America to Strip China’s Permanent Free Trade Status

After closing 50,000 domestic manufacturing plants and losing nearly 4 million jobs due to the approval of US free trade with China, American lawmakers have moved to strip the special trade ties with its arch-rival. The US Republican Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Budd, Rick Scott, and JD Vance introduced the China Trade Relations Act on January 26 to end China’s Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status.

According to Senator Cotton of Arkansas, the legislation would require China to obtain the most-favoured-nation (MNF) status with annual Presidential approval. The approval would be granted based on human rights records and trade abuses as factors for disqualification from the MNF status. “Communist China has enjoyed permanent most-favoured-nation status for two decades, exacerbating the loss of American manufacturing jobs. China never deserved this privilege in the first place, and China certainly doesn’t deserve it today. Time to protect American jobs and hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its forced labour camps and gross human rights violations,” Cotton said.

In 2000, under the impetus of former US President Bill Clinton and approved by Congress, China obtained the “Permanent Normal Trade Relations” status of the US. In 2001, with the support of the Bush administration, China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cares about one thing – destroying the United States. There is no reason for the United States to use preferential treatment and ‘most-favoured-nation treatment’ to help the trade operations of the Communist Party government.” Senator Scott from Florida said and added that “now is the time to put the interests of the United States (instead of the CCP) in the first place and overturn this outdated law.”

Nearly 4 million jobs disappeared from the American economy from 2001 to 2018 due to the approval of US free trade with China, including almost three million domestic manufacturing jobs, as multinational corporations quickly moved jobs and transferred overseas without government penalty. During the same period, at least 50,000 US manufacturing plants closed.

“In Ohio, we’ve lost more than 130,000 jobs since Congress made the catastrophic mistake of granting China special trade privileges two decades ago. I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of this job loss, and I know that we are long overdue to act to reverse this trend. This legislation is a powerful step to defend American jobs and revitalise our domestic manufacturing capabilities,” said Vance, a newly elected Senator from Ohio, in November 2022.

Senator Budd of North Carolina said, “the Chinese Communist Party is not a friend of the United States, nor is it a force for good in the world. From human rights violations to the theft of American jobs and intellectual property, the Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable. One of the most effective ways to counter the Chinese Communist Party is to promulgate the Cotton Senate Congressman’s Bill to terminate China’s permanent normal trade relationship status”. According to this Bill, after China’s accession to the WTO, the United States will terminate the annual review of China’s most-favoured-nation treatment in accordance with the relevant provisions of the 1974 Trade Act and establish a permanent normal trade relationship with China. Giving China this trade status contributed to the “China Trade Shock” that destroyed 4 million American jobs after 2001. It has also led to a surge in business investment in China, making China even more powerful and dangerous.