China Vote

May 22, 2000

Today Congress will vote on whether to grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. The debate will be contentious as well as uncertain. As I write this commentary, neither side appears to have the 218 votes needed for passage.

Business interests are pushing for passage because they see more than 70 million Chinese using cellular phones and 20 million on the Internet. Many more of the 1.3 billion Chinese are certain to buy high-tech goods and services from the United States.

But lingering in the background are troubling concerns with China. Chinese arms buildup, threats toward Taiwan, military spying, and human rights are just a few of the deeply felt concerns. Human rights abuses and religious persecution are major concerns. Consider the plight of just a few prominent Chinese.

Li Wangyang was sentenced to 13 years in prison. His crime: leading the Shaoyang Worker's Autonomous Federation. In other words, leading a workers union that would be legal in just about any other country in the world . . . except China.

Hu Shigen is guilty of a similar so-called "crime." He was the leader of the Free Labor Union of Chin China. He is seriously ill, and still has 12 more years to serve in Beijing No. 2 prison under the charge of "counterrevolutionary crimes."

Chen Zixiu was a follower of Falun Dafa. She was told to renounce her faith while tortured with repeated jolts of a cattle prod. Later she was forced to run barefoot in the snow after days of torture. She eventually collapsed and died.

This is what life is like for many Chinese citizens. When Congress casts its vote for Permanent Normal Trade Relations, I pray Congress will consider the plight of the Chinese people.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.