- CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters)
- Taking the final step to normalize U.S.-Chinese trade ties, President
Bush on Thursday formally granted China the same low-tariff levels the
United States extends to nearly all other nations.
- The White House said Bush had signed a proclamation
China "permanent normal trading relations" as of Jan. 1, 2002,
a formality that follows more than a decade of negotiations and
approval for the move last year.
- The White House said Bush also ended the application
of the Jackson-Vanik provisions, which require communist nations to show
they do not restrict emigration before they can have normal trading
with the United States, to China.
- Despite stiff opposition from labor and human rights
groups, the U.S. Congress last year passed legislation to give China
normal trading relations and end the 20-year annual Washington ritual of
reviewing China's trade status.
- In exchange for the lower-tariff benefits, China agreed
to open a range of markets from agriculture to telecommunications under
the terms of a landmark deal Beijing negotiated with the administration
of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
- Bush signed the proclamation on Thursday at his Crawford,
Texas ranch, where he is on vacation, the White House said.
- "Taking effect Jan. 1, 2002, this is the final step
in normalizing U.S.-China trade relations and in welcoming China into a
global, rules-based trading system," the White House said in a
- "It marks the completion of more than a decade of
bilateral and multilateral negotiations and the beginning of a process
of working constructively with China to help it fully implement its
on trade liberalization," it added.
- Last year, the U.S. Congress approved granting China
"permanent normal trade relations" (PNTR) putting it on a par
with most other U.S. trading partners. But the deal hinged on Beijing's
entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- The White House said Congress had approved the step
to the president's certification that the final terms for China's entry
to the Geneva-based WTO were at least equal to those agreed to by China
and the United States in 1999.
- The White House said Bush made that certification on
Nov. 9 and that China had formally joined the WTO on Dec. 11.
- The PNTR legislation, signed into law by Clinton last
year, was hailed at the time as a victory for U.S. companies like Microsoft
Corp. and Boeing Co. which hope it will lead to billions of dollars in
new sales in the Chinese market, potentially the world's largest, with
1.3 billion consumers.
- However, it was regarded as a defeat for labor unions
and other critics of Beijing, who argued that granting permanent normal
trade relations would strengthen a communist government that abuses its
workers, threatens Taiwan, spreads weapons of mass destruction and
stole U.S. nuclear secrets.