Eight U.S. trade representatives
from six presidential administrations have announced their support for United
Airlines’ application for direct service between Washington, D.C. and
Beijing.In a letter to Acting U.S. Transportation Secretary Maria Cino, the
bipartisan group of former Cabinet-level officials cited the United States
and China’s unprecedented level of intertwined economic, geopolitical and
strategic interests in urging the government to select United’s
“As former United States Trade Representatives who have served in both
Republican and Democratic administrations, we are unanimous in our belief
that it is very much in our nation’s interest to do everything possible to
strengthen relationships between the United States and China,” they wrote.
China is the United States’ third-largest trading partner after
neighboring Canada and Mexico, and it is the second-largest foreign
purchaser of U.S. Treasury securities, the trade representatives said.
The letter’s eight authors served as the United States’ top trade
negotiators for a combined 35 years in administrations spanning from
Richard Nixon to George W. Bush.
“We are convinced that the Sino-American relations can be significantly
enhanced through increased and more regular personal visits by
Washington-based leaders in both the public and private sectors ... with
their Beijing counterparts,” the trade representatives said. “Currently the
opportunity for this kind of personal interaction is impeded by the lack of
a direct nonstop air link between Washington and Beijing.”
The letter is signed by William D. Eberle, (Nixon); Robert S. Strauss,
(Carter); William E. Brock III and Clayton K. Yuetter, (Ronald Reagan);
Carla A. Hills, (George H. W. Bush); Mickey Kantor and Charlene Barshefsky,
(Bill Clinton); and Robert Zoellick, (George W. Bush).
The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to decide by the end
of 2006 where it will award a new direct route between the United States
and China. Washington, D.C.—the fourth-largest and fastest growing
market in the country—is by far the largest metropolitan region without
nonstop service to China, the fastest-growing market for U.S. exports.
Washington also has the largest Chinese population of all U.S. markets
without nonstop service to China.