Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky went to Capitol Hill Thursday to make the case for renewed trading rights with China. Under U.S. law, the president annually must seek congressional approval to waive high tariffs on China.

The two officials made their plea for normal trading rights before the Senate Finance Committee, which was generally receptive. And why not? Prohibitively high tariffs with China would cut off most trade, start a trans-Pacific Cold War and damage both economies. The only mystery is why this debate still occurs every year.

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