Today's vote by the House of Representatives (259-173) to extend MFN to China unconditionally for another year will no doubt be once again used by the Clinton Administration as a vindication of its overall policy of "constructive engagement." From a human rights perspective, the Administration's policy has been a failure. We welcomed the statement on Hong Kong by the G-8 in Denver this past weekend, and would favor an increase in broadcasting to China.
But the question remains: in place of MFN, what other levers of political and economic pressure is the US willing to use, both bilateral and multilateral, to ensure protection for those willing to publicly challenge Chinese policies, express their own religious and political beliefs, or demand better working conditions? How will the White House engage CEOs of major US corporations to press for improvements, as well as to speak up in favor of civil liberties and the rule of law in Hong Kong after July 1? Now that the MFN vote is behind him, we urge the President to urgently convene separate meetings with CEOs and with key House and Senate members to develop a more effective and credible human rights policy on China.