DIRECTIONS: Use the following statements as an introductory questionnaire. Ask students if they agree or disagree and to give reasons for their views. The questionnaire may be used again to measure changes in views at the conclusion of your instruction about the W70. It may also be used to survey the views of others, as discussion or debate topics, or as topics for further research.
Use the following
questions for discussion starters or after a lesson on the World Trade
Organization. With some modifications, these may also be used as topics
for debate or research. Alternately, have students represent individual
countries or special-interest groups and respond or discuss these issues
from that perspective.
Write a statement indicating why some situations should be regulated by international agreements and explain how and why you think this should be done.
DIRECTIONS: Give students the statements having to do with the admission of China into the WTO. Have them read this information as well as conduct further research. Have each student write a brief response favoring or opposing the admission of China into the WTO. Then form groups including members with both opinions-those who favor and those who oppose China-to discuss and, if possible, reach agreement. Conduct a class discussion as if it were the US Congress debating and deciding this issue.
An alternative approach would be to assign students to represent the US Department of State, a business group, or a labor group, to respond to this question.
Debriefing questions might include: Should China be admitted to the WTO? Who benefits if China is admitted to the WTO? Who is harmed? If admitted, how will conditions in China change? Will the WTO change? Is it in the US national interest to support, or oppose, admitting China?
Briefing: The People's Republic of China is the largest country in the world. Its economy is the fourth largest in the world and for the past several years it has been seeking admission into the WTO. As a member China would again credibility as a trading nation and gain greater access to international marketplaces.
To become a WTO member, China has to make separate trade agreements with the major trading powers-the United States, Japan, and the European Union. Agreement was reached with the US in 1999 but still needs approval by the US Congress. Without doubt, this will be a controversial issue; debate will focus on concerns over a rising trade deficit, national security, transfer of sensitive technology, the question of Taiwan, the occupation of Tibet, suppression of labor rights and human rights issues.
OPINION: CHINA SHOULD BE ADMITTED
China's emergence as a trade power is significant to the US and the world. Only six nations do not have normal trade relations with the US-Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Serbia-Montenegro, and Vietnam. It is in the interest of the United States to see China join the WTO. How we engage China will determine whether it becomes fully integrated into the global economy and begins to accept international norms and institutions. The alternative is isolated and unpredictable behavior.
Having China in the WTO means having that country participate in a rules-based trading system. To meet WTO requirements, China must make laws public, require judicial review of all trade actions, apply all trade laws uniformly, and submit to WTO dispute settlement to ensure compliance with WTO rules.
China’s membership in the WTO will open its market to other countries for the sale of more goods and services. China will have to lower tariffs, eliminate quotas and other barriers, and allow greater access to its consumers. Membership will mean more US goods and services will be sold in one of the world's fastest growing economies. For nearly every product or service we offer, there is a supplier in Europe or Asia that could also provide that product or service. We should not lose this opportunity to our competitors.
Trade will mean change in China. China's economic ties with the US have been a key part of China’s turn toward the market economy and away from self-isolation. This has brought massive social reform and economic advance for China’s people. Cutting US economic ties would turn the clock back in China, strengthening repressive political interests. Economic reform and development force a society to become more politically and culturally open. Membership in the WTO will give China an incentive to keep its word and maintain the rule of law.
US business contributes to progressive change in China. US firms bring to China ideas, work styles, management methods, adherence to market economies, commitment to the free flow of information, dedication to environmental responsibility and worker safety, and other American ways of doing business.
The US can have trade relations with China and still have fundamental disagreements with China on specific issues. But that doesn't mean that we have to give up our principles.
OPINION: CHINA SHOULD NOT BE ADMITTED
Membership in WTO would constitute an undeserved stamp of approval for China's dismal record on human rights, its weapons proliferation and trade in nuclear technology, and its chronic violations of trade agreements.
China’s record over many years demonstrates that it cannot be trusted to honor its trade agreements. There is concern about China’s compliance with the agreements that have been made by China, for example the 1992 agreement on intellectual property rights. China did not keep its word and the US has threatened sanctions.
China’s human rights violations have increased even as it has begun to open its economy. In 1998 dozens of Chinese were arrested attempting to form a political party. Leaders of the China Democracy Party were sentenced to lengthy jail terms in closed trials that violated due process. Forced labor remains a serious problem and China continues to export prison-made goods, despite an official ban. There have been recent crackdowns on religious freedom, a campaign to suppress the Falun Gong, control on "unregistered" churches, and repression of political and religious expression of ethnic minorities such as the people of Tibet. Amnesty International reports that more people are executed every year in China than in all other countries of the world combined.
Large corporations and special interests say that the US should keep the issues of trade and human rights with China separate, but they are related. Increased market access for Chinese products enriches the oppressive government and strengthens its political hold over the country. Profit from trade and investment benefits the Communist system and much of that money is used to upgrade their military facilities and invest in their control of the population.
Chinese weapons proliferation should not be rewarded with the political plum of WTO membership. China's espionage and trade in arms threatens American and international security. Much evidence points to Chinese spying and theft of nuclear secrets at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. US intelligence sources report that China has shipped specialized equipment to Pakistan for making nuclear weapons. China has also provided anti-ship cruise missiles and parts for Iran.
Source: Adapted from WTO Trade Winds Project, "China and the WTO. " World Affairs Council (World Trade Center 2200 Alaskan Way, Suite 450, Seattle, WA 98121).