CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
China: Pending Legislation
in the 105th Congress
Updated June 19, 1998
Specialist in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs and National Defense
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
The 105th Congress has been active on issues involving China. This report, which will be
updated as developments occur, tracks pending human rights legislation, including bills
concerning: prison conditions and prison labor exports (H.R. 2195, H.R. 2358); coercive
abortion practices (H.R. 2570); China’s policies toward religion (H.R. 967, H.R. 2431); and
more general human rights issues (H.R. 2095). Other bills concern Taiwan — in particular,
Taiwan’s entry into the World Trade Organization (H.Res. 190) and the U.S. role in helping
Taiwan with a theater missile defense system (H.R. 2386). Also, legislation is pending on
China’s missile proliferation activities (H.Res. 188), Radio Free Asia broadcasting to China
(H.R. 2232), China’s participation in multilateral institutions (H.R. 1712, H.R. 2605), and
the activities of China’s military and intelligence services (H.R. 2647, H.R. 2190). Finally,
there are also several multiple-issue bills, such as the Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 3616),
the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1757), the China Policy Act (S. 1164), and the
U.S.-China Relations Act (S. 1303), which combine some, or even most, of these issues.
China: Pending Legislation in the 105th Congress
Congressional interest in China increased in intensity beginning in mid-1997.
Early in November 1997, the House passed a package of China-related bills by a wide
margin, and these are now being considered in the Senate. Many of the measures are
strongly opposed by the Administration, which in October of 1997 completed the first
official Sino-U.S. summit of the Clinton presidency and the first visit to Washington
of a Chinese leader since 1985. The number of bills and the diversity of their
approaches suggest significant divisions within the Congress about the direction of
U.S. China policy. In addition, on June 9, 1998, Representative Solomon introduced
H.Res. 463, to create a Select Committee on U.S. National Security and
Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China. The move is in
response to allegations that Loral Space and Communications, a U.S. company which
received a presidential waiver of satellite export restrictions to China, may have
provided China with sensitive information in 1996 capable of improving China's
missile launch capabilities.
As in past years, Members of the 105th Congress have offered legislation
protesting aspects of China’s human rights record. These measures include bills
dealing with prison labor exports; coercive abortion practices; and religious
intolerance. An additional set of bills concerns Taiwan — in particular, offering
policy prescriptions about Taiwan’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO)
and about the U.S. role in helping Taiwan to defend itself from military aggression.
Also, there is legislation concerning China’s missile proliferation activities, technology
transfer issues, Radio Free Asia broadcasting to China, and U.S. support for
multilateral development bank loans to China. Many of these are stand-alone
measures. But there are also several multiple-issue bills, such as the Foreign Relations
and Defense Authorization Acts, which combine some, or even most, of these issues.
In general, the pending legislation on China offers one of two approaches: either
an assertive, sanction-oriented approach to China that requires punitive U.S. actions;
or a less punitive approach that, while targeting many of the same issues, leans more
heavily on sense-of-Congress language. In committee markups, leadership meetings,
and on the floor, Congress has been debating the differing legislative approaches. In
the House, many harsher measures were toned down in committee consideration,
while new, punitive measures were sometimes introduced to replace them. In
addition, several more comprehensive bills have been introduced in the Senate, which
has not acted on any of the House bills. Given the recent concerns that U.S.
corporations may have transferred U.S. satellite and missile technology to China, and
President Clinton's impending trip to China in late June 1998, Congress is likely to
continue to remain actively involved on China matters.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Policy Issues and Legislative Initiatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Human Rights Measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
S.Res. 187/H.Res. 364, The U.N. Commission on Human Rights
Prison Labor/Prison Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
H.R. 2195, Slave Labor Products Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
H.R. 2358, Political Freedom in China Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Forced Abortion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
H.R. 2570, Coercive Abortion Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Religious Freedom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
H.R. 967, Free the Clergy Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
H.R. 2431, Freedom From Religious Persecution Act of 1998 . . 6
Issues Relating to Taiwan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
H.R. 2386, U.S.-Taiwan Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Cooperation
Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
H.Res. 190, Taiwan Membership the World Trade Organization
(WTO) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
The Missile Proliferation Issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
H.Res. 188, Cruise Missile Proliferation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Radio Free Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
H.R. 2232, Radio Free Asia Act of 1997 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Security Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
H.Res. 463, Select Committee on U.S. National Security and
Military/Commercial Concerns With the People's Republic of
China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
H.R. 2647, PLA Monitoring Legislation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
H.R. 2190, Report on PRC Intelligence Activities . . . . . . . . . . . 10
H.R. 3616 (Spence)/S. 2057 (Thurmond) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Economic Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
H.J.Res. 121, Disapproving the Extension of Most-Favored-Nation
Status (MFN) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
H.R. 1712, China Market Access and Export Opportunities Act of
1997 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
H.R. 2605, Communist China Subsidy Reduction Act . . . . . . . . 12
Multiple-Issue Legislation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
H.R. 1757, Foreign Relations Authorization Act,
FY1998-FY1999 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
H.R. 2095, China Human Rights and Democracy Act of 1997 . 13
S. 1164, The China Policy Act of 1997 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
S. 1303, The U.S.-China Relations Act of 1997 . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
China: Pending Legislation in the 105th Congress
For a host of assorted reasons, and despite extensive investment and trade
linkages, U.S.-China relations have remained troubled in recent years. To a great
extent, the stage for bilateral tensions was set by the 1989 Tiananmen Square
crackdown, from which China has never been rehabilitated in American eyes. Against
this backdrop, U.S. and Chinese policymakers have clashed repeatedly over human
rights violations, non-proliferation questions, and economic issues. Relations reached
a low point in 1995-96 when Taiwan — a problem long thought to have been
resolved by a 1982 U.S.-China communique — reemerged as a major bilateral issue.
