Chuck Colson:  This Beautiful System

 Selling Our Souls

Not one red cent!" said President Clinton in a recent press conference. He pounded the lectern and declared that we would not send "one red cent" to rebuild bombed out Serbia if it would help President Milosevic remain in power.

Yet, even as he condemned Milosovic, Clinton was preparing to open the floodgates of financial largess to another gang of tyrants: the leaders of China. The president is proposing we grant China "Most Favored Nation status," which has been renamed "Normal Trade Relations" in order to make it more palatable to the public.

But if he goes through with his plan without making demands on the Chinese, the president will be making a Faustian bargain that Americans will surely regret.

In Goethe?s play Faust, a scholar sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for godlike power and knowledge. But ironically, America is cutting a deal with China in which, unlike Faust, we may not get anything in exchange for selling our national soul.

Our bargain with China goes something like this. We get to sell American products to the huge Chinese market so long as we overlook a laundry list of Chinese abuses: forced abortions, the persecution of Chinese Christians, and, just in the last few days, dangerous threats against Taiwan. A Faustian bargain, indeed.

In our quest for riches, we may even be compromising our national security. The Clinton administration is doing everything it can to keep quiet recent revelations about Chinese nuclear espionage because it wants to protect American access to those Chinese markets.

The worst of it all is that America would be selling her soul for nothing. Chinese President Jaing Zemin recently told Communist party officials that there?s going to be no privatization of the state sector?the largest part of China?s economy. China, he declared, will continue to be guided by Marxist economic theory. In other words, no one should mistake China?s modest experiments in capitalism for the real thing. And, without privatization of major industries, you can kiss that huge Chinese market goodbye.

In fact, Chinese markets have remained closed to many American goods and services?even while China has run up huge trade surpluses with the United States. That?s not going to change and our Fausts in Washington will have sold America?s soul for empty promises.

Now, I?m not against trade relations with China. It?s one important way the Chinese are going to see how much better democracy is, and then demand it for themselves. But I am opposed to making any deal in which America comes out the loser?financially and morally.

If the president wants the Chinese to enjoy normal trade relations, then he must assure Americans that he?s going to do something about Chinese abuses. For starters, we ought to insist that President Clinton forcefully enforce the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. Remember, China still stands by the Tiananmen Square Massacre. We still hear stories of Catholic priests being murdered and other Christians thrown in prison or slave labor camps?simply because they choose to worship Christ. All of this must come to an end.

If we don?t insist on these changes, America will be engaging in the worst kind of Faustian bargain. We will be selling our souls?both economically and morally?and getting nothing in return.