CHINA AND THE 105TH CONGRESS: POLICY ISSUES AND LEGISLATION, 1997-1998
CRS Report for Congress
China and the 105 Congress: Policy Issues and
October 21, 1999
Specialist in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
The 105th Congress was especially active on issues involving China. This report tracks trendsth
in and legislation considered by the 105 Congress, including the following issues: prison
conditions in China 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 concerned 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, the report covers legislation
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, the report discusses multiple-issue bills, such as 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. This report supercedes CRS Report 97-
China and the 105 Congress: Policy Issues and Legislation,
Congressional interest in China increased in intensity during the 105th
Congress, beginning in mid-1997. Much of this activity occurred in the House, which
early in November 1997 passed a package of China-related bills by a wide margin.
Some of these provisions were also included in Senate bills, and eventually were
enacted into law. The Clinton Administration opposed many of these measures, not
only for policy reasons, but because Administration was planning the resumption of
U.S.-China summitry late in 1997. In October 1997, President Jiang Zemin became
the first Chinese leader to visit Washington since 1985; in June 1998, President
Clinton became the first Democratic U.S. President to visit China.
The number and diversity of China-related bills in the 105th Congress suggested
that significant divisions remained both within the Congress and between Congress
and the Administration about the direction of U.S. China policy. In addition, the
stage was set for further consideration of China issues early in the 106th Congress with
the passage of H.Res. 463, which created a Select Committee on U.S. National
Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China. The
Select Committee's initial mission was to investigate allegations that a U.S. company,
Loral Space and Communications, may have provided China with sensitive
information in 1996 capable of improving China's missile launch capabilities. Later,
the Select Committee expanded its inquiries to include allegations of long-term
Chinese espionage at U.S. nuclear science labs. The Select Committee released a de-
classified version of its findings in February 1999.
As in past Congresses, Members offered legislation protesting aspects of China’s
human rights record, including bills dealing with prison labor exports; coercive
abortion practices; and religious intolerance. Congress also considered bills relating
to Taiwan — in particular, about Taiwan’s entry into the World Trade Organization
(WTO) and about the U.S. role in helping Taiwan in its national defense — and
relating to 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. Several multiple-issue bills, such as the Foreign Relations and
Defense Authorization Acts, combined some, or even most, of these issues. Finally,
Congress again considered joint resolutions to disapprove China’s most-favored-
nation or “normal” trading status (MFN/NTR), ultimately rejecting the measures in
In general, the legislation the 105th Congress considered on China offered one
of two approaches: either an assertive, sanction-oriented approach to China requiring
punitive U.S. actions; or a less punitive approach that, while targeting many of the
same issues, leaned more heavily on sense-of-Congress language. In the House, many
harsher measures were toned down in committee consideration, while new, punitive
measures were sometimes introduced to replace them. In addition, the Senate
attached some of the language contained in the House bills to more comprehensive
authorizations and appropriations bills.
Introduction ................................................... 1
Policy Trends and Legislative Initiatives...........................4
Human Rights Measures......................................6
S.Res. 187/H.Res. 364, U.N. Commission on Human Rights...6
Prison Labor/Prison Conditions.............................6
H.R. 2195, Slave Labor Products Act [P.L. 105-261]........7
H.R. 2358, Political Freedom in China Act.................7
H.R. 2570, Coercive Abortion Practices...................8
H.R. 967, Free the Clergy Act..........................9
H.R. 2431, Freedom From Religious Persecution Act of 1998
Issues Relating to Taiwan....................................10
H.R. 2386, U.S.-Taiwan Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense
H.Res. 190, Taiwan Membership in the World Trade Organization
(WTO) ....................................... 11
S.Con.Res. 107/H.Con.Res. 301, Reaffirm U.S. Commitments
under P.L. 96-8, the Taiwan Relations Act ...........11
S.Con.Res. 30, Taiwan's International Status..............12
H.Con.Res. 270, Affirming America's Support for Taiwan....12
The Missile Proliferation Issue.................................12
H.Res. 188, Cruise Missile Proliferation..................13
Radio Free Asia............................................13
H.R. 2232, Radio Free Asia Act of 1997 [see P.L. 105-261]...13
H.R. 2190, Report on PRC Intelligence Activities
[see P.L. 105-107]..............................14
H.R. 2647, PLA Monitoring Legislation [see P.L. 105-261]...15
H.R. 3616 (Spence)/S. 2057 (Thurmond), Defense Authorization
Act [P.L. 105-261].............................15
H.Res. 463, Select Committee on U.S. National Security
and Military/Commercial Concerns With the People's
Republic of China .............................17
H.R. 1712, China Market Access and Export Opportunities Act
H.R. 2605, Communist China Subsidy Reduction Act........18
H.J.Res. 121, Disapproving the Extension of Most-Favored-
Nation Status (MFN)...........................18
H.R. 1757, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY1998-FY1999
H.R. 2095, China Human Rights and Democracy Act of 1997.19
S. 1164, The China Policy Act of 1997...................20
China-related Provisions in Other Enacted Legislation...............21
H.R. 1119, Military Construction Authorizations [P.L. 105-85]
H.R. 2159, Foreign Operations Appropriations [ P.L. 105-118]
H.R. 4103, DOD Appropriations [P.L. 105-262]...........21
H.R. 4328, Omnibus Appropriations [P.L. 105-277].........21
S. 858, Intelligence Authorization [P.L. 105-107]...........21
S. 1026, Export-Import Bank Reauthorization [P.L. 105-121].21
China and the 105 Congress: Policy Issues and
For a host of assorted reasons, and despite extensive investment and trade
linkages, U.S.-China relations have remained troubled in the 1990s. 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
one 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.