The swiftness and severity of that crisis, which included live-fire Chinese missile tests
in the Taiwan Strait and the deployment of two American carrier battle groups to the
area, appeared to take policymakers in both capitals by surprise. Since then, both
governments have undergone policy reassessments in efforts to put the relationship
back on track. Although there has been notable improvement in the past 18 months,
progress has been slow. Some old problems remain, and other new ones have arisen.
Tensions in U.S.-China relations have led to tensions in U.S. policy circles —
tensions which have surfaced in clashes between Members of Congress and the White
House over the direction of U.S. policy toward China. Both the Bush and Clinton
Administrations have stressed policies of “engagement” with China, and congressional
critics of this approach have sought to pressure the White House to take a firmer,
more sanction-oriented approach. Initially, in 1990, Congress brought this pressure
to bear largely through the vehicle of annual renewal of China’s most-favored-nation
(MFN) treatment, either by voting to withdraw China’s MFN status or by placing
further conditions on it. In subsequent years, Members placed increasing emphasis
on diverse and separate initiatives that have implications for U.S.-China relations,
including initiatives on human rights, non-proliferation, trade, Taiwan, and others.
Some of these initiatives have resurfaced in the 105th Congress, either as renewed
attempts to enact past measures or as refinements of previously enacted ones. Several
other initiatives are new.
In this diverse policy community, there is general agreement that Washington
should use its influence to have Beijing conform to international norms and to foster
For additional background on issues in U.S.-China relations, see China-U.S. Relations, by
Kerry Dumbaugh, CRS Issue Brief 94002 (archived); China’s Changing ,CRS Issue Brief
97049, and Taiwan & U.S. Policy Choices, CRS Issue Brief 96032, both by Robert Sutter;
China and Congress in 1992, CRS Report 93-894 F, and Hong Kong: Issues for U.S. Policy,
CRS Issue Brief 95119, both by Kerry Dumbaugh; and China: U.S. Economic Sanctions,
CRS Report 96-272 F, by Dianne Rennack.
changes in China’s political, economic, and security systems compatible with U.S.
interests. At the same time, there is little agreement in Washington on how the United
States should achieve these objectives. In general, American policymakers are
continuing to use a combination of three approaches to influence U.S. China policy,
and there is little indication as to which approach will ultimately prevail.
First is a moderate, “engaged,” and less confrontational posture toward China.
This is favored by many in the Clinton Administration, Congress, and elsewhere.
Some favoring this approach are impressed with China’s growing economic and
national strength and the opportunities this provides for the United States. They
promote U.S. engagement with China as the most appropriate way to guide the newly
emerging power into international activities compatible with U.S. interests.
Underlying a moderate approach sometimes is a belief that trends in China are
moving inexorably in the “right” direction. That is, China is becoming increasingly
interdependent economically with its neighbors and the developed countries of the
West, and is seen as increasingly unlikely to take disruptive action that would upset
these advantageous international economic relationships. Therefore, according to this
view, U.S. policy should be to work more closely with China in order to encourage
what are seen as positive long-term trends.
A second approach encourages U.S. leaders to be less accommodating.
According to this approach, rather than trying to persuade Beijing of the advantages
of international cooperation, the United States should keep military forces as a
counterweight to rising Chinese power in Asia; deal firmly with economic, arms
proliferation, and other disputes with China; and work closely with traditional U.S.
allies and friends along China’s periphery in order to deal with assertiveness or
disruption from Beijing.
Proponents of this policy stress that Beijing officials still view the world as a
state-centered, competitive environment where interdependence counts for little.
China’s leaders are seen as determined to use whatever means is at their disposal to
increase China’s wealth and power, conforming to many international norms as China
builds economic strength. Once it succeeds with economic modernization, according
to this perspective, Beijing will be disinclined to curb its ambitions out of a need for
international interdependence or other concerns.
A third approach is based on the premise that the political system in China needs
to be changed before the United States has any real hope of reaching a constructive
relationship with China. Proponents of this approach believe Beijing’s communist
leaders are inherently incapable of long-term positive ties with the United States. U.S.
policy should focus on mechanisms to change China from within while maintaining a
vigilant posture to deal with disruptive Chinese foreign policy actions in Asian and
world affairs. While the Clinton Administration has favored the “engaged” approach,
all three approaches have their advocates within the U.S. policy community. During
the past year, congressional debate over the appropriate policy approach has led to
a proliferation of legislation relating to China, much of which is still pending.
Policy Issues and Legislative Initiatives
In 1997, the annual divisive congressional debate over extending China’s MFN
status ended as it had in previous years. The resolution that would have ended
China’s MFN status, H.J.Res. 79, was defeated in the House (by a vote of 173-259),
making Senate consideration moot. Also as in past years, critics of China’s human
rights and proliferation policies have turned to alternatives to MFN, introducing
measures that would more selectively target sanctions and other punitive policies.
