A senior Republican congressman representing New Jersey and a longtime critic of Communist China has revived a bill intended to strip the regime of its trade privileges in light of Beijing’s “systematic economic espionage against the United States and egregious human rights abuses.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) highlighted the importance of confronting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on its attempts to undermine the U.S. as well as its vast crimes at home — including a massive organ transplant industry believed to be fueled by the murder of political and religious prisoners.
Speaking on Fox News with popular host Tucker Carlson on Feb. 7, Smith noted that despite decades of preferential trade treatment touted as helping China liberalize, the CCP has “gone from bad to extremely worse.”
Titled the China Trade Relations Act of 2023 (HR 638), the bill is a follow-up to a previous attempt by Smith in March 2022 to bring back human rights as an effective factor in U.S.-China economic relations.
It takes aim at the 1994 decision by then-President Bill Clinton to set aside human rights concerns in America’s economic relations with China, giving Beijing preferential trade status.
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That year, Smith held a press conference on Capitol Hill to protest Clinton and others for ignoring the Chinese regime’s growing abuses; just five years prior, the Communist Party had deployed tanks and armed soldiers to kill thousands of student protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Now, “the Chinese Communist Party has gotten a pass for its gross human rights violations while benefiting tremendously by stealing American jobs and growing into the economic superpower it is today,” Smith is quoted on his congressional website as saying.
“China is an exporting nation,” Smith said on Carlson’s program. “Without exports, that economy dries to a trickle. … They have to clean up their act, or else their ability to send exports to U.S. markets will be severely and substantially tariffed.”
Bent on tyranny
The CCP seized power over mainland China in 1949, following a long struggle to spread throughout the impoverished Chinese countryside before conquering the nation’s cities and becoming the deadliest regime in history through political persecutions and mass starvation.
The Party aims to establish the dominance of its Marxist-Leninist system worldwide, and actively vies with the United States with the ultimate goal of replacing it as the world’s superpower. A famous book penned by two Chinese military officers, Unrestricted Warfare, details the various efforts by the CCP to surpass and bring down the U.S.
While many Western elites and scholars advocated increased trade ties with China as a vehicle of encouraging political reforms, the CCP did not do so, and instead doubled down on its ideology and dictatorship.
“The Uyghurs are being subjected to genocide, religious freedom is being decimated all over China, [the CCP] is horribly oppressing the people of China,” he said, adding that Beijing now threatens democratic Taiwan, having recently destroyed the freedoms enjoyed by residents of Hong Kong after millions rose up demanding political reforms in the 2019 protests.
Smith has frequently spoken out against the CCP’s human rights abuses, being one of the first U.S. legislators to openly condemn the regime’s harrowing crime of forced organ harvesting.
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“I just had a hearing in July on this horrible practice of stealing people’s organs. Fifty thousand to 100,000 people — victims — every year who are killed for their organs,” Smith said. “It’s from people like Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghurs, and the Falun Gong practitioners,” the main religious communities that the communist regime targets for persecution. “This is something Nazi-like that is going on right now.”
In particular, the Chinese transplant industry burgeoned starting in the year 2000, right after then-CCP head Jiang Zemin ordered the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline and its tens of millions of adherents. For many years of China’s economic rise, the majority of those killed for their organs are believed to be practitioners of Falun Gong.
Changing the US-China relationship
“America should never let genocide and slave labor become a ‘permanent’ or ‘normal’ part of U.S. trade,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI), a cosponsor of the legislation, as quoted on Smith’s website.
“It’s time we stopped overlooking widespread human rights abuses as just the ‘cost of doing business’ in Communist China and restored the annual congressional review of China’s ‘most favored nation’ trade status,” she said.
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“The Smith-Tiffany legislation would relink China’s trade status with its record on human rights and require annual affirmation by the President that the CCP is making serious and sustained improvement in respecting human rights in order to achieve preferential treatment in trade protocols, sometimes referred to as most favored nation (MFN) status,” Smith’s website reads.
Smith has chaired the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) since the Republicans took the House in last November’s midterm elections.
The United States started taking a tougher stance on the Chinese regime during the Trump administration, when the government actively called out the Party’s communist ideology and slapped escalating tariff schedules on Chinese exports to the U.S. The Biden administration has continued some of these efforts, though shying away from the ideological dimension.
Tucker Carlson described the prospective bill as the “only lever that could get any change at all in the relationship with China.”
In their conversation, Smith said that he was working to gain support for HR 638.
“We’re building a group, I’ve talked to a lot of people, we’re going to get a lot of cosponsors.”
“Many if not most business and political leaders have long bought into the ‘China Fantasy’ that overlooks human rights abuses while asserting that increased trade will make China more like us,” Smith said, according to his website. “It was not true then and it’s not true now.”