Tom Cotton Wants Annual Review Of China’s ‘Most Favored Nation’ Trade Status

( China currently has a permanent “most favored nation” status for trade with the United States. But, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton wants to change how that’s decided.

Cotton said Monday that he would soon introduce legislation that would repeal this status for China. Currently, it guarantees an opportunity for equal trading for a nation’s trade partners.

Cotton’s proposed legislation would require Congress and the president to annually re-assess China’s status. As Cotton said, if China were to “shoot missiles at our ships in the Western Pacific” or make moves in Hong Kong as it has done recently, “then we would be able to say each year we are not going to renew the most favored nation status for China.”

Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, was also the target of Cotton’s attacks on Monday. He said Biden has long supported giving more opportunities for trade to the Chinese Communist Party, which have led to bad relations.

“This week is the 20th anniversary of Joe Biden voting to give permanent most favored nation status to China. Just think about that — most favored nation status to a communist country,” Cotton said.

Cotton said this status has “supercharged the loss of American manufacturing jobs.” He also criticized Biden for defending the policy during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN.

Tapper questioned Biden by asking: “A lot of people think that allowing China into the World Trade Organization, which you supported, extending most favored nation status to China, which you supported, that those steps allowed China to take advantage of the United States by using our own open trade deals against us. Do you think, in retrospect, you were naïve about China?”

Biden did not, saying: “No, here is the thing. In the context of that, we want China to grow. We don’t want a war with China.”

Cotton has repeatedly disapproved of the former vice president’s stance on China. In March, he published an article for the National Review, which read, in part:

“In the critical fight over whether to grant most-favored-nation trade status and World Trade Organization membership to China in the 1990s — a fight in which, again, many of his party’s leaders in Congress were on the right side — Biden carefully shepherded China through the process from his powerful perch as the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Biden voted in 2000 to approve “Permanent Normal Trade Relations” with China. This opened up the possibility for the country to become a member of the WTO only one year after that.

In his letter, Cotton wrote:

“Wherever a brake might have been applied — by placing human-rights or labor conditions on most-favored-nation status, for example — Biden voted the measures down and lobbied other senators for Beijing. Unfortunately, China and Biden got their way, and American workers are still suffering from it.”

Cotton’s proposed legislation isn’t all that far-fetched, in reality. He’s only asking that China’s status be reviewed every year. It’s a reasonable proposal that both Chambers should seriously consider.