Several new factors have characterized this year’s debate and could affect
congressional actions the remainder of this session. First, significant emphasis has
been placed this year on China’s intolerance for many religious practices. Supported
by several conservative religious groups, the concern about religious freedom has led
to several free-standing bills dealing with this aspect of Chinese policy alone. And
second, sharp differences have occurred within each party, leading to differing policy
approaches toward China among Members seeking legislative alternatives to the MFN
vehicle. Among the China-related measures introduced in the 105th Congress is a
package of 9 bills — all critical of China — which the House considered under one
rule (H.Res. 302) beginning on November 5, 1997.
Human Rights Measures
China’s human rights abuses have been among the most visible and constant
points of contention in U.S.-China relations since the 1989 Tiananmen Square
crackdown. Early in his term, President Clinton had supported linking China’s mostfavored-nation (MFN) status with its human rights performance, and in a 1993
Executive Order spelled out the human rights conditions China would have to meet.
By May 26, 1994, the President had decided to “delink” human rights from China’s
MFN status, saying that the United States had “reached the end of the usefulness of
that policy.” China’s human rights record since then has presented a mixed picture,
with both setbacks and minor improvements providing plenty of ammunition for
S.Res. 187/H.Res. 364, The U.N. Commission on Human Rights. As
introduced by Senator Connie Mack on March 3, 1998, S.Res. 187 urges the United
States to introduce at the annual Geneva meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights a resolution criticizing China for its human rights abuses in China and Tibet.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee ordered the measure to be reported
favorably and without amendment on March 11, 1998. On March 12, 1998, the
Senate passed the resolution by a vote of 95-5. A similar resolution, H.Res. 364, was
introduced in the House by Representative Chris Smith on February 12, 1998. The
House measure was marked up by the Subcommittee on International Operations on
February 25, and by the Subcommittee on Asia/Pacific Affairs on March 5. The full
House International Relations Committee held hearings on March 10, and the House
passed the measure on March 17, 1998, by a vote of 397-0.
Prison Labor/Prison Conditions. Prisons in China are widely criticized for
their conditions and their treatment of prisoners. In addition, the requirement that
prisoners work is perhaps the central feature of the Chinese prison system. From the
standpoint of U.S. policy, the key issue is the extent to which products made by
Chinese prisoners are exported to the U.S. market. Long-standing U.S. law prohibits
and provides penalties for the import of products made with convict labor.2 Because
of concerns involving prison labor exports by China, the United States signed a
Memorandum-of-Understanding (MOU) with China on the subject in 1992. Since
then, there have been repeated allegations that China is failing to adhere to its the
agreement.3 Congress is currently considering two bills designed to reinforce the
current ban on prison labor imports. The effect of both bills would be to increase
funding for monitoring of prison labor and prison abuses in China.
H.R. 2195, Slave Labor Products Act. As originally introduced by
Representative Chris Smith on July 17, 1997, H.R. 2195 dealt exclusively with China.
In addition to a series of findings about Chinese prison labor exports, the introduced
version authorized $2 million in FY1999 to improve State Department and Customs
Service monitoring of Chinese violations and required the Administration to issue a
report on Chinese prison labor exports one year after enactment. But in a Ways and
Means Committee markup on October 1, 1997, Reps. Archer and Matsui offered
substitute language that stripped all but one reference to China while leaving the
increased funding and reporting provisions intact. The effect of the substitute was
to increase funding for enforcement of the U.S. prohibition on import of products
made by prison labor from all countries. The House International Relations
Committee waived jurisdiction, and the bill was brought to the House floor on
November 5, 1997, under a rule making nine China-related bills in order, H.Res. 302.
After a motion to recommit with instructions was ruled non-germane, the House
passed H.R. 2195 on November 5 by a vote of 419-2. The bill was referred to the
Senate Finance Committee on November 6, 1997.
H.R. 2358, Political Freedom in China Act. The bill, introduced by
Representative Ros-Lehtinen, would authorize $2.2 million in FY1998 and $2.2
million in FY1999 to provide the U.S. Embassy and consulates in China with
increased personnel to monitor prison abuses and political repression in China. The
bill was reported by the full House International Relations Committee on September
29, 1997 (H.Rept. 105-305), and was considered by the full House on November 5,
1997. Under the rule (H.Res. 302), adoption of the rule meant adoption of a package
of House International Relations Committee amendments to H.R. 2358. Among
other things, these amendments condemned China’s alleged sale for transplant of
human organs harvested from executed prisoners (Rep. Linda Smith); authorized $5
million for the National Endowment for Democracy in each of fiscal years FY1998
and FY1999 to promote rule of law and civil society in China (Reps.
Porter/Dreier/Matsui); and drew attention to the plight of Tibetan prisoners (Rep.
In addition, the House passed by a vote of 394-29 the Gilman/Markey
amendment, which amended the original 1985 U.S.-China nuclear cooperation
agreement in two ways: by extending from 30 days to 120 days the time Congress has
Prison labor imports have been a violation of U.S. customs law since 1890 under the
McKinley Tariff Act [19 U.S.C., section 1307); criminal penalties also apply under 18
U.S.C., section 1761 and 1762.