In response to the Taiwan crisis, both governments undertook policy
reassessments in efforts to put the relationship back on track. As part of that effort,
presidential summitry resumed, having been effectively suspended since President
Bush’s trip to China in 1989. In October 1997, President Jiang Zemin became the
first Chinese leader to visit Washington since 1985; in June 1998, President Clinton
became the first Democratic U.S. President to visit China. At the same time, the
relationship was beset by new troubles. A specially formed Select Committee in
Congress spent much of 1997-1998 investigating allegations that China had
conducted espionage at U.S. nuclear science labs, and had acquired illegally from U.S.
companies sensitive information capable of improving Chinese missile-launch
1For additional background on issues in U.S.-China relations, see the following: China-U.S.
Relations, CRS Issue Brief 98018; Taiwan: Current Developments and U.S. Policy Choices,
CRS Issue Brief 98034; China and Congress in 1992, CRS Report 93-894 F; and Hong
Kong: Issues for U.S. Policy, CRS Issue Brief 95119, all by Kerry Dumbaugh; China: U.S.
Economic Sanctions, CRS Report 96-272 F, by Dianne Rennack; Chinese proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction: current policy issues, IB92056; China: suspected acquisition
of U.S. nuclear weapon data, RL30143; China's technology acquisitions: Cox Committee's
report--findings, issues and recommendations, RL30220, all by Shirley Kan.
2The Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with
the People’s Republic of China (known informally as the "Cox Committee" because of Rep.
Chris Cox's chairmanship) was created by H. Res. 463, passed in June 1998. The Select
Committee issued a declassified version of its findings in February 1999.
Tensions in U.S.-China relations have been paralleled by tensions within U.S.
policy circles, both within the Executive Branch and between Members of Congress
and the White House, over the direction of U.S. policy toward China. While there has
been general agreement in U.S. policy circles that Washington should use its influence
to have Beijing conform to international norms and to foster political and economic
change in China, there has been little agreement in Washington on how the United
States should achieve these objectives. Both the Bush and Clinton Administrations
have stressed policies of “engagement” with China, and congressional critics of this
approach have sought consistently to pressure the White House to take a firmer, more
sanctions-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.3 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.th
Many of these initiatives resurfaced in the 105 Congress, either as renewed attempts
to enact past measures or as refinements of previously enacted ones. In addition, the
In general, American policymakers continued to use a combination of three
approaches to influence U.S. China policy, with little indication as to which approach
will ultimately prevail. First is a moderate, “engaged,” and less confrontational
posture toward China, 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 this approach generally 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 increasingly unlikely to take disruptive action that would upset these
advantageous international economic relationships. Therefore, according to this view,
U.S. policy should emphasize working 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
3On July 9, 1998, Congress cleared for the President's signature H.R. 2676, the Internal
Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act (H.Rept. 105-599). That Act contained a
provision replacing the term "most-favored-nation" status (MFN) with the term "normal trade
relations" (NTR). The intent of the provision, (enacted as P.L. 105-206) was to reinforce that
this trade status was not a special or preferential trade status, but simply the normal status
that the United States gives to all but a handful of its trading partners.
disruption from Beijing. Proponents of this approach 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 all available means to
increase China’s wealth and power, conforming to many international norms as China
builds economic strength. Once China succeeds with economic modernization,
according to this perspective, Chinese leaders will be disinclined to sacrifice national
ambitions to 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. In the
105th Congress of 1997-1998, debate over the appropriate policy approach resulted
in a proliferation of legislation relating to China, some of which were enacted into
law. Many believe that this more legislatively active trend on China issues is likely toth
continue into the 106 Congress and beyond.
