Week 14 Blog Post

HST 271 Blog Post week 14

This week, we talked about China from the 1990’s to the present day. As we discussed in class, China has had massive economic growth during the past few decades, but this has contributed to pollution and global warming. We also addressed the US changing its foreign policy in the 1990’s based on China’s economic growth. For example, on May 27, 1994, President Bill Clinton made a controversial speech announcing that the US would renew China’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) status despite China’s human rights violations and use “moral suasion” to promote Chinese people’s rights (Chen 572). Clinton said the US government would “delink human rights from the annual extension of Most Favored Nation trading status for China” (Chen 573) because it would benefit Americans’ economic interests. This raised questions about whether it is ethical to conduct business with a country that is violating its people’s rights. To me, it seems like Clinton was being dismissive of human rights because economic ties with China would help with American jobs. However, there seems to be a double standard because I haven’t seen other countries’ leaders talking about America’s human rights issues and whether they should affect trade. 

What I found the most interesting was our discussion on China’s role in environmental issues. The article I read for Friday’s class was about the electric car market in China. According to the New York Times article “In China, a Big Auto Show Returns to a Country That Has Gone Electric” by Keith Bradsher, “E.V.s (electric vehicles) were a quarter of China’s market last year, compared with less than 6 percent in the United States.” When I started reading the article, I thought it would be a positive story. Electric cars are generally portrayed as good for the environment because driving them releases less carbon dioxide than gasoline cars. However, there is a downside. The lithium batteries that power electric cars are not sustainable. There is a scarce amount of lithium in the world, and lithium mining causes greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change (Bradsher). The increase in electric cars bought in China will cause its own set of environmental problems. I think the best course of action for the environment would be to reduce the amount of cars bought overall and support public transportation, but this would be difficult because it involves government cooperation. Chinese citizens have little say in their national government, so it would be hard for them to enact change in environmental policy if they wanted.

Bill Clinton meets Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 1997


Bradsher, Keith. “In China, a Big Auto Show Returns to a Country That Has Gone Electric.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 19, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/19/business/shanghai-auto-show-electric-vehicles.html?searchResultPosition=3.

“President Clinton Reevaluates Human Rights as element of China Policy, May 27, 1994” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.






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