Exclusive: Rep. Chris Smith Presents Bill to Strip China of Trade Privileges

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 19: Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., prepares for a news conference at t
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would tie China’s trade privileges in the United States to improving its deplorable human rights record, requiring the communist government to shut down concentration camps, stop harvesting the organs of political prisoners, and cease “economic espionage” it wishes to enjoy normal trade relations with America.

Smith outlined in a statement the legislation intends to prevent China from continuing to get an “absolute pass” from Washington on its long list of human rights atrocities, ranging from silencing dissidents to repressing people of faith to genocide against non-Han ethnic minorities. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) cosponsored the bill, titled the China Trade Relations Act.

The bill addresses communist China’s current near-total access to the American market as a result of being granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations status in light of its joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2000. Congress greenlit promoting China to America’s friendliest trade status under pressure from President Bill Clinton that year, who had dedicated tremendous efforts in foreign policy to granting China the benefits of trade with the free world without making any changes to its repressive political system. China ultimately joined the WTO in 2001 with the blessing of Clinton’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

Chinese officials used their privileged trade status to flood America with cheaply made goods often linked to factories with records of labor abuses. In the past half-decade, concerns about labor abuses have dovetailed with growing awareness of the genocide against Uyghur, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz Muslims in East Turkistan. As part of the campaign to eradicate non-Han culture in the occupied region, China has imprisoned as many as three million people in concentration camps it calls “vocational and educational training centers.” Survivors of the camps have listed slavery as one of a litany of human rights abuses they endured there, in addition to indoctrination, beatings, torture, gang rape, forced sterilization, and medical testing consistent with live organ harvesting.

In 2020, a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) revealed dozens of companies – including household names such as Apple, Nintendo, and BMW – were using Chinese supplier companies known to buy Uyghur slaves from the government. China’s government-controlled internet is full of online advertisements selling Uyghur slaves “in batches of 50 to 100 workers,” Sky News reported a year later.

Watch below as a concentration camp survivor details the abuses inflicted by China’s Communist regime:

Matt Perdie / Breitbart News

The China Trade Relations Act would address the problem of China exporting slave-made products, and other abuses not directly tied to manufacturing, by revoking the special trade status Congress granted to China in 2000 and placing the burden on the president of the United States to either maintain that revocation or issue an executive order rewarding China with trade privileges in the event the Communist Party engages in genuine reform. It creates a responsibility to issue a biannual report on China’s human rights status to determine if it deserves trade privileges. Among the topics the bill directly addresses are China’s use of prison labor, abuses against workers, the establishment of concentration camps, “systemic economic espionage” against America, persecution in occupied Tibet, and “harvesting the organs of prisoners without their consent.”

“Ever since President Clinton delinked trade with China from human rights in 1994, the Chinese Communist Party has been growing into an economic power, stealing American jobs and intellectual property while getting an absolute pass for its heinous human rights abuses,” Rep. Smith said on Tuesday. “We must correct President Clinton’s horrific mistake and return to the pre-Clinton norm by making annual renewal of normal trade relations contingent on concrete progress on human rights.”

Four Senators – Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Budd (R-NC), Rick Scott (R-FL), and J.D. Vance (R-OH) – introduced an analogous China Trade Relations Act in the upper chamber of Congress last week.

Rep. Smith has dedicated much of his time in Congress to human rights issues, focusing in particular on defending the right to life and confronting human rights abuses in China. Rep. Smith introduced the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act alongside Rep. Tom Suozzi in the House of Representatives in 2018. In its final form, signed by President Donald Trump in 2020, the law sanctions Chinese government officials participating in the Uyghur genocide. Smith also cosponsored the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which went into effect last year and effectively bans the importing of products from occupied East Turkistan unless the importer can prove the product’s supply chain is not tainted by slave labor.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recently chose Rep. Smith to chair the Congressional-Executive Committee on China (CECC), a bipartisan body tasked to address the human rights crisis in China by, in part, maintaining “a list of human rights abuses in China.”

Smith said on Tuesday in a statement that he would prioritize as chair of that committee “exploring how to strengthen the linkage between human rights and trade and placing human rights at the forefront of all aspects of US policies toward China.”

The China Trade Relations Act is the latest in a series of actions taken by the new, Republican-led House of Representatives to address the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to human rights generally and America specifically. McCarthy has so far announced two new bodies in the chamber dedicated to addressing China: the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, which will investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic; and the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. The latter will reportedly focus on addressing the threats posed by Chinese intellectual property theft, rural land purchases, public health policies, and other fields.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.