Policy Trends and Legislative Initiatives
Several broad and overlapping trends affected the U.S. policy process on Chinath
during the 105 Congress in 1997-1998. These trends illustrated that, despite a
number of efforts to bring improvements to bilateral relations, the process of making
U.S. policy decisions involving China is still characterized by incongruity and
In retrospect, much about the U.S.-China relationship at the beginning of 1997
seemed destined to improve its prospects. The congressional debate over China’s
most-favored-nation (MFN) status appeared likely to be minimal and relatively
congenial, as it had been in 1996. American policymakers spent the first half of 1997
focusing on Hong Kong’s reversion to China, which occurred smoothly on July 1,
1997, easing U.S. and international fears about China’s potential intervention in Hong
Kong in the future. The death of China’s paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, in April
1997 was uneventful, contrary to some expectations that it would result in
destabilizing political infighting. China’s decision not to devalue its own currency as
the Asian financial crisis unfolded was viewed as a helpful and responsible act, and
was welcomed by the United States.
Throughout 1997, Administration officials appeared increasingly convinced that
China had assigned a high priority to good relations with the United States. U.S.
officials also believed that China had made important shifts in its willingness to abide
by international agreements, such as deciding to minimize its nuclear cooperation with
Iran. Consequently, when Chinese President Jiang Zemin came to Washington for
the first U.S.-China summit in ten years, on October 27, 1997, President Clinton
announced that he was prepared to move forward on a range of bilateral issues in the
coming months, including initiating U.S. nuclear energy cooperation with China under
the terms of a never-implemented 1985 bilateral agreement.
Nevertheless, having finally begun to move forward with a more comprehensive
China policy, the Clinton Administration in 1997 found its effectiveness in pursuing
that policy hampered by a number of domestic controversies that surfaced in 1997 and
intensified into 1998. The State Department report on human rights that was released
January 30, 1997, accused China of silencing virtually all public dissent in 1996
through intimidation, exile, imposition of prison terms, administrative detention, or
house arrest. In the face of this report, some Members of Congress were unimpressed
by China's October 1997 summit decision to sign the U.N. International Covenant on
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights — something Administration officials
considered a sign of China’s improved commitment to human rights issues.
In February 1997, U.S. news sources began reporting that officials of the
Chinese government — and in particular Chinese military officials — had made illegal
contributions to U.S. political campaigns in the 1996 elections. Congress began
investigating these allegations, and later expanded that investigation to include
whether any such campaign contributions, if they occurred, had influenced decisions
the Clinton Administration made about China. Pressure on the Administration
increased in April 1998, when it was revealed that Space Systems Loral, a U.S.
aerospace company, may have illegally transferred sensitive information to China in
1996 concerning missile guidance and control systems. Additional pressure came
from critics who believed that Chinese assistance was a key factor in Pakistan's
sudden emergence as a confirmed nuclear power.4 Because of these continuing
controversies, the House late in 1997 passed a series of China-related bills unrelated
to MFN status, and congressional critics continued to target the Clinton
Administration’s policy of engagement with China, pressuring the White House to
take a firmer, more sanctions-oriented approach.
It was in this atmosphere of controversy that the President made his planned
summit visit to China from June 25-July 3, 1998. The summit got mixed reviews.
Members of Congress criticized the President for agreeing to be received in
Tiananmen Square, the site of China's 1989 bloody military crackdown, for the official
welcoming ceremony. Some criticized the summit as lacking in substance. Others
were pleased by the unprecedented live coverage that Chinese television and radio
gave to several presidential appearances, including a joint press conference between
Clinton and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, where the President was able to speak
directly to the Chinese people about U.S. human rights concerns.
The most controversial moment of the 1998 summit came at a roundtable
discussion in Shanghai, when the President made a statement about U.S. policy
toward Taiwan: that the United States did not support independence for Taiwan; did
not support a two-China policy; and did not believe Taiwan should be a member of
international organizations where statehood is a prerequisite. The statement was5
criticized by some in the United States as a significant departure from past policy.
As a result, legislation involving Taiwan and U.S. policy became features of activity
late in the 105th Congress.
In both 1997 and 1998, the annual divisive congressional debate over extending
China’s MFN status ended as it had in previous years. Joint resolutions that would
have ended China’s MFN status, (H.J.Res. 79 and H.J.Res. 121, respectively) were
defeated in the House by wide margins, making Senate consideration moot. Also as
in past years, critics of China’s human rights and proliferation policies turned to
alternatives to MFN, introducing measures that would have more selectively targeted
sanctions and other punitive policies.
Several new factors also characterized the debate on China in the 105th Congress.
First, significant emphasis was placed on China’s intolerance for many religious
practices. Supported by several conservative religious groups, the concern about
religious freedom led to several free-standing bills dealing with this aspect of Chinese
policy alone. Second, sharp differences occurred within each party on many major
policy issues, leading to differing approaches toward China among Members seeking
4In response to nuclear tests by India earlier in the month, Pakistan detonated 5 nuclear
devices on May 28, 1998. For years, China had been suspected of clandestinely helping
Pakistan in its nuclear weapons program.
