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7/18/97 Graham’s support bolstered pro-MFN effort for China

WASHINGTON (BP)–Supporters of most-favored-nation trading status for China used Billy Graham’s implicit backing to bolster their successful effort in the House of Representatives, according to a recently published report.
A letter from the world-famous evangelist to a congressional supporter of MFN status was utilized as cover by House members who supported American big business’ desire to maintain the status quo on trade with China, World magazine reported in its July 12/19 issue. In the process, Graham aligned himself against other religious and pro-family organizations, such as Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Christian Coalition, the U.S. Catholic Conference and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
The House voted June 24 by 259-173 against a resolution disapproving of President Clinton’s extension of MFN status to China. On July 17, the Senate voted even more convincingly, 77-22, against a similar resolution.
While he did not explicitly endorse MFN for China, Graham said in a June 19 letter to Rep. David Dreier, R.-Calif., he was “in favor of doing all we can to strengthen our relationship with China and its people. China is rapidly becoming one of the dominant economic and political powers in the world, and I believe it is far better for us to keep China as a friend than to treat it as an adversary.
“While I will not be releasing a formal public statement on the MFN debate, you should feel free to share my sentiments with your colleagues.”
Graham also spoke by phone to Dreier, who placed the letter in the Congressional Record, the daily text of the House and Senate proceedings, World reported. Graham wrote after consulting with his son, Ned, who heads the China evangelistic ministry East Gates International. The Grahams’ position is continued trade will help evangelism in China. The younger Graham also spoke by phone with Dreier.
Gary Bauer, president of Family Research Council and the leader of the effort to pull China’s MFN status, told World the efforts by the Grahams were “extremely damaging, in all due respect to both.”
Bauer told World, “We are not going to back off on the China issue. We believe every headline over the next year will make a vote in favor of MFN look silly.”
Christian and pro-family organizations joined with labor unions and human-rights activists to call for the revocation of MFN status for China because of the communist power’s persecution of Christians and other religious adherents, as well as violations of human rights and the government’s one-child population-control policy.