Debate Continues Over China's Most-Favored-Nation Status
The opinion-page article "Repairing the US-China Relationship," April 30, misses the point.
While the debate continues over whether to unconditionally renew China's most-favored-nation (MFN) status, articles such as this one continue to misinform the public.
After MFN status was extended to China in 1980, there was little debate until the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. That highly publicized incident demonstrated to the world that China still had little regard for human rights despite significant economic development. Some have argued against linking human rights to trade policy because it will not only undermine US-Chinese relations and severely damage China's economy, but will also aggravate the human rights situation in China.
However, the United States must think of the long-term effects of leaving human rights out of the purview of its international trade policy, not only in China, but with all its trading partners. Foreign policy has become a very complex system, in which every facet is related to another. To ignore human rights while discussing trade is inconsistent with the US's ultimate objective to embrace China as a global ally and trading partner.
But this past year has also shown that China is sensitive to world opinion. The Fourth World Conference on Women and the NGO Forum were both a success, despite attempts by the government to suppress NGOs and individuals that promote human rights. Activist Harry Wu was arrested, but then released after significant international pressure.
In March, Amnesty International kicked off an international campaign to address human rights violations in China. They are urging businesses that deal with China to ensure that their working practices in China set an example to others by respecting the fundamental human rights of their employees, particularly the right to free speech and association.
In June, Amnesty International USA will hold its Annual General Meeting in Washington, and Harry Wu and Liu Gang will be on hand to lead a demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy.
But demonstrations are not enough. Not only should American companies set an example, but so should the American leadership.
The United States would not do business with Cuba or Iraq without evidence of real reforms, nor should it do so with China.
Member of Amnesty International
Cuba's economy bounces back
I would like to make some clarifications in the opinion-page article "Cuba: Not What Investors' Dreams Are Made Of," April 26.
After the disappearance of the former Soviet Union six years ago, many predicted the collapse of the Cuban economy and the end of our revolution. Nevertheless, the Cuban economy increased 7 percent in 1994 and 2.5 percent in 1995, proof of the country's capacity and willingness to recover.
The European Union is Cuba's most important partner. We've established strong ties with Latin America and the Caribbean, which have become the second commercial partners. Our economic relations have also widened with other countries.
These achievements have not come at the expense of national health care, education, and social security. A health-care system deemed as unique for Latin America and covering the whole country is available. Medical services are free for all Cubans.
In foreign relations, Cuba has tripled the international official links we had in 1959, when there were diplomatic ties with 51 states. Today, Cuba maintains diplomatic links with 156 countries.
We are convinced that the time has come to take a new approach and a more pragmatic and realistic position toward Cuba, because it is clear that some people are worried about missed investment opportunities in one of the most attractive emerging markets in the Caribbean.
Cuban Interests Section
Embassy of Switzerland
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