Should the US impose economic sanctions on China as an incentive to improve its human rights policies?
Candidates' positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found. Candidates who have changed their positions are listed as Now their most recent position. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by party; black & white photos indicate candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria.)
Chuck Baldwin, Founder and Minister of the Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL, issued the following statement through his Communications Director, Mary Starrett, in an Aug. 11, 2008 email to ProCon.org:
"The U.S. should terminate most-favored-nation (PNTR) status for Communist China, and discontinue technology transfers to the Beijing regime." Aug. 11, 2008 Chuck Baldwin
Bob Barr, former US House Representative (R-GA), stated in an Apr. 9, 2001 article titled "Re-evaluating the Failed Experiment of Engagement with China" on his US House of Representatives website:
"During last year's debate over Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with the People's Republic of China (PRC), supporters of PNTR told the American people that active engagement, a partnership for the future, was in the best interests of the United States. We were told it would promote democratization, improve human rights, promote free enterprise, and most importantly for our national interests, make the PRC less threatening to our country and our interests in the region. Reading the papers last year and this year, this week particularly, I see nothing to support these statements.
Communist China was, and still is, the world's worst human rights abuser. It is a Communist dictatorship...
I deeply opposed PNTR when it was passed ten months ago, and I continue to oppose it." Apr. 9, 2001 Bob Barr
John McCain, US Senator (R-AZ), stated in a May 1, 2007 article titled "Senator McCain Addresses the Hoover Institution on US Foreign Policy" on his official campaign website:
"Democracy and freedom continue to flourish around the world, but there have been some discouraging trends. In China, despite miraculous economic growth and a higher standard of living for many millions of Chinese, hopes for an accompanying political reform have diminished. The ruling party seems determined to dominate political life, and as in the past, the talk is of order, not democracy, the supremacy of the party not of the people. China astonishes the world with its economic and technological modernization, but then spends billions trying to control that great icon of the modern era, the internet. China recognizes its vital interest in economic integration with the democratic world. But it has also joined Russia in hindering international efforts to put pressure on dictators in Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, and other pariah states. China expresses its desire for a stable peace in East Asia, but it continues to increase its military might, fostering distrust and concerns in the region about Beijing's ambitions. We must insist that China use its newfound power responsibly at home and abroad." May 1, 2007 John McCain
Ralph Nader, attorney, author, and political activist, wrote in a June 21, 2004 article "The China Price," published on CommonDreams.org:
"Consider the irony. Here are US corporations -- pampered for years with lower taxes, de-regulation, and taxpayer subsidies of various kinds -- aggressively turning their backs on America and American workers in favor of production facilities inside a communist dictatorship. A self-described conservative, President George W. Bush is not only silent but is presiding over policies that favor such flight to China and other low-wage, authoritarian regimes.By bringing these regimes into the World Trade Organization (backed by Clinton and Bush) and by Congress providing China with most-favored nation status, Uncle Sam's hands are quite tied. There is no more tying trade to human rights standards by the United States." June 21, 2004 Ralph Nader
Barack Obama, US Senator (D-IL), stated at the Dec. 4, 2007 Democratic Candidates' Debate in Des Moines, IA, hosted by National Public Radio (NPR):
"...I am interested, as I said, in making sure that the Chinese population is fed and clothed and advancing. I think that is important. It is not, I think, in the long-term interests of China to expand solely on the backs of lowwage worker ? work that is undermining US work. If we are saying to China, raise your labor standards that will over time improve the lot of Chinese workers as well as US workers. And that's what we should be looking at, is how can we improve the working conditions, the safety conditions, the consumer protections that are available for all people, and that's not what's happening right now." Dec. 4, 2007 Barack Obama
(Candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria appear below in black and white and in alphabetical order by party.)
Hillary Clinton, US Senator (D-NY), stated in an Apr. 7, 2008 press release titled "Statement by Hillary Clinton on Olympics" on her official candidate website:
"The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for Presidential leadership. These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China. At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government.
