Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Trade pact with China
ends a major irritant

Bullet The issue: The Clinton administration has concluded a trade agreement with Beijing that will open Chinese markets more widely to U.S. companies.

Bullet Our view: The agreement is welcome but should not overshadow China's human rights violations.

A trade agreement that will open China's markets more widely to U.S. companies is welcome news, especially in view of the 13 years that have passed since negotiations began. The agreement paves the way for China's admission into the World Trade Organization, which would give Beijing the recognition it craves as a full-fledged member of the family of nations.

An attempt to conclude a Sino-American pact last April failed when President Clinton, to Beijing's annoyance, rejected concessions offered by Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji. At that time relations between Washington and Beijing were strained by charges of Chinese spying on U.S. nuclear weapons projects and other issues, making it difficult for Clinton to make a deal however favorable the terms.

Recently those strains have eased somewhat. Both sides appeared determined to conclude an agreement, although it took six days of tough bargaining, with Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky leading the U.S. negotiators, to succeed.

For the United States, the agreement means more than wider access to Chinese markets. It also furthers the policy of engaging China in a web of interaction that would discourage Beijing from resorting to force and may strengthen democratic tendencies.

However, success in these negotiations should not be permitted to overshadow concern over China's violations of human rights -- recently involving the spiritual movement Falun Gong -- its threats to invade Taiwan and its attempts to obtain U.S. military technology.

U.N. and abortion

Bullet The issue: A compromise on the abortion issue would include congressional approval to pay the United States' debt of nearly $1 billion to the United Nations.

Bullet Our view: U.S. world leadership should no longer be jeopardized by the battle over the abortion issue.

SEVERAL weeks of negotiations have produced a tentative agreement over handling of the abortion issue that would result in payment of the United States' $1 billion in delinquent dues to the United Nations. Abortion-rights advocates and opponents alike are miffed by the compromise. However, the abortion issue no longer should be allowed to undermine America's global leadership role.

The debt has been an embarrassment to the United States and has pushed the U.N. into a financial crisis. If the U.S. were to fail to meet a Dec. 31 deadline for payment it would lose its vote in the General Assembly, although retaining its vote and seat on the Security Council.

Some congressional Republicans had demanded that the U.S. cut off financing to international organizations that promote abortion rights overseas. Congress has barred federal financing for abortions domestically since 1973 and since 1997 has attached anti-abortion provisions to bills that would repay the U.N. debt.

The two sides agreed that for fiscal 2000 -- which runs through next Sept. 30 -- the law would forbid federally supported groups from lobbying for liberalized abortion laws overseas.

The president would be able to waive the restriction, but if he did, there would be a reduction in the $385 million the United States plans to spend this year for foreign family planning programs. The reduction reportedly would be as little as $10 million.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who had urged the White House to compromise, called the agreement "a very important decision for our national security."

Any anti-abortion language is bound to inflame advocates of abortion rights, but the effects of the compromise on financing of family-planning organizations are minimal. Unyielding positions on the abortion issue should not be allowed to further imperil the nation's leadership role.

Airport security

Bullet The issue: Honolulu police have been replaced by state sheriff's deputies in patroling Honolulu Airport.

Bullet Our view: Full cooperation between the Sheriff's Office and the Honolulu Police Department is essential.

STATE sheriff's deputies have taken on a new, more conspicuous role -- patroling Honolulu Airport. The deputies replaced Honolulu police officers at the airport at midnight Sunday, ending two decades of service at the airport by the Honolulu Police Department. Will the change affect security?

The change was dictated by financial considerations. The state Department of Transportation terminated the $20 million police contract two months ago, complaining of high overtime costs. Also the deputies' salaries are lower than the HPD's. The department said the move will save the state between $500,000 and $750,000 a year.

Saving such amounts is certainly worth pursuing. But the sheriff's deputies still have to prove themselves in this role.

Lt. Rod Kauhane of the Sheriff's Office acknowledged that "this is a new chapter for us. We are moving more into a high-profile law enforcement patrol function, which we have never done before." Kauhane added that the 27 airport deputies have undergone training, and he is confident they can handle the job.

Under an interim agreement, the sheriff's deputies will handle misdemeanors at the airport; Honolulu police will be called in to handle felonies.

Airport manager Stanford Miyamoto said HPD has been cooperating in the transition. However, beyond the transition period, full cooperation between the two law enforcement agencies will be necessary when emergencies arise at the airport, as they inevitably will.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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