House Republicans Push for Permanent Trade With China

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Washington, DC ( House Republican leaders came out swinging Thursday in a push for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Communist China. Many Republicans believe America can benefit from trade with that Asian nation, especially in the high-tech area.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), told a Capitol Hill news conference PNTR with China is part of the Republican Congress'' commitment to keep the American economy growing.

"This is about fairness for American workers. Normal trade relations with China are necessary for American businesses to compete on a level playing field. If we don''t pass this legislation, European and Japanese companies will have open access to Chinese markets - the same markets that America''s (trade) negotiators worked on and put together - but American businesses will be shut out," Hastert said.

Hastert emphasized that America''s high-tech industry is counting on fair access to the Chinese marketplace. "It means more exports for American business and more jobs for Americans. Fair trade with China is good news for the high-tech industry," Hastert said.

House Republican Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) said PNTR with China will help in getting a free flow of information into that communist nation.

"The free flow of information is the most powerful weapon we can give to people trapped within fading, repressive, political states. As ideas from the free world flow into China, we can begin counting down the remaining days of Communist leadership in Beijing," DeLay said. "While American high-tech companies have outperformed the world and will have new opportunities through PNTR, their products have even greater value, as the most dangerous threat to totalitarian schemes ever developed."

Delay continued, "I believe that if we give the Chinese people a real choice between democracy and oppression, democracy wins, going away. We hold the winning hand and we will prevail if we just have the courage to trust our own convictions and the lessons of history."

House International Relations Commitee Chairman Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) has reservations about PNTR for China, concerned about what he calls China''s poor track record of abiding by its present agreements with the US in trade, prison labor and proliferation areas."

Others opposing the legislation include former Republican Presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who says a permanent normalizing of trade with China would "throw away the little leverage we currently have over China''s Communist oligarchs. Bauer says "Beijing daily oppresses its citizens, threatens democatic Taiwan and pursues an arms buildup not seen in Asia since the emergence of the Japanese Empire in the years immediately preceding World War II.

A House vote on the PNTR measure is expected the week of May 22nd.