Case 201 - Human Rights and Trade: The Clinton Administration and China
Auger, Vincent A.
This three-part case study examines the Clinton administration’s efforts to balance important competing interests in its policy toward China: trade and human rights. Specifically, the administration had to decide whether to link renewal of China’s most-favored-nation trading status to a demonstrable improvement in Beijing’s human rights practices. Part A examines the development of policy from January to May 1993, when the administration was legally bound to make its first decision regarding MFN linkage. Part B describes the policy adopted by Clinton in May 1993, which conditioned future MFN renewal on China’s human rights record and the administration’s attempt to implement that policy over the next 12 months. It ends with the second decision point in May 1994, when the president had to decide whether to penalize China for inadequate progress on human rights by revoking or limiting its MFN status. Part C describes Clinton’s May 1994 decision on MFN and the immediate aftermath.