See China-U.S. Trade Issues, CRS Issue Brief 91121, by Wayne Morrison.
to consider a proposed nuclear cooperation agreement; and by establishing expedited
procedures for congressional consideration of a resolution of disapproval for a
proposed nuclear sale. The House passed the final amended bill on November 5 by
a vote of 416-5. The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on
November 7, 1997.
Forced Abortion. The most bitter controversies in U.S. population planning
assistance have erupted over abortion, and the degree to which coercive abortions
occur in China has been a prominent issue in these debates. Chinese officials have
routinely denied that coercion is an authorized part of Chinese family planning
programs, but they have acknowledged that some provincial and local officials have
pursued coercive policies. U.S. funding for coercive family planning practices is
already prohibited in provisions of several U.S. laws, including prohibitions on
indirect support for coercive family planning, specifically in China.4
H.R. 2570, Coercive Abortion Practices. Representative Fowler’s bill would
require the United States to deny visas to any Chinese national or Chinese government
official who can be credibly determined to have been involved in either establishing
or enforcing population policies resulting in forced sterilization or forced abortion.
The bill is similar to Section 101(5) of S. 1164, the China Policy Act of 1997,
introduced on Sept. 11, 1997, by Senator Abraham (see below). The House took up
H.R. 2570 on November 6 under the rule, H.Res. 302. Adoption of the rule meant
simultaneous adoption of an amendment by Rep. Hamilton that exempted the head of
state, head of government, and cabinet level officials from the visa prohibition, and
that provided the President with authority to waive the visa prohibition if he
determined it in the national interest to do so. The House passed the amended H.R.
2570 by a vote of 415-1. The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee on November 7, 1997.
Religious Freedom.5 Although membership data on religious organizations in
China suggest that the practice of religion continues to increase, China’s decision in
1994 to tighten restrictions on religious practices has generated increased American
criticism. Among other things, new restrictions prohibit evangelical activities and
require all religious groups to register with the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB).
Registration requires that religious groups reveal the names and addresses of
members, their contacts in China and abroad, and details about leadership activities
and finances. The RAB, charged with policing and regulating religious activities, is
part of China’s State Council and reports to the Communist Party’s United Front
H.R. 967, Free the Clergy Act. As originally introduced, Representative
Gilman’s bill, H.R. 967, would have required the United States to deny visas to
members of eight official religious organizations in China and to Chinese officials
involved in promoting or enforcing policies hindering religious practices. It also
See Population Assistance and Family Planning Programs: Issues for Congress, CRS
Issue Brief 96026, by Larry Nowels and Kerry Dumbaugh.
See China’s Treatment of Religious Practices, CRS Report 97-882 F, by Kerry Dumbaugh
and Deborah Johnson.
would have prohibited any U.S. funds from being used to pay for travel expenses for
these officials to attend international conferences or exchange programs. Amendment
in markup removed the visa prohibition, leaving only the funding prohibition in place.
The bill is similar to Section 101(3) and (4) of S. 1164, the China Policy Act of 1997,
introduced on Sept. 11, 1997, by Sen. Abraham (see below). The House International
Relations Committee reported the bill to the House on October 6, 1997 (H.Rept. 105309, Pt. 1). With the Judiciary Committee having waived jurisdiction, the bill was
taken up by the House on November 6, 1997, as part of a package of nine Chinarelated bills under the rule, H.Res. 302. The House passed the bill on November 6 by
a vote of 366-54. The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
on November 7, 1997.
H.R. 2431, Freedom From Religious Persecution Act of 1998. Originally
introduced as H.R. 1685 on May 20, 1997, Representative Wolf’s bill would establish
the U.S. Office of Religious Persecution Monitoring and would impose sanctions
against countries engaged in religious persecution. The bill was reintroduced on Sept.
8, 1997, with minor changes — notably, the deletion of a provision linking a country’s
religious tolerance with U.S. support for its WTO membership. A companion bill, S.
772, was introduced on May 21, 1997 by Senator Specter; no further action has
occurred on it. On March 24, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on
Immigration held hearings about the immigration portions of the bill.
On March 25, the House International Relations committee held a markup on
H.R. 2431. The Committee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute,
offered by Chairman Gilman, which struck all after the enacting clause and substituted
a new set of provisions. The Committee reported the bill to the House (H.Rept. 105480) on April 1, 1998. The amended version of H.R. 2431 adds language about the
Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China, formerly East Turkistan, which is the home
of large numbers of Muslim Uighurs; establishes definitions and separate remedies for
“Category 1" persecution (officially sanctioned or conducted by the government), and
“Category 2" persecution (not officially sanctioned); and softens the presidential
waiver authority restrictions. The House adopted amendments to the bill, and passed
it on May 14, 1998, by a vote of 375-41.
Issues Relating to Taiwan
In order to normalize relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1978, the
United States had to break off official contacts with Taiwan, whose government
claimed that there was only one China and that the government on Taiwan was its
legitimate government. U.S. policy toward and arms sales to Taiwan since then have
been governed by the Taiwan Relations Act (P.L. 96-8), with other U.S. policy
statements on Taiwan contained in three U.S.-China communiques signed since 1972.
