In her Nov. 21 op-ed column "Seize the Deal" welcoming China into the World Trade Organization, Carla Hills cited Human Rights Watch to bolster her argument that Congress should grant China permanent normal trade relations status by repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment. This misrepresents our views.
Human Rights Watch believes that China's membership in the WTO could increase respect for human rights, but only if it is combined with consistent external pressure. China's commitment to abide by global trading standards will not automatically yield a greater commitment to international human rights standards unless China's major trading partners insist on that connection.
Congress can play a role by rejecting Ms. Hills's advice on granting unconditional permanent normal trade relations status and insisting on meaningful steps to improve human rights and worker rights first.
Both the United States and China have an incentive to make the WTO deal stick. But getting China to make concessions on human rights will require hard-nosed bargaining by the administration. It's up to Congress to jump-start the process by attaching human rights conditions to permanent normal trade relations status.
Washington Director, Asia Division
Human Rights Watch