This report provides background information and a general overview of the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy. It includes a discussion of some traditional arguments about how international human rights concerns might be integrated with other foreign policy factors. It also includes a discussion of the definition of human rights, of U.S. international obligations to promote human rights, and the apparatus and procedures available to the U.S. Government for implementing human rights policy. Particular attention is paid to congressional actions, not only in debating and holding hearings on human rights issues, but especially in enacting laws to assure that U.S. foreign policy formulation and practice include consideration of the status of human rights in other countries.
The improved political relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.), initiated by the Nixon Administration and furthered by the Carter Administration's decision to establish diplomatic relations, has spurred a rapid increase in Sino-U.S. trade. While still small relative to overall U.S. foreign trade, the volume of trade represents an abrupt shift from the no-trade policy that had been pursued since 1950. Despite the rapid expansion, outstanding issues remain as serious barriers to normalized trade. Resolution of those issues may require concession or accommodations by the Chinese leadership as well as action by both the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch. However, the development of a new approach to foreign economic relations by the post-Mao Chinese leadership and the establishment of diplomatic relations have laid the ground work for a further expansion of commercial relations.