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Economic issues increasingly define the United States foreign policy toward China one of Americas most important trading partners While exerting diplomatic pressure to bring a resolution of Chinas abusive policies on human rights and regional aggression the Clinton administration has been careful to preserve trading ties To do otherwise might jeopardize certain financial interests of American big business While Clintons strategy makes economic sense it does little to address issues of East Asian security a pressing national interest of the American people The expansion of trade has always figured prominently in President Clintons foreign policy agenda For instance Clintons economic program included the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA and a new trading agreement negotiated by the member nations of GATT the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade now renamed the World Trade Organization Early in his administration Clinton exhibited a tough stance against China by threatening heavy punitive tariffs on imports as a way of pressuring Beijing to halt the black-market pirating of US movies CDs and computer software China has followed the Third World line in taking full advantage of Western products without paying the companies that own them Overholt 385 Nevertheless in 1994 Clinton extended Chinas most favored nation trading status with the United States The trading status of most favored nation is an important designation It affirms that a particular country is a member of the world economic and political system Without such status Chinese markets that serve the United States most notably Hong Kong would have been dealt a serious economic blow In addition the United States would have found itself isolated by the international community many of whom support Chinas attempts at reform In 1996 the Clinton administration developed a China policy that it termed comprehensive engagement The three tenets of this policy are that China must be paid attention to that China is not an enemy of the United States and the acknowledgement that a variety of American
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