5The text of the Shanghai roundtable discussion of June 30, 1998, can be found at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/New/China/speeches.html For additional information on the
so-called “one-China policy,” see CRS Report RL30341, China/Taiwan: Evolution of the
"One-China" Policy, by Shirley Kan.
legislative alternatives to the MFN vehicle. And third, congressional attention during
the second session focused on allegations involving comprises in U.S. national
security. One of these involved charges that two U.S. aerospace companies had
transferred sensitive technologies to China in the course of their commercial activities
there, and that U.S. national security had been damaged both by these transfers and
by U.S. government decisions to loosen high-tech export restrictions. A second
involved allegations of Chinese espionage in U.S. nuclear science labs.
Among the China-related measures introduced in the 105th Congress was a
package of 9 bills — all critical of China — which the House considered under one
rule (H.Res. 302) beginning on November 5, 1997. These measures, as well as
others, are described below. The public law number is indicated for those measures
that were enacted.
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 most-
favored-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 “de-link” 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. Early in
1998, U.S. officials let it be known that the United States would not introduce a
resolution critical of China's human rights practices at the annual Geneva meeting of
the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, even though the United States had
introduced such a resolution in previous years. As a result, on March 3, 1998,
Senator Connie Mack introduced S.Res. 187, a measure urging the United States to
introduce a human rights resolution at the annual U.N. meeting in 1998. The Senate
Foreign Relations Committee ordered S. Res. 187 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 has been the extent to which products made
by Chinese prisoners may be exported to the U.S. market. Long-standing U.S. law
prohibits and provides penalties for the import of products made with convict labor.6
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
agreement.7 The 105th Congress considered two bills designed to reinforce the U.S.
ban on prison labor imports, both of which provided for increased funding for
monitoring of prison labor and prison abuses in China.
H.R. 2195, Slave Labor Products Act [P.L. 105-261]. 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
version originally introduced 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 Ways and Means
Committee reported the bill on October 31, 1997 (H.Rept. 105-366, pt. 1). The
House International Relations Committee waived jurisdiction, and the bill was brought
to the House floor on November 5, 1997, under a rule (H. Res. 302) making nine
China-related bills in order. 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.
The Senate did not act on H.R. 2195. But on May 14, 1998, the Senate adopted
by voice vote an amendment (Hutchinson/Abraham) to S. 2057, the Defense
Authorization bill (S.Rept. 105-189), the provisions of which were similar to H.R.
having first substituted its text for that of H.R. 3616. Both House and Senate insisted
on their respective versions of H.R. 3616, and insisted on a conference. On
September 22, 1998, the conference report, H.Rept. 105-736, was filed, and both
houses passed it — the House on September 24 (373-50) and the Senate on October
1 (96-2). Title 37 of the enacted bill makes provisions for increased monitoring of
imports for products made with prison labor. The bill became P.L. 105-261 on
October 17, 1998.
H.R. 2358, Political Freedom in China Act. The bill, introduced by
Representative Ros-Lehtinen, authorized $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.
6Prison 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.
7See China-U.S. Trade Issues, CRS Issue Brief 91121, by Wayne Morrison.
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
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. On June 18, 1998, the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific
Affairs held hearings. No further action occurred.
Forced Abortion. 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 recurring 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 indirect8
support for coercive family planning, specifically in China.
H.R. 2570, Coercive Abortion Practices. Representative Fowler’s bill required
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 was 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. On June 18, 1998, the Senate Subcommittee on
East Asian and Pacific Affairs held hearings. No further action occurred.
8See Population Assistance and Family Planning Programs: Issues for Congress, CRS Issue
Brief 96026, by Larry Nowels and Kerry Dumbaugh.
Religious Freedom.9 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
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 was 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. 105-309, 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
China-related bills made in order by one rule, H.Res. 302. The House passed the bill
on November 6, 1997, by a vote of 366-54. The bill was referred to the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee on November 7, 1997. On June 18, 1998, the
Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs held hearings. No further action
H.R. 2431, Freedom From Religious Persecution Act of 1998 [P.L. 105-292].
Originally introduced as H.R. 1685 on May 20, 1997, Representative Wolf’s bill
established the U.S. Office of Religious Persecution Monitoring and imposed
sanctions against countries engaged in religious persecution. The bill was reintroduced
on Sept. 8, 1997, with limited but important 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. 105-
480) on April 1, 1998. The amended version of H.R. 2431 added language about the
Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China, which is the home of large numbers of
9See China’s Treatment of Religious Practices, CRS Report 97-882 F, by Kerry Dumbaugh
and Deborah Johnson.
