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Former Presidents Ford, Carter Affirm Support For Permanent Trade Agreement With ChinaAired May 9, 2000 - 1:22 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Two former presidents affirmed their support today for a permanent trade agreement with China.
CNN congressional correspondent Chris Black joins us with more about that from Capitol Hill -- Chris.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, President Clinton hosted a prestigious group of distinguished Americans in the East Room of the White House earlier today. The group was headlined by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. And the group also included international policy experts dating back to the Kennedy administration.
The purpose of the meeting was to emphasize the long, bipartisan U.S.-China tradition on policy. But it was also to address the concerns of undecided lawmakers. President Clinton and the two former presidents said trade with China is good for the United States and good for China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD FORD, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We want China's economic reform to succeed. Our own interests are best served by a steadily growing China.
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A negative vote on this issue in the Congress will be a serious setback, an impediment for the further democratization, freedom and human rights in China.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will help us because then we'll at least have some demonstration of our good faith commitment to the long-term decision they have made to try to be a more open society abiding by international rules of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: Although most of the opposition is coming from House Democrats, there is also some opposition among Republican in the House of Representatives. Earlier today, Representative Charles Norwood, a Republican from Georgia, argued against a yes vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHARLES NORWOOD (R), GEORGIA: There are three very good reasons to oppose bringing China into the WTO. One, of courses, is human rights. Two is that most of us up here don't really believe it will improve our trade with China, it will improve China's trade with us. And thirdly is the national security issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: But it is very clear that President Clinton is focusing most of his energy on those undecided Democrats. The White House officials say that the White House needs between 70 and 80 Democrats to vote in favor of permanent normal trade relations with China later this month, and so far both sides are saying it's too close to wall.
Chris Black. CNN, reporting live from Capitol Hill.
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