Taiwan undoubtedly remains the most sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations, with the
key point being the issue of Taiwan’s status as part of China. China has not
foresworn the use of force should Taiwan declare its independence from China, and
in the past Chinese officials have insisted on clarification and restatement of the U.S.
position that the United States does not recognize “two Chinas.”6
H.R. 2386, U.S.-Taiwan Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Cooperation Act. As
introduced, Representative Hunter’s bill, H.R. 2386, would require the United States
to develop plans for a theater missile defense system for Taiwan, and would call on
the President to make such items available for sale to Taiwan. These provisions were
kept in the final markup version, although the final bill was amended by deletion of
Section 3, which declared that the defense provisions in the Taiwan Relations Act
superseded the three U.S.-China communiques. That provision, which has been
introduced in other legislation in the past, is particularly controversial to the
Administration and to China, which maintains that U.S. commitments in the three
bilateral communiques outweigh the TRA (U.S. domestic law) in governing U.S.China relations. With the House National Security Committee having waived
jurisdiction, the House took up consideration of the bill on November 6. By adopting
the rule, H. Res. 302, the House simultaneously adopted amendments to H.R. 2386
which 1) clarified the future status of Taiwan, differentiating Taiwan’s status
particularly from that of Hong Kong (Rep. Deutch), and which 2) clarified Taiwan’s
current missile defense capabilities, noting in particular that Taiwan would be
protected more completely if a missile defense system were expanded to include the
Taichung region, Kaohsiung, the Penghu Islands, Kinmen (Quemoy), and Matsu
(Reps. Frost/Hunter). The House passed the bill on November 6 by a vote of 301116. On November 7, 1997, the bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations
H.Res. 190, Taiwan Membership the World Trade Organization (WTO). As
other issues involving Taiwan and U.S.-China relations, Taiwan’s application for
membership in the WTO is a sensitive one. Both China and Taiwan have applied for
membership, and China has insisted that the memberships be linked, or that China be
admitted first. Representative Cox’ bill, H. Res. 190, would express the sense of
Congress that Taiwan should be admitted to the WTO without its admission being
made conditional upon China’s membership.7 The bill was referred to the House
Ways and Means Committee on July 17, 1997; no further action has occurred on it.
Other language relating to Taiwan’s membership in the WTO is contained in Section
1722 of the House-passed version of H.R. 1757, the Foreign Relations Authorization
Act. (See below.)
The Missile Proliferation Issue
Another ongoing issue in U.S.-China relations involves China’s alleged
proliferation of weapons. For years China has been charged with selling weapons of
mass destruction and medium-range ballistic missiles in the international market,
primarily to Pakistan and to Middle East countries. Iran has been a steady customer
See Taiwan: Texts of the Taiwan Relations Act and the U.S.-China Communiques, CRS
Report 96-246 F, by Kerry Dumbaugh.
See China’s Application to the World Trade Organization, CRS Report 97-348 E, by
George Holliday and Robert Sutter, and Taiwan: U.S. Policy Choices, CRS IB96032, by
of Chinese weapons, making such purchases as small numbers of SA-2 surface-to-air
missiles, F-7 combat aircraft, fast-attack patrol boats, and C-802 anti-chip cruise
missiles. Some Members of Congress have questioned whether Iran’s possession of
C-802's violates the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act of 1992 (50 U.S.C. 1701),
which requires sanctions on countries that sell destabilizing weapons to Iran or Iraq.
(The Administration has testified that the transfers so far are not destabilizing enough
to warrant U.S. sanctions under the Act).8
H.Res. 188, Cruise Missile Proliferation. Representative Gilman’s resolution
finds the delivery of Chinese C-802 cruise missiles to Iran to be destabilizing and
therefore a violation of the Iran-Iraq Non-Proliferation Act (“the Act”) of 1992. The
House International Relations Committee reported the bill to the House on October
6, 1997 (H.Rept. 105-304). As reported, the resolution urged the Administration to
enforce the provisions of the Act with respect to Chinese missile sales to Iran. During
floor consideration, the effect of adopting the rule (H.Res. 302) was to simultaneously
adopt a package of House International Relations Committee amendments which did
two things: 1) recommended that the United States not issue any visa to Chinese
nationals involved in weapons proliferation (Reps. Porter/Dreier/Matsui); and 2)
expressed the sense of the House on Russian provisions of missile technology and
assistance to Iran (Rep. Harman). The House passed the amended H.Res. 188 on
November 6 by a vote of 414-8.
Radio Free Asia
The issue of establishing a surrogate radio broadcasting system for China, similar
to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, originated in 1991. In 1991 and 1992, three
separate commissions made recommendations concerning the establishment of such
a system. In its FY1994 budget request, the Clinton Administration requested $30
million to create a surrogate system, called Radio Free Asia (RFA). Congress
authorized its creation in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1994-1995
(P.L. 103-226). The service was incorporated on March 11, 1996, and has been
broadcasting 5 hours a day in Mandarin Chinese and 2 hours a day in Tibetan.9
During RFA’s first year of broadcasting, Congress continued to express concerns that
the new service was not following a clear plan of action, and that it was not
coordinating its broadcasting activities closely enough with the Voice of America.
