The Senate’s senior Democrat, just back from a trip to China, proposed Sunday that the United States permanently grant China normal trade relations, while continuing to emphasize the importance of human rights.
Sen. Thomas Daschle, the Senate minority leader, said the United States, the world’s only remaining superpower, must develop a better relationship with the strongest country in Asia. That cannot be done, he said, by keeping China’s trade status in uncertainty through annual reviews that use it as the standard for dealing on all other issues.
“We’ve got to demonstrate some balance; 1.2 billion people can’t be ignored,” Daschle said on “Fox News Sunday” a few hours after President Clinton met in Manila, Philippines, with China’s president, Jiang Zemin.
Clinton initially insisted on linking human rights with trade and other issues but reversed himself in 1994.
Daschle, D-S.D., said, “I think MFN is going to be a factor with regard to China for a long time to come. I favor making it permanent. I think we’ve got to get on with it.”
“I don’t know that MFN, the concept of MFN, is really what it used to be. We ought to say normalize relations,” Daschle said. “We ought to have some sort of an acronym for having the normal process of economic interchange in our relations with China and other countries. I think MFN is that today, but I think it’s misnamed.”