On March 18, 2021, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), and Rick Scott (R-Florida) introduced the China Trade Relations Act to strip China of its Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status and return to the pre-2001 system. If passed, the legislation would require China to obtain Most Favored Nation (MFN) status through annual presidential approval, per the requirements of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. The bill would also expand the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to include human rights and trade abuses as disqualifying factors for MFN status. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Chris Smith (R-New Jersey).
“For twenty years, China has held permanent most-favored-nation status, which has supercharged the loss of American manufacturing jobs. It’s time to protect American jobs and hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their forced labor camps and egregious human rights violations,” said Cotton.
“I said it 20 years ago and I will say it again: we cannot allow the pursuit of trade to blind us to certain realities about the ruling Communist regime in China. China repeatedly threatens the United States and Taiwan. With an increasingly hostile military modernization effort, and the stealing of U.S. nuclear secrets and other critical technologies, China has made numerous attempts to corrupt the U.S. political system. Not to mention, they have violated far too many international agreements and are known globally for their brutal repression of dissidents and disregard for human rights. To continue to ignore these actions as if they can be separated from what we do in our trading relationship is dangerously misguided. Ending China’s permanent preferential trade relationship will send a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party and will support American workers,” said Inhofe.
“The Obama/Biden appeasement of Communist China did nothing but bolster General Secretary Xi’s power and kill American jobs. I have fought every day since being elected to the Senate to promote human rights and make sure Communist China faces consequences for its aggression. I am proud to join my colleagues to continue this important work of protecting Americans from the threat of Communist China and its unfair trade practices, and holding General Secretary Xi accountable for his horrific human rights abuses,” said Scott.
- The Senate voted to give China permanent most-favored-nation status on September 19, 2000. This vote paved the way for China’s accession to the World Trade Organization.
- Granting China this trade status contributed to the “China Trade Shock” that destroyed 2 million American jobs after 2001. It also led to a surge of business investment in China that made the CCP stronger and more dangerous.
The China Trade Relations Act
- The China Trade Relations Act would revoke China’s permanent most-favored-nation status and return to the pre-2001 status quo, whereby China’s MFN status must be renewed each year by presidential decision. Congress could override the president’s extension of MFN by passing a joint resolution of disapproval.
- The bill also would expand the list of human-rights and trade abuses under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment that would disqualify China for MFN status, absent a presidential waiver. The abuses that would make China ineligible for MFN status, absent a presidential waiver, are as follows:
- Uses or provides for the use of slave labor;
- Operates ‘vocational training and education centers’ or other concentration camps where people are held against their will;
- Performs or otherwise orders forced abortion or sterilization procedures;
- Harvests the organs of prisoners without their consent;
- Hinders the free exercise of religion;
- Intimidates or harasses nationals of the People’s Republic of China living outside the People’s Republic of China; or
- Engages in systematic economic espionage against the United States, including theft of the intellectual property of United States persons.