H.R. 2232, Radio Free Asia Act of 1997. As introduced, Representative
Royce’s bill would have authorized an additional $46.9 million for FY1998 and an
additional $31.2 million for FY1999, to be made available only for broadcasting to
China. The introduced version would have accommodated round-the-clock
broadcasts to China in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tibetan, as well as in other major
Chinese dialects. In addition, the original version would have earmarked funds for
building new transmitters in the Marshall Islands and for staffing a Cantonese
language service. In markup on September 30, 1997, the House International
See Iran: Arms and Technology Acquisitions, CRS Report 97-474 F, by Ken Katzman; and
Chinese Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Current Policy Issues, CRS IB
92056, by Shirley Kan.
See Radio Free Asia, CRS Report 97-52F, by Susan Epstein.
Relations Committee removed several earmarks, including one for the Cantonese
language services, and kept the overall funding levels lower ($30 million and $22
million, respectively) in accordance with agreements reached in conference on the
Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1757) (see below). Under the rule, H.Res.
302, the House took up H.R. 2232 on November 9, 1997, passing it by a vote of 40121. The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November
Relatively recently, Congress has become concerned over the activities of
China’s military and intelligence communities. This concern has been prompted partly
by several cases involving Chinese military enterprises associated with, or controlled
by, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), partly by accusations of illegal Chinese
contributions to U.S. political campaigns in an efforts to gain political influence, and
partly by reports that U.S. companies may have illegally transferred sensitive missile
launch technology to China. In 1996, 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles were smuggled from
China into the U.S. port of Oakland. Two Chinese companies investigated for the
smuggling, including Poly Technologies, were owned or controlled by the PLA.
Another case involves a proposal by the Port of Long Beach to lease terminal facilities
to the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO). Although COSCO is not run by
the Chinese military, critics have charged that COSCO has ties to PLA companies,
citing the case of the AK-47 assault rifles (which were transported in a COSCOowned ship) as one example. In another case involving allegations of Chinese efforts
to gain political influence in the United States, Mr. Wang Jun, Chairman of Poly
Technologies, attended a White House reception.10
H.Res. 463, Select Committee on U.S. National Security and
Military/Commercial Concerns With the People's Republic of China . On June 9,
1998, Representative Solomon introduced this resolution to create a special select
committee to investigate ongoing accusations involving China and U.S. national
security. The resolution gives the select committee broad jurisdiction to investigate
technology transfer issues; the conduct and decisionmaking processes of the
Executive Branch; the conduct of U.S. defense contractors, satellite manufacturers,
and weapons manufacturers; and allegations of Chinese influence-buying and illegal
campaign contributions. The resolution calls for the select committee to have 8
members, to be appointed by the Speaker. The measure was referred to the House
Rules Committee, which reported it out on June 16, 1998 (H,Rept. 105-582). The
House passed it on June 18, 1998, by a vote of 409-10.
H.R. 2647, PLA Monitoring Legislation. Representative Fowler’s bill would
authorize the President to exercise his authority under the International Emergency
Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1702(a)) over any commercial activity in the
United States carried out by a Chinese military enterprise. Originally introduced as
H.R. 2188, that version of the bill would have denied MFN treatment to products
produced, manufactured, or exported by the PLA. A second version, introduced on
See Long Beach: Proposed Lease by China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), CRS
Report 97-476F, by Shirley Kan.
September 30, 1997, eliminated the MFN provision; H.R. 2647, the third version of
the bill, is the same as its predecessor but for one additional provision exempting
“authorities relating to importation” from the bill’s coverage. The effect of both the
changes from the original legislation was to obviate Ways and Means Committee
consideration. Under the rule, H.Res. 302, the House took up H.R. 2647 on
November 7, 1997, passing it by a vote of 408-10. The bill was referred to the Senate
Banking Committee on November 8, 1997.
H.R. 2190, Report on PRC Intelligence Activities. Representative McCollum’s
bill would require the Directors of the CIA and the FBI to submit annual reports in
both classified and unclassified versions concerning: Chinese political, military, and
economic espionage; intelligence activities designed to gain political influence; efforts
to gain direct or indirect influence through intermediaries; and Chinese disinformation
and press manipulation. Similar language introduced by Reps. McCollum and Cox
was passed by voice vote on July 9, 1997, in an amendment to the Intelligence
Authorization Act (H.R. 1775). H.R. 2190 was introduced on July 17, 1997.
H.R. 3616 (Spence)/S. 2057 (Thurmond). The Defense Authorization Act.
Representative Spence's bill authorizes appropriations for the Department of Defense
for FY1999. The bill was introduced on April 1, 1998, and referred to the House
National Security Committee, which held a mark-up on May 6, 1998. When the
Committee reported the bill out on May 12, 1998 (H.Rept. 105-532), it included
minimal provisions relating to China: (Section 2822 would eliminate the President's
ability to waive prohibitions against sale or lease of the former Naval Station at Long
Beach, California, to China.) However, in light of recent revelations that U.S.
corporations may have illegally conveyed sensitive satellite and missile technology
information to China in 1996, a number of amendments to H.R. 3616 were submitted
to the House Rules Committee for consideration on May 19, 1998; 12 of these related
to China, and 2 related to Hong Kong. When the Committee reported a rule later the
same day, 6 of the proposed amendments had been made in order: Spence/Gilman —
expressing the sense of Congress that U.S. business interests should not be placed
above U.S. national security interests, and that the United States should not enter into
new agreements with China involving space or missile-related technology; Bereuter
— prohibiting U.S. participation in any investigation of a launch failure of a U.S.
satellite in China; Hefley — prohibiting the transfer of U.S. missile equipment or
missile-related technology to China; Hunter — prohibiting export or re-export of any
U.S. satellites to China; and also, placing U.S. satellites on the U.S. Munitions List
and making their export subject to Arms Export Control Act licensing requirements;
and Gilman — establishing requirements for nuclear energy-related exports, including
provision for joint resolutions of disapproval in Congress for related export licenses.