I encourage the Chinese to take advantage of this moment as an opportunity to live up to universal human aspirations of respect for human rights and unity, ideals that the Olympic games have come to represent." Apr. 7, 2008 Hillary Clinton
Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City, stated in an article titled "Toward a Realistic Peace: Defending Civilization and Defeating Terrorists by Making the International System Work" in the Sep./Oct. 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs:
"US relations with China and Russia will remain complex for the foreseeable future. Americans have no wish to return to the tensions of the Cold War or to launch a new one. We must seek common ground without turning a blind eye to our differences with these two countries. Like America, they have a fundamental stake in the health of the international system. But too often, their governments act shortsightedly, undermining their long-term interest in international norms for the sake of near-term gains. Even as we work with these countries on economic and security issues, the US government should not be silent about their unhelpful behavior or human rights abuses. Washington should also make clear that only if China and Russia move toward democracy, civil liberties, and an open and uncorrupted economy will they benefit from the vast possibilities available in the world today." Sep./Oct. 2007 Rudy Giuliani
Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, in an Apr. 9, 2007 TIME magazine article titled "More Questions with Mike Huckabee," stated:
"The good news is that China is becoming much more a part of the mainstream. In its economic development and even in giving greater liberties to its people. But the urgent news is that China needs to play by all the rules that we are expected to play by, in terms of trade, protection of intellectual property rights and the decent treatment of workers. I am not as worried about China, though we have to be concerned about any nation that has the military and economic power that it does." Apr. 9, 2007 Mike Huckabee
ProCon.org emailed the Imperato campaign on Feb. 22, 2008 with this question. Mr. Imperato provided a response to this question and 26 others during a recorded 45-minute telephone interview with ProCon.org on Mar. 11, 2008. On Mar. 21, 2008 Mr. Imperato no longer met our eligibility criteria for inclusion on this site, and we stopped transcribing his verbal responses as of that date.
Alan Keyes, former Assistant US Secretary of State, stated in a YouTube video of the Alan Keyes Show (accessed Apr. 7, 2008):
"The fact that [Bill Clinton] went over [to Beijing, China] totally legitamized the repressive rule of a bunch of people who have no respect for human life, kill all of their opponents..." Apr. 7, 2008 Alan Keyes
Steve Kubby, a Libertarian candidate and founder of the American Medical Marijuana Association, stated in a Jan. 31, 2008 email to ProCon.org:
"No. The best incentive for improving respect for human rights in China comes from an upwardly mobile Chinese populace. A starving slave may lash out, but the people who come together in an organized fashion to achieve real change are those who have tasted freedom and comparative wealth and want MORE of both. Look at America's civil rights movement. It didn't gain its traction during the Great Depression. It took off in the post-war boom period.
When we trade with China, we help ourselves -- and we help the Chinese people. They get food in their stomachs. They get money in the bank. They get leisure time from what used to be a hand-to-mouth existence. They finally have something to lose -- and the means to fight to keep it." Jan. 21, 2008 Steve Kubby
Frank McEnulty, an Independent candidate and President of Our Castle Homes, in a Jan. 24, 2008 email to ProCon.org, stated:
"No. The only way to improve the human rights of others is through constructive engagement and that includes trade. As we continue to do business with China and other nations with poor human rights records, the people of those nations will see a continued increase in their standard of living which will allow them to demand an improvement in their rights.
Taken another way, how would we react if Europe decided to impose economic sanctions against the United States because we still have the death penalty, something they strongly believe is a violation of human rights?" Jan. 24, 2008 Frank McEnulty
Ron Paul, US Representative (R-TX), stated in a Apr. 18, 2006 articlet titled "Sanctions Against Iran" on LewRockwell.com:
"Make no mistake about it: Economic sanctions are acts of aggression. Sanctions increase poverty and misery among the very poorest inhabitants of targeted nations, and they breed tremendous resentment against those imposing them. But they rarely hurt the political and economic elites responsible for angering American leaders in the first place." Apr. 18, 2006 Ron Paul
[Editor's Note: In addition to Ron Paul's Con position on sanctions, we have provided the following quote, taken directly from his official campaign website on Jan. 28, 2008, describing his positions on human rights in China and US economic support of China.
"Each year the people of the United States write a check to subsidize China, one of the most brutal, anti-American regimes in the world. Lately it has been in vogue for everyone in Washington to eagerly denounce the egregious abuses of the Chinese people at the hands of their communist dictators...
I offered an amendment before the House of Representatives last month that would have ended the $4 billion subsidy our nation quietly gives China through the US government's Export-Import Bank. The bank underwrites the purchases of goods and services by the Chinese government and others around the world. Unfortunately, only a minority of Democrats or Republicans supported my measure. Apparently, many members of Congress are happy to bash China, but don?t mind lending her US taxpayer money at sweetheart interest rates...
In reality, there is very little the federal government can do about conditions in China. Under our Constitution, the federal government simply does not have the authority to point a gun at Chinese leaders and force them to respect the principles of liberty. It just doesn't work that way."]
Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, stated in a Dec. 14, 2006 article titled "A Primary Factor: Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in an Exclusive Pre-Christmas 2006 Interview" on National Review Online:
"I believe in building bridges not walls. We specifically addressed the detention of a Massachusetts citizen, Yang Jianli, with Chinese officials and we asked for special attention and consideration for his early release. Working with China on our own security interests ? including the isolation of North Korea ? must not be at the expense of our commitment to freedom and basic human rights." Dec. 14, 2006 Mitt Romney