Muslim Uighurs;10 established definitions and separate remedies for “Category 1"
persecution (officially sanctioned or conducted by the government), and “Category
2" persecution (not officially sanctioned); and softened 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. On July 6, 1998, the bill was placed on the
Senate legislative calendar for the first time. On July 7, 1998, the bill was placed on
the Senate legislative calendar for the second time, under General Orders.
The Senate passed the bill, amended, on October 9, 1998, by a vote of 98-0.
The following day, on October 10, 1998, the House acceded to the Senate
amendment. The President signed the bill on October 27, 1998, and it became P.L.
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. In
the past, Chinese officials have insisted on clarification and restatement of the U.S.
position that the United States does not recognize “two China's.”11
Controversy arose anew over Taiwan in the 105th Congress when President
Clinton, during his June 1998 summit visit to China, made a public statement about
U.S. policy toward Taiwan which some congressional observers thought contradicted
long-time U.S. policy pronouncements. According to a White House transcript of his
remarks during a roundtable discussion in Shanghai on June 30, 1998, President
Clinton said in response to a question about Taiwan:
I had a chance to reiterate our Taiwan policy, which is that we
don’t support independence for Taiwan, or two Chinas, or one
Taiwan-one China. And we don’t believe that Taiwan should be
a member in any organization for which statehood is a
requirement. So I think we have a consistent policy.
10In the past, this region of China has also been known as Chinese Turkestan or East
Turkestan. Since the name “East Turkestan” has been associated with independence
advocates in this region, China strongly objects to any reference to such an entity.
11For past U.S. policy statements on Taiwan's status, see Taiwan: Texts of the Taiwan
Relations Act and the U.S.-China Communiques, CRS Report 96-246 F, by Kerry
Dumbaugh; and China/Taiwan: Evolution of the "One China" Policy, CRS Report
RL30341, by Shirley Kan.
The President's remarks prompted several weeks of debate in the United States over
whether the United States was maintaining a consistent policy — the position strongly
defended by the Administration — or whether it had changed.
H.R. 2386, U.S.-Taiwan Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Cooperation Act. As
introduced, Representative Hunter’s bill, H.R. 2386 (H. Rept. 105-308), required the
United States to develop plans for a theater missile defense system for Taiwan, and
called 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, 1997. 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 301-
116. On November 7, 1997, the bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. On June 18, 1998, the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
held hearings. No further action occurred.
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, expressed the sense of Congress
that Taiwan should be admitted to the WTO without its admission being made
conditional upon China’s membership.12 The bill was referred to the House Ways and
Means Committee on July 17, 1997, and to the Subcommittee on Trade on July 24,
1997; no further action has occurred on it. Other language relating to Taiwan’s
membership in the WTO was included in Section 1722 of the House-passed version
of H.R. 1757, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, and in H.R. 4328, the
Omnibus Appropriations Act, which became P.L. 105-277. (See below.)
S.Con.Res. 107/H.Con.Res. 301, Reaffirming U.S. Commitments under the
Taiwan Relations Act (P.L. 96-8). Senator Trent Lott introduced the Senate
resolution on July 7, 1998, in response to the comments President Clinton made about
Taiwan at a roundtable discussion in Shanghai on June 30, 1998, during his summit
visit to China. In China, the President stated that the United States did not support
independence for Taiwan, did not support a two-China policy, and did not believe that
12See China and the World Trade Organization, CRS Report RS20139, by Wayne Morrison
and Lenore Sek.
Taiwan should be a member of international financial institutions where statehood was
a prerequisite. The Lott resolution reaffirmed U.S. policy positions in the Taiwan
Relations Act, including commitments on arms sales to Taiwan and to U.S. interest
in a peaceful resolution on the question of Taiwan's future. The Senate passed the
measure, amended, on July 10, 1998, by a vote of 92-0. The House resolution, H.
Con. Res. 301, was introduced in the House on July 17, 1998, by Representatives
Delay, Solomon, and Snowbarger. The measure was referred to the House
International Relations Committee. On July 20, 1998, the House passed the measure
by a vote of 390-1.
S.Con.Res. 30, Taiwan's International Status. On May 23, 1997, Senator
Helms introduced this resolution expressing the sense of Congress that Taiwan should
be permitted to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International
Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The Senate Foreign Relations
Committee reported the measure to the Senate on May 20, 1998, without written
report. The Senate considered it on July 10, 1998, amended it, and passed it by
unanimous consent. As amended, the measure expressed the sense of the Senate that
it should be U.S. policy to support the admission of Taiwan to international economic
organizations for which it is qualified, including the IMF and the IBRD. The measure
was referred to the House Banking Committee on July 14, 1998, and was referred to
the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy on July 31, 1998.
