Friday, February 24, 2017

Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing: "The Broken Promises of China’s WTO Accession: Reprioritizing Human Rights"

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) tends to be a good barometer of legislative thinking about China in the United States. Not that this thinking is either coherent or well directed. But it does represent the way in which U.S. "China expert" elites and their legislative masters develop "knowledge" about China. This knowledge is then used to shape U.S. policy and legislative approaches U.S. China relations. It also suggests the way that U.S. ideological thinking shapes the way in which China is viewed as understood by the United States.

This characterization is not meant to suggest a personal position on either the outlook or work of the CECC, or of its advisers. That characterization, however, does suggest that ideological blinders tend to tell us more about the U.S. (in this case) than it does about the Chinese. But if course the same is true of Chinese organs with a similar purpose aimed the the United States. It is with the object of helping to understanding American construction of China, rather than of helping to understand Chinese constructions of themselves (however "flawed" either exercise may be in and of itself and to itself), that this is offered.

One notes only that trade has always been weaponized  as an element of politics--the legalization of that weaponization after 1945 offered at least the appearance of predictability and stabilization, that is of the marketization of politics (that is of conflict) among states so that the rest of us might better maximize our own welfare within and between these battles. It is becoming clearer, now, that legalization in furtherance of a regulatory governance structure within which these political contests could be managed is itself weakening. Perhaps this conference provides a window on to the mechanics and trajectory of that change.

The CECC, under the Chairship of former Presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FLA) has just announced hearings on the Chinese engagement with world trade in general, and the World Trade Organization regime in particular. The "concept note" for the hearings and the tentative list of witnesses follows.

The Broken Promises of China’s WTO Accession: Reprioritizing Human Rights

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
2–4 p.m. EST
216 Hart Senate Office Building

In joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) 15 years ago, the Chinese government made commitments that were important not only for China’s commercial development around the world, but also for its development of political reforms and the rule of law at home. The Chinese economy has benefited greatly from the international rules-based system, but the Chinese Communist Party continues to reject the notion that the rule of law should supersede the Party’s role in leading the state, impeding its ability to abide by its WTO commitments and transition to market economy status. China has largely failed to implement the substantive legal reforms anticipated 15 years ago, and has persisted in violating international human rights standards with lasting harm to both U.S. interests and the Chinese people.

Contrary to what many proponents of normalized trade relations argued at the time, increased commercial ties have failed to yield improvements in human rights and the rule of law, causing many long-time China watchers to call for new thinking on U.S.-China policy. While the Trump Administration has thus far stressed the trade dimension of the bilateral relationship, this hearing will explore the interconnectivity between a China that honors its varied international commitments and abides by the rule of law at home—gleaning lessons from the past 30 years of U.S.-China relations.

This Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing can be viewed via webcast at the following link.


Panel 1
Representative Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader
Representative Frank R. Wolf (Ret.)

Panel 2
Michael R. Wessel, President, The Wessel Group & Commissioner, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
James Mann, Johns Hopkins SAIS & author of The China Fantasy and other books on China and U.S. foreign policy
Jeff Gillis, Husband of American businesswoman Sandy Phan-Gillis, detained in China for the past two years
Sophie Richardson, China Director, Human Rights Watch

*******Additional Witnesses May be Added

MEDIA CONTACT: Scott Flipse, 202-226-3777

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