House Passes MFN

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: In the end, it really was never much of a question that Congress would renew China's Most Favored Nation trade status. After days of thundering speeches against China's atrocious human rights record echoed through the House, Representatives agreed on a 259-173 vote to see things President Clinton's way. The Administration has long argued that renewing MFN, which is really only the basic trading agreement that the U.S. has with virtually every country, is the only way to promote gradual change in China. More important is that U.S. businesses don't want to be left out of China's explosive economic expansion that has the country poised to be a 21st Century economic power. Chinese products, including parts that make inexpensive Motorola phones and Tickle Me Elmo dolls now permeate the U.S. Presidents Bush, Carter, Ford and dozens of ex-Cabinet secretaries weighed in late Monday with a string of letters arguing that failure to pass the MFN measure would destroy the U.S. government's ability to use commerce to influence Beijing's human rights practices. Not to mention the leave the U.S. saddled with $50 Tickle Me Elmos.