No further action occurred.
H.Con.Res. 270, Affirming America's Support for Taiwan. Representative
Solomon introduced this measure on April 30, 1998. It was referred to the
Committee on International Relations the same day, and to the Subcommittee on
Asia/Pacific on May 11, 1998. The Subcommittee completed consideration on May
21, 1998, and forwarded the measure to the full Committee, which marked up and
voted on the measure on June 5, 1998. As passed by the House passed on June 9,
1998, (by a vote of 411-0), the resolution expressed the sense of Congress that the
United States abides by its previous understandings of a "one China" policy, and that
the President should seek from China a public renunciation of any use of force against
Taiwan. After House passage, the bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee on June 10, 1998. No further action occurred.
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
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).13
H.Res. 188, Cruise Missile Proliferation. Representative Gilman’s resolution
found 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 began
broadcasting 5 hours a day in Mandarin Chinese and 2 hours a day in Tibetan.14
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 [see P.L. 105-261]. 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 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
13See 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
14See Radio Free Asia, CRS Report 97-52F, by Susan Epstein.
a vote of 401-21. The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
on November 13, 1997. On May 19, 1998, the Committee ordered the bill to be
reported favorably, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute (no written
report). On May 27, 1998, the bill was placed on the Senate calendar.
Although the full Senate did not take up H.R. 2232, on June 25, 1998, the
Senate did adopt virtually identical language as an amendment to S. 2057, the Defense
Authorization bill (Sec. 3903). On June 25, 1998, the Senate passed the language of
S. 2057 as an amendment to H.R. 3616, by a vote of 88-4. That bill became P.L.
In recent years, Congress has become concerned over activities in the United
States by China’s military and intelligence communities. This concern has been
prompted by a number of cases, including: Chinese military enterprises associated
with, or controlled by, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA); accusations of illegal
Chinese contributions to U.S. political campaigns in an efforts to gain political
influence; reports that U.S. companies may have illegally transferred sensitive missile
launch technology to China; and alleged Chinese espionage activities at U.S. nuclear
science labs.15 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 COSCO-owned 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 on February 6, 1996.16
H.R. 2190, Report on PRC Intelligence Activities [see P.L. 105-107].
Representative McCollum’s bill, introduced on July 17, 1997, required 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
Although the Senate version of this bill (S. 308) contained no similar provision, the
reporting requirement was included as Section 308 of the Conference Report (H.Rept.
15Although concern about Chinese espionage at U.S. nuclear science labs gained heightened
prominence in 1999, after the 105th Congress adjourned, similar cases were reported in the
press as early as 1990, and the FBI had reportedly been investigating alleged Chinese
espionage activities as early as 1986.
16See Long Beach: Proposed Lease by China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), CRS
Report 97-476F, by Shirley Kan.
report on November 6, 1997 by unanimous consent; the House passed it the following
day by a vote of 385-36. The President signed the bill on November 7, 1997, and it
became P.L. 105-107.
H.R. 2647, PLA Monitoring Legislation [see P.L. 105-261]. Representative
Fowler’s bill would have authorized 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 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.
Although the Senate did not take up H.R. 2647, on May 14, 1998, the Senate
adopted an amendment (Hutchinson/Abraham) to S. 2057, the Defense Authorization
Act, which imposed similar requirements to those imposed by H.R. 2647. The Senate
passed the text of S. 2057, as an amendment to H.R. 3616, on June 25, 1998, by a
vote of 88-4. By unanimous consent, Senate Report 105-189 was deemed to be the
accompanying committee report. That bill became P.L. 105-261.
H.R. 3616 (Spence)/S. 2057 (Thurmond), The Defense Authorization Act
[P.L. 105-261]. 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
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 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, it allowed for an additional 2 hours of general
debate on U.S. policy toward China, and made in order 6 of the proposed
When the House debated H.R. 3616 on May 20-21, 1998, it passed all 6 of the
amendments: 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 (by a vote of 417-4); Bereuter — prohibiting U.S.
participation in any investigation of a launch failure of a U.S. satellite in China (by a
vote of 414-7); Hefley — prohibiting the transfer of U.S. missile equipment or
missile-related technology to China (by a vote of 412-6); Hunter — prohibiting export
or re-export of any U.S. satellites to China (by a vote of 364-54); and also, placing
U.S. satellites on the U.S. Munitions List and making their export subject to Arms
Export Control Act licensing requirements (part of an en bloc amendment that passed
by voice vote); and Gilman — establishing requirements for nuclear energy-related
exports, including provision for joint resolutions of disapproval in Congress for
related export licenses (by a vote of 405-9). The House passed H.R. 3616, as
amended, on May 21, 1998, by a vote of 357-60. On June 25, 1998, the Senate
struck all after the enacting clause of H.R. 3616 and substituted the text of S. 2057.
