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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                        (Greenwich, Connecticut)
For Immediate Release                                       May 17, 2000


I am encouraged that the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have both approved legislation today authorizing the extension of Permanent Normal Trade Relations to China. Today's approval of PNTR is a significant step toward final passage by the Congress. The strong bipartisan votes in both committees send a clear, strong message that Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China is vital to America's prosperity at home, our leadership in the world, and to positive change in China.

The full Congress will now consider this legislation. Members will not decide whether China will join the WTO -- it will. Congress will decide whether we put American workers, farmers, and businesses at a disadvantage by denying them the access to and benefits from China's markets that their competitors in Japan and Europe will have. A vote for PNTR will bring down China's barriers to American exports, opening the largest potential market in the world to our goods and services. A vote against PNTR will cost us exports and jobs, and cede this massive new market to our competitors.

This is a decision of great importance and a moment of historic opportunity. In this, the last week before the final vote, I will redouble my efforts to convince Congress and the American people to seize that opportunity to strengthen our economy, our national security, and the forces of reform and positive change in China.