Sept. 19, 2000
Senate Agrees: Greed is Good
Final Passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations
for China Reeks from Stench of Corporate Cash
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Passage of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for China over strong public opposition demonstrates how corporate cash has infected our political system, Public Citizen said today. Public opposition to PNTR for China — polled at 79 percent in a Harris poll in April — was overcome by a $113 million tidal wave of corporate special interest money.
Passage of PNTR came after one of the costliest corporate campaigns in history and was propelled by the full use of the White House s resources. Corporate America, including the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and multinational members such as Motorola and Boeing, spent an estimated $113 million dollars on lobbying, media advertising and political donations — all targeted at undecided members of Congress. (Public Citizen will soon release a report detailing the massive corporate campaign, which exceeded the battles over NAFTA and President Clinton s health care plan in the early 1990s.)
“Congress has sold out to corporate interests and betrayed the concerns of working Americans,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said. “When American businesses look to China, they see extraordinary profits made possible by the current regime s continued human rights violations and tolerance for inhumane treatment of workers.”
The coalition that opposed the bill — including prominent Chinese dissidents, consumer, environmental, human rights, family farm, religious and labor groups — will continue to demand that human and labor rights and public health and safety take precedent over international trade agreements.
“Members of Congress will rue the day they took the corporate cash and turned a blind eye to the human rights horrors and economic implications their local constituents prioritized,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen s Global Trade Watch.
“Big business is buying American democracy one star off the flag at a time, and many in Congress are selling,” Wallach said. “Buying up formidable lobbying and public relations savvy was only part of a campaign that marinated the Congress in unprecedented millions in corporate cash.”