A Firing Line Debate: "Resolved: That Trade with China Should Not Be Interrupted"

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Taped on October 14, 1997. The dispute over trade with China, as Mr. Kinsley points out, has made strange bedfellows, with opinions about what is the best way to effect improvements in China's human-rights behavior breaking down not at all according to party lines-as today's lineup indicates. Mr. Buckley leads off-after citing his own credentials as one who did not toast Chou En-lai in Peking in 1972-by "welcom[ing] the evolution of China from the totalitarian state confronted by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in 1972 to the authoritarian state of today in which the Asian colossus dips its feet in the waters of economic freedom." To Mr. Bauer, "The truth is that tonight's debate is not really about trade, and, in fact, I do not believe ... [it has] that much to do with China. This debate tonight is about America, about who we are, and whether American values can still prevail..." Mr. Kissinger has a lifetime of cards to play: "As someone who spent his childhood in a totalitarian state and left from it as a refugee, I have a deep appreciation of the fundamental importance of American values ... But as somebody who had to conduct the foreign policy of the United States on behalf of two Presidents, I also have an appreciation of what is required to preserve the peace and to bring about the possibilities of progress in other countries." And we're off and running on a high-energy exchange that ranges from Tiananmen Square to China's trade surplus-and that occasionally skirts the borderline of civility, as in Mrs. Huffington's suggestion that Mr. Kissinger is motivated by personal financial interests (Kissinger: "I regret that we have reached this sort of a point. Since you have done a lot of research, it would be easy for you to find out that my position on these issues has been the same before there were any commercial interests in China"). Summary by Firing Line staff.moreless

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