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 his International Emergency
Economic Powers Act (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 (Section 3601 of S. 2057) imposed 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 (Section 3702-3704
of S. 2057) 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 resumed consideration of S. 2057 on June 19, 1998, and from June
22-25, 1998, finally passing the bill on June 25, 1998, by a vote of 88-4. In addition
to the above amendments, the Senate on June 25 adopted another Hutchinson
amendment (as Section 3903 of S. 2057) that was virtually identical to H.R. 2232, the
Radio Free Asia Act of 1997, which the House passed on November 9, 1997, by a
vote of 401-21. The Senate passed S. 2057, amended, on June 25, 1998, by a vote of
Senator Hutchinson had offered other China-related amendments to S. 2057,
most of which were similar to bills the House passed in November 1997. (See the
Congressional Record of June 22, 1998, p. S6740.) They included measures
concerning forced abortion (similar to H.R. 2570), multilateral development bank
funding (similar to H.R. 2605), visas for certain Chinese officials (similar to H.R.
967), and satellite controls under the U.S. munitions list. Senator Warner offered the
Hutchinson package through the vehicle of a motion to recommit S. 2057. Two
tabling motions to the motion to recommit were defeated overwhelmingly, and may
not have been an effective measure of Senate views on the China-related amendments.
Ultimately, Senator Warner withdrew his motion to recommit and the amendments
attached to it, and so the four amendments were not included in the final Senate-
passed version of the bill (H.R. 3616).
Both House and Senate insisted on their respective versions of H.R. 3616, and
insisted on a conference. On September 22, 1998, the conference report, H.Rept.
50) and the Senate on October 1 (96-2). The bill became P.L. 105-261 on October
17, 1998. As enacted, the public law contains provisions concerning U.S. commercial
activity by Chinese military companies (Sec. 1207); provisions concerning controls
on satellite exports (Sec. 1511-1516); provisions for enhanced monitoring of imports
made by prison labor (Sec. 3701-3703); and provisions concerning Radio Free Asia
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 gave the select committee broad jurisdiction to investigate
technology transfer issues; the conduct and decision making 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 called 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. On June 22, 1998, the
Speaker appointed the following 8 Members to the Select Committee chaired by
Representative Cox: Goss, Bereuter, Hansen, Weldon, Dicks, Spratt, Roybal-Allard,
and Scott. On December 30, 1998, the Select Committee announced that the
conclusions of its classified report were that U.S. national security had been harmed.
Economic issues — particularly trade issues, China’s accession to the World
Trade Organization (WTO), and the annual review of China’s MFN/NTR (normal
trade relations) 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 (G-7) 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
H.R. 1712, China Market Access and Export Opportunities Act of 1997.
Representative Bereuter introduced his bill on May 22, 1997. The bill addressed
China’s WTO accession and the annual U.S. review of China’s MFN status.
17See 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 Report
RL30225, by Vladimir Pregelj.
According to the bill’s statement of purpose, it offered 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 authorized the President to 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, and to the Trade Subcommittee on June 3, 1997. (See S. 1303,
H.R. 2605, Communist China Subsidy Reduction Act. Representative
Solomon’s bill directed 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, moderated 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
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, and was referred to the Subcommittee
on East Asian and Pacific Affairs on June 18, 1998. No further action occurred.
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 had 90 days from that date in which to act to
pass this joint resolution in order to disapprove the President's recommendation. Such
joint resolutions 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 reported it out adversely (voice vote) on June 25, 1998. The
House rejected the measure on July 22, 1998, by a vote of 166-264, making Senate
Apart from the single-issue, stand-alone bills described above, the 105th Congress
considered several other major bills which contained one or more China-related
18For a history of congressional action on MFN since 1989, see CRS Report 98-603, China’s
MFN Status: Congressional Consideration, 1989-1998, by Kerry Dumbaugh.
H.R. 1757, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY1998-FY1999. The bill,
introduced by Representative Gilman, authorized appropriations for State Department
activities and consolidated foreign affairs agencies of the United States. The House
International Relations Committee had marked up an earlier version of the bill (H.R.
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 declared that Congress favored public U.S. support for Taiwan’s accession to
the WTO; section 1816 prohibited UNFPA from receiving U.S. funds unless the
President certified either that UNFPA had ended all its population activities in China
and would have no activities during the fiscal year the money was authorized, or that
there had 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
White House. Although the bill was cleared for the White House on April 18, 1998,
it was not presented for his signature until October 21, 1998. The President, who had
promised to veto the bill, did so on that day.
