Reports like the shocking news coming from China may become even more common under the United States’ new “don't ask, don't tell” trade arrangement with the communist regime.

The Congress and President Clinton last year granted China permanent most favored nation status (renamed “normal” trading status to deflect concerns about China's human rights record). That means that we will trade on the same basis with China as we do with Belgium, only without the traditional reviews and without the need for regular authorization from Congress.

Catholic critics said that this was like giving China a blank check. In effect, we've agreed in advance to look the other way regardless what China does to its imagined “enemies of the state”—a category which includes simple Catholic faithful. After the Senate and Clinton sealed the deal last summer, China sent a delegation to Washington to thank America for the favor. Then, Chinese henchmen got busy at home, stepping up a campaign to destroy churches and, if the following report is true, harass priests and nuns.

A Jan. 4 report from a Taiwanese news service goes like this: A Father Lin was meeting in November with five nuns and six others, seminarians and lay people, to pray in a room at a Luoyuan County restaurant when Communist Party officials showed up uninvited.

Father Lin enraged one thug by defending religious freedom. The official broke the statue of the Blessed Mother the group planned to use in the prayer service. County police and communist officials reportedly videotaped the incident.

The Catholics were taken to what amounts to a jail that night and sent to various detention arrangements the next day. Two nuns and a laywoman were taken Nov. 4 to a “government office” in Fengshan town, where they were starved and kept awake for two days as they were forced to listen to anti-Catholic propaganda.

On Nov. 7, after what the news reports call “verbal sexual harassment,” the nuns were forced to sign a prepared document saying they renounced their faith.

This kind of brutality against religious would be precisely the sort of thing that would imperil a China trade vote under the old system. But the Chinese have no reason to fear U.S. reaction to their tactics now.

They needn't fear reaction to the communist-created version of the church which forces believers to deny their fidelity to Rome. They needn't fear the consequences of China's one-child policy: Forced abortion and sterilization are used to enforce it and families often abandon girls and handicapped babies in order to make their one child a “good” one.

Perhaps our representatives have decided not to notice what is happening in communist China. We should remind them repeatedly that their constituents have made no such decision.

Inauguration Nation

After the bitter election fight, here are a couple of quotes that serve to remind us why we are blessed to live in America:

“On Jan. 20 ... the person standing up before the Capitol taking the oath of office ... will be sworn in as my president too. I will spare no efforts in saying to people who supported me, ‘Let's not have any talk about stealing the election, let's not question the legitimacy of the election.’”

— Al Gore Jr.

“I pledge to President-elect Bush my efforts and the best efforts of every member of our administration for a smooth and successful transition.”

— Bill Clinton