no rule of law as we know it in China.” He accused the U.S. government of wasting taxpayer’s money to train mainland judges, and slammed Beijing for merely aiming to perpetuate one-party rule. The mainland system, he said, is “designed primarily to maintain power of the Communist Party, and only secondarily to govern the conduct of individuals within society.” Fiedler criticized the U.S. government for remaining silent in the name of business, and being complicit with Beijing in its desire to maintain social stability at all costs. WTO implementation is clearly at odds with the Chinese Communist Party’s aim of maintaining stability and remaining in power, according to Fiedler. Elsewhere on the Hill on Thursday, Assistant Secretary of State for Proliferation, John Wolf, speaking before a Senate subcommittee, defended the U.S. government’s record on managing mainland China’s weapons proliferation activities. In his defense, Wolf stated that the effectiveness of U.S. policy toward nonproliferation worldwide had not been tempered in any way by the war on terrorism or by economic factors. Even when dealing with concerns about proliferation by European allies, the language used on the subject is not always “particularly diplomatic,” he said.