AFL-CIO China Policy: Labor's New Step Forward or the Cold War Revisited?
The issues of most favored nation (MFN) status and permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China have sparked a great deal of discussion within not only U.S. labor circles, but Ameri can society as a whole. The AFL-CIO, as the central voice of U.S. labor, has taken a particularly vehement stand against normalizing trade relations with China based on China's abysmal human rights record. This article is an attempt to examine that stand in relation to the AFL-CIO's history of Cold War, anti-communist activism, and the nature of free trade as put forth by such international economic entities as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Bank. Is it fair for the AFL-CIO to single out China for issues that most members of the WTO and World Bank are themselves guilty of, too? Does the AFL-CIO's stance against China represent a progressive con cem for human rights, or is it a throwback to the Cold War era policies of the Meany/Kirkland years? The following article is a modest attempt to examine these questions.