On May 7, 1998, the Senate Armed Services Committee ordered to be reported
an original measure, formally introduced as S. 2057 on May 11, 1998. The Senate
began consideration of S. 2057 on May 14, 1998, adopting several amendments
relating to China. These included an amendment (Hutchinson/Abraham) requiring the
Secretary of Defense to compile a list of Chinese military companies operating in the
United States, and authorizing the President to use IEEPA authority (50 U.S.C.
1702(a)) with respect to any U.S. commercial activity by these entities (the Senate
agreed to the amendment by voice vote, after having earlier rejected a motion to table
by a vote of 24-76). This amendment imposes the same requirements as did H.R.
2647, which passed the House on November 7, 1997, by a vote of 409-10. The
Senate also adopted an amendment (Hutchinson/Abraham) strengthening the U.S.
ability to monitor whether China is illegally exporting to the United States products
made with prison-labor (as amended by a Harkin amendment to include "child labor"
into the definition of forced labor in U.S. law. This amendment was similar to H.R.
2195, which the House passed in November 1997 by a vote of 419-2. The Senate
passed both of the above amendments by voice vote. The Senate is expected to
resume consideration of S. 2057 later in June.
Economic issues — particularly trade issues, China’s accession to the World
Trade Organization (WTO), and the annual review of China’s MFN status — have
often been the source of tensions in U.S.-China relations. In addition to the expected
resolution to disapprove most-favored-nation status for China, several of the bills still
pending on the congressional calendar have implications for U.S. trade with China and
for China’s ability to borrow at current levels from multilateral development banks.
China is the principal borrower from world financial institutions, such as the World
Bank, to which the United States makes annual contributions. In the aftermath of the
Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989, the United States and the Group of Seven (G7) countries — together the major stockholders in the international development
banks — agreed to support limited loans to China as long as loans were targeted to
projects meeting basic human needs. The United States continues to support limited
loans to China based on these restrictions.11
H.J.Res. 121, Disapproving the Extension of Most-Favored-Nation Status
(MFN). Representative Solomon introduced this joint resolution on June 4, 1998, the
day after President Clinton issued his annual recommendation that China's eligibility
for MFN status be extended. Congress has 90 days in which to act to disapprove the
President's recommendation. The joint resolution must be approved by both houses
and signed by the President in order to become law. H.J.Res. 121 was referred to the
House Ways and Means Committee, which in recent years has reported out similar
joint resolutions unfavorably.
H.R. 1712, China Market Access and Export Opportunities Act of 1997.
Representative Bereuter introduced his bill on May 22, 1997. The bill addresses
China’s WTO accession and the annual U.S. review of China’s MFN status.
According to the bill’s statement of purpose, it would offer an incentive for China to
join the WTO by providing China with permanent MFN status upon its accession.
(The bill would do this by removing China from the annual MFN review process
under Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974.) Prior to China’s accession to the WTO
(and while China still enjoyed MFN status), the bill would authorize the President to
See China and the Multilateral Development Banks, CRS Report 97-518 F, by Jonathan
Sanford; China’s Economic Development: An Overview, CRS Report 97-932 E, by Wayne
Morrison; and Most-Favored-Nation Status of the People’s Republic of China, CRS
IB97039, by Vladimir Pregelj; Most-Favored-Nation Status and China: History, Current
Law, Economic and Political Considerations, and Alternative Approaches, CRS Report 96923 E.
raise tariffs on Chinese imports if he determined that China was 1.) not providing
adequate trade benefits for the United States, or; 2.) not taking the necessary steps
to become a full WTO member. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means
Committee on May 22, 1997. (See S. 1303, below.)
H.R. 2605, Communist China Subsidy Reduction Act. Representative
Solomon’s bill would direct U.S. representatives at multilateral development banks
to oppose concessional loans to any entity in China. The original version of this bill,
H.R. 2196, would have reduced the U.S. contribution to any international financial
institution by the proportional amount that could be determined would have gone to
the PRC. The reintroduced version of the bill, H.R. 2605, moderates this provision.
H.R. 2605 was introduced on October 2, 1997, and was referred to the House
Banking Committee. The bill was taken up by the House on November 6, under rule
H.Res. 302. By adopting the rule, the House simultaneously adopted several
amendments by Reps. Porter/Dreier/Matsui which 1) created a voluntary codes of
conduct for U.S. businesses operating in China, stating that U.S. companies adopting
the principles would be given preferential participation in trade missions to China; and
2) encouraged U.S. government agencies to initiate or expand cultural, scientific,
agricultural, military, legal, and other ties with China. The House passed the amended
bill on November 6 by a vote of 354-59. The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee on November 7, 1997.
