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House passes bills targeting China, promoting freedom

WASHINGTON (BP)–The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a series of bills punishing China for human rights violations and promoting freedom in the world’s largest communist country, only days after Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s largely triumphant visit to the United States.
Among the nine bills passed are measures denying visas for Chinese officials engaged in religious persecution, banning travel to the United States of officials involved in coercive abortion and sterilization, and directing U.S. representatives at the World Bank to oppose below-market subsidies for China.
Rep. Christopher Cox, R.-Calif., author of the legislative package, said in a written release afterward the bills declare “one thing very clearly to the peoples of China: We want you to be free from communism.
“In place of the Clinton administration’s non-policy toward the People’s Republic of China, the Congress has embraced a policy of freedom for the peoples of China and moved beyond the MFN stalemate that has frustrated the development of a coherent approach toward the largest communist nation on earth.”
The House votes followed Jiang’s Oct. 26-Nov. 3 visit to this country, one in which he was met by protesters at several stops but made some policy gains with the White House. After a summit meeting with Jiang Oct. 29, President Clinton, who has promoted a policy of “constructive engagement” with China, announced he would allow American companies to export equipment to Chinese nuclear power plants. In return, China agreed to limit arms exports to and nuclear cooperation with Iran. Clinton also said he would visit China next year and there would be a presidential hotline established between their offices.
Protests focused on the Beijing government’s repression of the Tibetan people, as well as its imprisonment of dissidents in labor camps and its persecution of Christians and other religious adherents. Criticism also was levied for the one-child policy resulting in forced abortions and sterilization and for the execution of prisoners in order to sell their organs for transplant to people in other countries, including the United States.
Jiang’s visit followed a debate this summer over the renewal of most-favored-nation trade status for China. It even divided Christians, with some, including the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, opposing MFN and others, including evangelist Billy Graham, favoring its continuation. The effort to block MFN failed in the House by a 259-173 vote.
In the midst of the House’s action on the last nine bills, the Senate passed a measure from the package, which totals 11 bills, adopted earlier by the House. It requires an annual report by the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation on Chinese espionage in the United States.
In June, the House passed a measure as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act calling for Taiwan to be admitted before China to the World Trade Organization.
The nine bills passed by the House between Nov. 5 and 9 were:
— By a 366-54 vote, a measure denying visas for Chinese officials engaged in religious persecution and blocking the use of foreign-aid funds to underwrite the travel of officials of government-sanctioned church organizations, including the China Christian Council. The president may waive the visa restriction if he determines it to be in the national interest.
— In a 415-1 vote, an initiative banning Chinese officials involved in coercive abortion and sterilization from entering or remaining in this country.
— A bill, which passed 419-2, increasing funding for personnel to enforce the ban on the importation of slave-labor products from China.
— By a 416-5 vote, a measure adding six human rights monitors to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and at least one monitor to each of the five U.S. consulates in China, and calling for the president to block travel in this country by Chinese officials involved in harvesting and selling organs from prisoners.
— An initiative, adopted 401-21, providing funding to enable Radio Free Asia and Voice of America to broadcast 24 hours a day to China.
— By a 354-59 margin, a bill directing U.S. representatives at the World Bank to vote against below-market subsidies for China.
— In a 405-10 vote, a measure authorizing the president to monitor, restrict, seize the assets of and ban companies owned by the Chinese military and operating in the United States.
— A bill, adopted 414-8, calling on the Clinton administration to enforce the Gore-McCain Iran-Iraq Arms Non-proliferation Act, which requires the president to sanction any country that transfers “destabilizing numbers and types” of advanced conventional weapons to these nations. Clinton has waived the law.
— By a 301-116 margin, an initiative requiring the Clinton administration to help Taiwan develop and implement a missile defense system.