Pelosi Urges European Union to Continue Arms Embargo on China
Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke yesterday on the House floor in support of a bipartisan resolution urging the European Union to continue enforcing an arms embargo on the People's Republic of China.
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution urging the European Union to maintain its arms embargo on the People's Republic of China.
"I commend International Relations Committee Chairman,Mr. Hyde, and Ranking Member,Mr. Lantos, for bringing this resolution to the floor. They are tremendous leaders on behalf of human rights in China and indeed all over the world. Thank you, Mr. Lantos.
"Almost 16 years ago, the Chinese regime shocked the world as it unleashed its army on its own defenseless people and crushed the peaceful pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square. We know that the human rights situation in China has not significantly improved since the arms embargo was imposed. Even though at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre, it was seared into our conscience, one of the most enduring images of the 20th Century - a picture of a lone man standing before a long line of military tanks.
"We remember how millions of ordinary students, workers and citizens marched in peace, how they raised a Goddess of Democracy in the image of our own Statue of Liberty and how they quoted our own Founding Fathers.
"The United States and the European Union imposed complementary arms embargoes as a direct response to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Civilized governments were outraged at the brutality of the Chinese regime and took a course of action to ensure that our weapons would not be used to harm innocent people in China, Tibet, East Turkistan, Inner Mongolia, and Taiwan.
"For a billion Chinese and Tibetans, freedom remains a dream deferred. Journalists, activists, academics, workers and religious believers are still persecuted and tortured. Beijing is still harassing and arresting dissidents and families of the Tiananmen victims.
"The most recent State Department report on human rights states that the Chinese government's 'human rights record remains poor, and the government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses . . . there was backsliding on key human rights issues.'
"The recent passing of Zhao Ziyang, the former Secretary General of China, reminds the world of the courage of the heroes of Tiananmen. Zhao dared to resist the Chinese Communist Party's decision to crush the pro-democracy movement. "I remind my colleagues, at the time he was the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party.
"He very courageously, just weeks before the massacre, he made a very crucial appeal to the students to leave Tiananmen Square to prevent bloodshed. With tears in his eyes and bullhorn in his hands he apologized to them for having 'come too late.' His courage in opposing military force resulted in his dismissal from the government, his name erased from Chinese history books, and almost 16 years under house arrest, until his recent death.
"The Chinese government has tried to erase the history of Tiananmen and Zhao's legacy, but the world will remember. For all of their power, the regime is afraid of Zhao. They were afraid of him in life, they are afraid of him in death. But the more they try to suppress his message and his courage, the stronger they make him.
"Today, we once again calling on Beijing to release the thousands of Tiananmen activists held to this day and all the prisoners of conscience whose only crime was to demand their basic human rights.
"I commend the Bush Administration for reiterating its support of the U.S. arms embargo. The European Union has showed leadership in fighting for human rights all over the world. Now is not the time to abandon those principles.
"Now I would just like to make this point because I mentioned trade in the beginning. Since the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre, for many years we had the debate on the floor as to whether we could use economic leverage to improve the human rights situation in China. The debate was whether we could use economic leverage to improve the performance of the Chinese regime in regards to fairness in trade with our country, and to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by the regime to unsafe guarded countries.
"That idea was rejected by the Congress and I may say in a bipartisan way. President Bush, President Clinton, and President Bush all shared the same view. But it was wrong then and it's still wrong. The fact is, we didn't use the leverage, and everyone said economic reform is going to lead to political reform. Trade is going to enable the Chinese people to be freer.
"The fact is that hasn't worked and the trade deficit that we thought was giving us leverage in 1989 was $2 billion. This enormous amount of money we thought was going to give us leverage for human rights, improved trade relations, as well as stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The trade deficit today, thanks to this policy, is now $2 billion a week. Not a year, a week. Over $2 billion a week.
"The point I want to make in relationship to the European Union is the following: for a long time, the Chinese government was very clever. They took advantage of the U.S. because we welcomed them with open arms, saying: 'Just flood our markets with your products, maintain your barriers to our products going into China.' China has a huge trade surplus. And where did they spend that surplus? They spent it in Europe and spent it in other parts of the world, using economic leverage for a political purpose. Exactly what they argued against when we wanted to improve human rights, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and improve the trade situation.
"It's no wonder the European Union doesn't have the kind of trade deficit with China that we have, because China buys from the European Union, or they did for at least long enough to get them with the program. And the program is a giant economic power using its economic power to suppress initiatives that make the world safer, that maker people freer, and make trade fairer.
"So I applaud again, the distinguished gentlelady from Florida, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, for her remarks and the leadership of the International Relations Committee for their initiative in bringing this to the floor. I would hope the Bush Administration's statements will now be met with firmness in dealing with the EU that this is important to us. The trade embargo is there for a reason and if it is lifted, the world will be a less safe place."