May 11, 2000
Pres. Clinton and Rep. Sawyer’s China Trade Meeting on Friday Exposed as More Circus than Big Tent
Closed Door Meeting with Hand-Picked “Public” Designed for Press Not People
AKRON, Ohio — An event President Clinton plans to attend with Ohio Rep. Tom Sawyer on the pending China proposal will be protested by hundreds of concerned citizens and workers who oppose the unpopular measure. Sawyer is under enormous pressure in his Ohio district because he has consistently supported unpopular trade deals and has said he may support the China deal.
The presidential visit at 9 a.m. Friday is part of an invitation-only round table discussion of the China proposal. It is being touted as a meeting of diverse business, labor and academic representatives. Yet, Rep. Sawyer selected the participants, locking out local labor, human rights and other leaders who have been pressuring him to oppose the administration’s call for Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China. These groups, joined by renowned Chinese dissident Harry Hongda Wu, will rally at the gate to the National Guard Airbase where the meeting will occur.
Recent polls indicate that 80 percent of Americans oppose extending PNTR to China without meaningful protections for human rights, labor rights and religious freedom in China.
“After infuriating his constituents with pro-NAFTA and pro-WTO votes, Rep. Sawyer’s political future is at stake with the China vote,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “Sawyer may have hoped the president would provide him some cover to support PNTR, but all this event has done is motivate those who believe that Sawyer no longer represents his constituents if he votes against them and for China PNTR.”
The demonstrators include hundreds of fair trade activists, citizens and union members. The gathering at the Air National Guard gate is less than a mile from a unionized tire factory that is being closed down as production is moved to a facility in Mexico.
“Clinton and Sawyer can’t pull the wool over the eyes of the American people any longer,” Wallach said. “The companies who want to relocate production to China might favor this deal, but the American people overwhelmingly oppose it, and Sawyer should remember, the corporate lobbyists and CEOs pushing for China PNTR don’t vote in Akron.”