H.R. 2095, China Human Rights and Democracy Act of 1997. This bill,
introduced by Reps. Porter and Dreier, reportedly was developed after then Speaker-
of-the-House Newt Gingrich asked the two Members to review alternatives to
withdrawing China’s MFN status.19 Among other things, the bill included funding for
Radio Free Asia, expressed the sense of Congress that there should be round-the-
clock broadcasting in Asia in multiple languages, including Chinese, Tibetan,
Cantonese, and Uighur; required annual reports from the Secretary of State about
human rights violations in China, including religious persecution, development of
democratic institutions, and rule of law; expressed the sense of Congress that U.S.
businesses operating in China should adhere to a code of conduct; and prohibited 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 received no further
action. Attention instead shifted to an alternative — the so-called "Cox package" of
legislation discussed elsewhere in this report.
S. 1164, The China Policy Act of 1997. Senator Abraham’s bill, introduced on
September 11, 1997, set forth a fairly comprehensive U.S. China policy approach and
included provisions similar to those in other pending China bills. Among its
provisions, the legislation included 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. No
further action occurred.
S. 1303, The U.S.-China Relations Act of 1997. Senator Lieberman’s bill,
introduced on October 21, 1997, took a moderate and fairly conciliatory approach to
U.S.-China relations. It stated that its fundamental purpose was the integration of
China into the world community. S. 1303 required an annual accounting of U.S.
economic relations with China and encouraged 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 gave China permanent MFN upon accession to
the WTO; required greater information on energy and national security issues;
established a commission to promote the rule of law, respect for human rights,
religious tolerance, and civil society in China; and called 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 incorporated 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. No further action occurred.
19Cited in The Congressional Quarterly, June 14, 1997, p. 1390.
China-related Provisions in Other Enacted Legislation
H.R. 1119, Military Construction Authorizations [P.L. 105-85]. Included in
this enacted legislation was a provision requiring a report on the military capabilities
of the United States, and a provision stating that the annual report of the threat to the
United States from ballistic missiles must include an assessment of the probability of
Russia and China joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The bill
was enacted as P.L. 105-85 on November 18, 1997.
H.R. 2159, Foreign Operations Appropriations [ P.L. 105-118]. Legislation
making appropriations for foreign operations, export financing, and other programs
was enacted with several provisions relating to China. One of these provisions limited
U.S. funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to $25 million and
prohibited any of these funds from being used for programs in China. In addition, the
enacted language prohibited U.S. funds from being obligated to indirectly finance any
assistance to China. The bill became P.L. 105-118 on November 26, 1997.
H.R. 4103, DOD Appropriations [P.L. 105-262].. Section 8120 of the FY1999
DOD Appropriations conference report (H.Rept. 105-746) provided that no funds can
be used to enter into or renew a contract with a PRC-owned company or a Chinese
military-owned company. The President signed H.R. 4103 into law on October 17,
H.R. 4328, Omnibus Appropriations [P.L. 105-277]. A number of provisions
relating to China were included in the massive omnibus appropriations bill enacted on
October 21, 1998. Among these were a requirement that Congress be notified 15
days in advance before any funds can be spent for processing licenses for U.S. satellite
exports to China; a provision allowing "Economic Support Fund'' monies to be
provided to non-governmental organizations outside China whose primary purpose
is to foster democracy in China (such activities to include dissident and opposition
programs, legislative reforms, and democratic reform of village committee elections,
but specifically not to include support for the China Rule of Law program); a
provision setting aside $150,000 in the FY99 budget for the U.S. Information Agency
for Inter-Parliamentary Exchanges with China and Korea; a statement that Congress
favors public support by U.S. State Department officials for Taiwan's entry to the
World Trade Organization; and a provision exempting inertial reference units,
components in manned civilian aircraft, and spare parts for civilian aircraft from the
certification requirements that Section 1512 of the Defense Authorization Act of
FY1999 specifies for exports of missile equipment or technology to China.
S. 858, Intelligence Authorization [P.L. 105-107]. Legislation to authorize
appropriations for intelligence activities of the United States was enacted with a
House-passed provision, similar to that in H.R. 2190, directing the Directors of the
CIA and the FBI to prepare and transmit to Congress a report on China's intelligence
activities directed against or affecting U.S. interests. (S.Rept. 105-24). The provision
was enacted as P.L. 105-107 on November 20, 1997.
S. 1026, Export-Import Bank Reauthorization [P.L. 105-121]. Introduced on
July 17, 1997, legislation to reauthorize the Exim Bank was enacted with a provision
that allows the President to direct the Exim Bank Board to deny credits and other
assistance to Russia if he determines that Russia has transferred to China an SS-N-22
missile system that represents a significant and imminent threat to the security of the
United States (H.Rept. 105-76). The bill became P.L. 105-121 on November 26,