MEDIA WATCH: Chinese trade bill garners widespread approval

Passage of trade legislation in House and Senate committees last week intensified debate in the media over the pros and cons of establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China. This legislation, which would make China a permanent trading partner with the US, has made strange bedfellows between agricultural and hi-tech business leaders and Democrats and Republicans alike.

Passage of trade legislation in House and Senate committees last week intensified debate in the media over the pros and cons of establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China. This legislation, which would make China a permanent trading partner with the US, has made strange bedfellows between agricultural and hi-tech business leaders and Democrats and Republicans alike.

Passage of trade legislation in House and Senate committees last

week intensified debate in the media over the pros and cons of

establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China. This

legislation, which would make China a permanent trading partner with the

US, has made strange bedfellows between agricultural and hi-tech

business leaders and Democrats and Republicans alike.



According to research by CARMA International, the majority of commentary

expressed the belief that trade with China would help further democracy

there. Spokespeople in both the Republican and Democratic parties,

including President Clinton and Gov. George W. Bush, conveyed their

beliefs that trade with China would benefit not just the American

economy, but the citizens of China. ’Trade is a lever that will nudge

the Chinese people toward democratic change,’ said Bush (The Washington

Times, May 18).



The media also outlined the ways in which PNTR might benefit the US

economy.



Journalists cited reduction of the trade deficit with China and more

American jobs as two possible results. Congressional leaders gave a

human face to the discussions by giving examples from their home states

of farmers and blue-collar workers who will benefit. Minnesota Gov.

Jesse Ventura spoke of his own farm and others: ’I’ve met with all our

leaders of agriculture.



I’ve had ag leaders tell me over the next 10 years this could literally

double what we’re able to sell right now’ (CNBC, May 17). These

sentiments were shared by Hewlett-Packard president and CEO Carly

Fiorina, whose editorial in the Los Angeles Times (May 18) stated: ’In

reality, a vote against trade with China is a vote against US

businesses.’



Opponents to the legislation most often expressed their conviction that

China should be boycotted for human rights violations and security

reasons.



Critics, such as potential Reform Party presidential candidate Pat

Buchanan, accused Congress of ’throwing away its leverage over China at

the very moment the Chinese are threatening Taiwan with war and even

threatening our country’ (ABC, May 17). Proponents answered this

criticism by pointing to China’s recent negotiations with the WTO. The

media reported that if the US did not engage in trade with China, others

would.



There was little criticism of PNTR regarding the possible negative

economic impacts for the American economy. ’Basically, big business is

trying to harness the power of the US government to help it edge out

other countries and get in on the ground floor of privatization in

China,’ said Judy Ancel of the Institute for Labor Studies at the

University of Missouri-Kansas City (The Kansas City Star, May 18). Union

leaders were criticized for engaging in party politics on a bipartisan

issue, and some outlets reported that the US, in fact, has ’nothing to

lose by granting permanent normal trade status with China’ (The Boston

Globe, May 18).



The media mirrored the House and Senate committees by expressing

overwhelming support for the legislation. Highlighting this issue as one

of the most truly bipartisan to come to the floor in years, media

reports pointed to globalization as proof that the US cannot afford to

take an isolationist stance against China.





Evaluation and analysis by CARMA. Media Watch can be found at

www.carma.com.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.