VIDEO: Key Moments from CECC Hearing on China’s Broken WTO Promises
March 9, 2017
Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), chaired a hearing last week that featured House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Congressman Frank Wolf and other experts on human rights in China examining the broken promises of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Pelosi and Wolf, representing the bipartisan coalition in opposition to granting China Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), testified about the need for the Trump Administration to reprioritize human rights in China. Drawing on lessons learned from the debate over China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) 15 years ago, the witnesses noted that economic engagement and expanded commercial ties have not brought greater political liberalization and improvements to China’s human rights situation. As such, a reassessment of U.S.-China bilateral relations, with a renewed focus on these issues, is long overdue.
Other witnesses included Jeff Gillis, husband of detained American businesswoman Sandy Phan-Gillis; Michael Wessel, Commissioner from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, James Mann, author of The China Fantasy and a Johns Hopkins University fellow, and Sophie Richardson, the China Director from Human Rights Watch.
Partial transcripts and links to videos of some of the hearing’s key moments are below. Full witness testimonies can be found here. Also see the opening statements of the chairs, Senator Rubio and Congressman Smith, and CECC Commissioner Congressman Robert Pittenger, as prepared for delivery. To view hearing webcast, enable Adobe Flash player.
Video: Rubio States the Importance of a Bipartisan Approach to Human Rights (27:00.00–27:22.70)
Rubio: “First of all this is a great opportunity for everyone to see how on this issue of human rights and democracy and respect for trade laws this is really not a partisan issue. You have obviously Leader Pelosi whose been a leader of the Democratic Party and Congressman Wolf has been a consistently conservative Republican and yet this is an issue that unifies and should unify all Americans.”
Rubio: “Yesterday, the Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) met with China’s State Councilor (Yang Jiechi) and the readout of the meeting…included not a single mention of human rights concerns, did not include the names of any political prisoners and the like…From your travel around the world, your interaction with people that have been oppressed by totalitarian regimes everywhere…How critical it is for the voice of the United States, often expressed through the voice of the Secretary of State, or the President or Vice President… that the names of individual prisoners…be named so that people can see this and how much it matters to the oppressed to know that the United States of America, at the highest level, have not forgotten them?”
Video: Key Parts of Pelosi’s Response to Rubio (28:40.43-29:34.37)
Pelosi: “Thank you for your question Senator because it is absolutely essential. The Chinese must go in the backroom and laugh out loud after such a meeting, when for all of our talk about promoting human rights throughout the world, and in this country where we have this big commercial interest—and we are silent. I hope the [read out] is not complete, I would hope our government at every opportunity would talk about human rights in China and Tibet…the reduction of democracy in Hong Kong…and China’s aggressive behavior in other parts of the world, you can’t ignore any of it, but you certainly cannot ignore human rights.”
Video: Key Parts of Wolf’s Response to Rubio (31:14.70 -34:11.47)
Wolf: “I agree…I’ll give you two examples. I met with Natan Sharansky, Sharansky said when people advocated for him, his life got better…Sharansky said it invigorated him…I do not know Mr. Tillerson, I am sure he is going to do a good job, I hope he does, he has an impressive background. But he really has to [speak out] because, as you know, to whom much is given, much is required. He has been given one of the greatest gifts, to be the Secretary of State of America. If he does not advocate for the persecuted in China…He has got to. History will judge him poorly. You need to raise these issues.”
Wessel: “Promoting human rights and the rule of law isn’t just the right thing to do, it is critical to our economic and national security interests. These issues are inextricably intertwined. The failure of the last two Administrations to hold China accountable has essentially granted China a license to steal—our jobs, our economic strength, our national security, and the rights of their people. From human rights, to intellectual property, to the law of the sea, China has ignored international norms and rules, essentially without consequence. The world is less safe, less secure and human rights are increasingly at risk because of China’s refusal to be a responsible stakeholder and our own government’s refusal to hold them accountable for not adhering to the rule of law and the protection and advancement of human rights.”
Mann: “It’s now been exactly 10 years since that book the China Fantasy was published. Sad to say, the third scenario I wrote about is exactly what we see today, a richer, more repressive China. Indeed, over the past few years the regime has been entering into new types of repression—arresting lawyers, severely restricting NGOs, staging televised confessions of those who are detained. What we’re seeing today is, in fact, the opposite of what many American leading politicians and China experts predicted. Development and prosperity have yielded a regime that curtails dissent and independent political activity more than it did 5,10, or 20 years ago. What we are seeing now is what I would call the new China paradigm, one that could apply in other countries such as Turkey or Egypt, which is that in modern authoritarian societies, with a sophisticated security system, the more prosperous and educated a society becomes, and the more stirrings from the public for the development of a civil society, the more repressive the state will become in response in order to prevent greater threats to its control.”
Rubio: “We have learned that what [WTO accession] has done, more than anything else, is to turn a poor totalitarian state into a rich totalitarian state. And, at the expense often of American industry and American principles when it comes to free speech and the like. There is this notion among some in the Chinese Communist Party that our goal is to contain them, it is just not accurate. I don’t feel that way and most Americans would welcome another large powerful nation to shoulder some of the international burdens that we face, but not if that nation’s government has views on human rights and the dignity of all people that are in direct conflict with our founding principles and what we believe are the natural rights of all men and women on this planet. This is why it is so important that America remains engaged in the world and that human rights remain a critical component of our foreign policy. Realpolitik does not work, it always backfires in the end, and I believe will do so again if that is the route we pursue in the 21st century.”