Apart from the single-issue, stand-alone bills described above, several other
major bills are pending relating to China that include components of other single-issue
H.R. 1757, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY1998-FY1999. The bill,
introduced by Representative Gilman, authorizes appropriations for State Department
activities and consolidates foreign affairs agencies of the United States. The House
International Relations Committee had marked up an earlier version of the bill (H.R.
1486, the Foreign Policy Reform Act), before H.R. 1757 was introduced on June 3,
1997. The House amended the bill and passed it on June 11, 1997, by voice vote. On
June 17, 1997, the Senate struck all after the Enacting Clause and substituted the
language of S. 903, as amended, passing that bill the same day by a vote of 90-5. As
approved by the House, Section 1305 of the bill would have created a Special Envoy
for Tibet, with the rank of ambassador and charged with promoting negotiations
between the Dalai Lama and China; Section 1523 would have prohibited the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from using U.S. funds for population programs
in China; Section 1713 of the bill would have expressed the sense of Congress that
Hong Kong’s reversion to China should be peaceful, and that basic freedoms and rule
of law should be respected; Section 1722 declared that Congress favors public U.S.
support for Taiwan’s accession to the WTO.
As passed by the full Senate, the bill imposed a requirement similar to that in the
House bill for a Special Envoy to Tibet, and contained sense of the Senate language
on a range of U.S. policy issues with respect to China, including limiting visas to
Chinese officials involved in restricting religious practices or in China’s coercive
abortion programs; limiting U.S. contributions to the multilateral development banks;
imposing targeted sanctions on certain Chinese PLA enterprises; and increasing U.S.
funding for Radio Free Asia. On June 19, 1997, a message on the Senate action was
sent to the House.
On March 10, 1997, the conference report was filed (H.Rept. 105-432), with a
number of changes in the China-related provisions. Deleted from the conference
report was any mention of a Special Envoy for Tibet, which had been included in both
House and Senate versions of the bill. The conference report also dropped several of
the sense-of- Senate language provisions on China, including: language limiting visas
to Chinese officials; limiting U.S. contributions to multilateral development banks;
targeting sanctions on certain Chinese military enterprises; and increasing funds and
expanding broadcasting hours for Radio Free Asia. Section 1808 of the conference
report declares that Congress favors public U.S. support for Taiwan’s accession to
the WTO; section 1816 prohibits UNFPA from receiving U.S. funds unless the
President certifies either that UNFPA has ended all its population activities in China
and will have no activities during the fiscal year the money is authorized, or that there
have been no coercive abortions in China during the previous 12 months.
The House agreed to the Conference Report by voice vote on March 26, 1998,
having first agreed to the rule (H.Res. 385) by a vote of 234-172. The Senate passed
the Conference Report on April 28, 1998, by a vote of 51-49, and cleared it for the
H.R. 2095, China Human Rights and Democracy Act of 1997. The bill by
Reps. Porter and Dreier reportedly was developed after Speaker Gingrich asked the
two Members to review alternatives to withdrawing China’s MFN status.12 Among
other things, the bill includes funding for Radio Free Asia, expresses the sense of
Congress that there should be round-the-clock broadcasting in Asia in multiple
languages, including Chinese, Tibetan, Cantonese, and Uighur; requires annual reports
from the Secretary of State about human rights violations in China, including religious
persecution, development of democratic institutions, and rule of law; expresses the
sense of Congress that U.S. businesses operating in China should adhere to a code of
conduct; and prohibits the issuance of visas to any Chinese national involved in
proliferation activities or human rights violations. The bill was introduced on June 26,
1997, and has received no further action.
S. 1164, The China Policy Act of 1997. Senator Abraham’s bill, introduced on
September 11, 1997, sets forth a fairly comprehensive U.S. China policy approach and
includes provisions similar to other pending China bills. Among its provisions, the
legislation includes a title delineating new sanctions on China — including denial of
visas, instruction that U.S. representatives to the MDBs vote against assistance to
China, sanctions on PLA enterprises, limited funding for Radio Free Asia, annual
reports on PRC intelligence activities in the United States, and an assessment of a
theater ballistic missile defense system for Taiwan. The Senate Foreign Relations
Committee held hearings on the bill on September 17, 1997.
Cited in The Congressional Quarterly, June 14, 1997, p. 1390.
S. 1303, The U.S.-China Relations Act of 1997. Senator Lieberman’s bill,
introduced on October 21, 1997, takes a moderate and more conciliatory approach
to U.S.-China relations. It states that its fundamental purpose is the integration of
China into the world community. S. 1303 would require an annual accounting of U.S.
economic relations with China and would encourage China’s integration into
multilateral economic organizations — including a requirement that the President
develop criteria for China’s participation in Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD) and G-7 meetings. The bill would give China permanent
MFN upon accession to the WTO; requires greater information on energy and
national security issues; establishes a commission to promote the rule of law, respect
for human rights, religious tolerance, and civil society in China; and calls for the
formation of a commission to prepare a profile of China province-by-province to
serve as a basis for permitting the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
to invest in certain provinces. S. 1303 incorporates H.R. 1712, a bill introduced in
May, 1997 by Rep. Bereuter. In his floor statement introducing the bill, Sen.
Lieberman referred to the “flurry of bills” introduced in Congress to oppose China’s
policies, and declared it “unfortunate that Congress is sending mixed messages about
this very important bilateral relationship.” The bill was referred to the Senate Finance
Committee on October 21, 1997.