Sunday, November 12, 2006

Democrats and China

Sources: CNN Newsweek WashingtonPost Australian News

The recent Democratic sweep into Congress sent shockwaves—throughout not only the United States as traditionally Republican districts switched sides—but also throughout the world. Naturally, China also has taken notice to the potential policy shifts in its powerful economic rival. Beijing is now faced with a Congress likely to be more protectionist and anti-China, and possibly even a Congressional leadership that is willing to issue scathing critiques of China and its human rights record.

These pieces of trade legislation are an important part of the Democratic agenda because of the soaring trade deficit with China (now at $263 billion). Protectionist policies are needed, contends organized labor and the Democrats, because the soaring trade deficit and loss of jobs are a result of Chinese unfair practices. China is indeed becoming nervous, despite a general consensus that the new Congress will not “rock the boat” on China policy. However, certain statements and actions made by new House Majority Leaders Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-California), give reason for China to be indeed nervous. First, Pelosi has opposed Beijing’s bid for the Olympics. Second, she has consistently voted against granting China “Most Favored Nation” status. Finally, she has regularly aired her scathing critiques of the Chinese human rights records. While, again, the likelihood of a significant foreign policy shift on the China-front seem distant, China still remains suspicious. China has approached various high-ranking diplomats to inquire about Ms. Pelosi.

Human rights advocates as long as Taiwanese independence advocates welcomed the Democratic landslide electoral victory. Rep. Pelosi has long been a critic of China. She has attempted to directly hand a letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao demanding the release of jailed dissidents, she has directly protested at Tiananmen Square, and has written that “despots such as [Hu Jintao]” should not be allowed to enter the United States. Democratic senator Charles Schumer has claimed to be the anti-China senator. Democrat Tom Lantos, the likely new chair of the International Relations committee has presented Taiwan president Chen Shui-Bian with awards before.

QUESTION: How would China react to protectionist US policies? What sorts of policy shifts may occur with a Congress that is anti-China, but an administration that is preoccupied with the Middle East?

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