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U.S. Congressman Rohrabacher's spee
- Subject: U.S. Congressman Rohrabacher's spee
- From: freeburma@xxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 11:26:00
Subject: U.S. Congressman Rohrabacher's speech on the House floor (May 23, 1996)
Attn: Burma Newsreaders
RE: U.S. Congressman Rohrabacher's speech on the House floor
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Goss): Under the Speaker's announced policy of
May 12, 1995, the gentleman from California [Mr. Rohrabacher] is recognized
for 30 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. ROHRABACHER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California [Mr.
Dornan] for granting me this time from his 1-hour special order.
There are several issues that I would like to speak about today. Perhaps
there is one issue that I should begin with, because no one else seems to be
speaking out, although I know that it is close to the hearts of both
Republicans and Democrats here in the House of Representatives.
When we have our disagreements here in the House, one thing that we learn is
that although we disagree, we do have some fundamental agreements that keep
us together as Americans and that bind us to all of the American people. That
is, we do believe in democracy. We do believe in freedom of speech. We do
believe in these fundamentals that were fought for by George Washington,
whose picture is on our wall here in the Chamber of the House.
We believe that we have a commitment to the world, a commitment to the world
to stand for freedom because our forefathers were aided by people whose
picture is also here on the wall in our Chamber, Lafayette, who came here
to help us struggle for our freedom and independence over 200 years ago.
Basically he did so because he wanted to express a solidarity with the people
of the United States, knowing that we would be the champions of freedom. By
our very nature, our country is composed of people who come here from all
corners of the world, all parts of the world, every race, every religion,
every ethnic group is represented here, and we live together in freedom and
democracy. By that very nature, we owe the world something. That is the stay
true to those principles of freedom and democracy that our forefathers
proclaimed, not just the rights of Americans but the rights of all people.
In the last 48 hours, there has been a vicious attack on the cause of
democracy in the country of Burma . Burma is a country you do not hear much
about. Most Americans in fact probably think that Burma , the only thing
they relate to is BurmaShave, they think of BurmaShave. It must be some sort
of shaving cream or something.
In fact, Burma is a country with 48 million people in Southeast Asia. A
country that now is suffering under the heel of one of the world's most
vicious dictatorships. And over these last few years, many of us who have
been active in the human rights movement have tried to work and do our best
to see that perhaps Burma could evolve out of this dictatorship. The military
dictatorship in Burma is called SLORC. It is a name that basically fits the
regime because it sounds like it is right out of `Star Wars,' out of the
monstrous regimes that the freedom fighters in the film series `Star Wars,'
where the freedom fighters are fighting against the evil empire.
This evil empire in Burma is repressing the people. But there is, you might
say, a champion of freedom, a hero to the world who lives in Burma and has
tried to bring democracy to that country. It is Aung San Suu Kyi. Aung
San Suu Kyi was of course of Nobel prize winner 2 years ago. She has suffered
5 years of confinement. She was arrested by the SLORC regime. Then last year
she was set free and many of us hoped that there would be lessening of the
repression in Burma . But what has happened in the last 48 hours is that the
military dictatorship in Burma , SLORC, has rounded up almost 200 members of
the democratic opposition in Burma and arrested them.
Anyone who is meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, anyone who is involved in the
democratic movement is being arrested. Dr. Sein Win, the Prime Minister of
the democratic government in exile, testified in the Senate yesterday
that the situation in Burma is one of despair and despotism. Today his
brother, who is not even a member of the democratic movement, was arrested in
retaliation for what Prime Minister Sein Win testified about here in
So I have introduced a piece of legislation hopefully that will discourage
Americans from doing business in Burma . It is H.R. 2892, and we would hope
that the American people and American businessmen recognize that here is a
country that if anywhere we should take a stand for freedom. If anywhere in
the world we could take a stand and it will not hurt us and we just show that
we believe in freedom, it could be Burma . And there is no excuse for us not
to do so. There is no strategic interest there, there is no huge commercial
interest, but what is there are 48 million people suffering under the heal of
despotism, crying out to the United States for us to take a stand.
Take your stand, America. What side are you on?
When that cry goes out from people who are being oppressed, never should we
say we are on the side of the dictators, we are on the side of the
This country, this dictatorship in Burma , has financed its war on its own
people by selling off its teak forests, which have been decimated, by
basically selling its natural resources, its gems, to foreigners who have
come in and extracted it, and they put the money, the SLORC has put the money
into their own pockets and into their own coffers, and now it is even willing
to sell its natural gas resources to American companies. And where do these
moneys go? They go into the purchase of weapon systems of military equipment
and militarization of this country that is used to repress their own people.
Furthermore, this monstrous regime that represses its own people in Burma has
taken its resources also by becoming involved in the drug trade. Many people
in our country wanted us to actually cooperate with the Government of Burma ,
with its dictatorship, thinking that we could together stand against drugs.
Others of us believed, as I think has been reconfirmed, that the dictatorship
in Burma is up to their necks in the drug trade. They have not refrained from
becoming involved in growing opium and selling heroin because of some kind of
morality. If they had any morality, they would not be murdering their own
people, and that was brought home more recently when the drug lord Kung Saw,
who was famous in the United States, or I should say infamous in the United
States, he was put out of business by the Burmese military dictatorship, and
what has happened? Kung Saw, he may have gone into retirement; of course he
is not in jail, he is in retirement in Rangoon; but the drug trade and the
drug production from his area, which is now under government control,
continues at the level that it was.
Aung San Suu Kyi, this heroine of freedom, this women who in our time shows
an example to the world of what we should be like as Americans, champions of
freedom, has asked us to put economic sanctions on this regime because it now
has shown its true colors. It does not, the Burmese regime, the SLORC regime,
does not want reform. It instead is seeking further repression and will grasp
on to power until the last desperate time, what they have, is gone, until
they are forced from power by pressure from the outside or by perhaps
revolution from their own people. Unfortunately the SLORC regime is being
bolstered by a military that is being supplied by Communist China. Communist
China has sold Burma the weapons it needs to maintain a dictatorship.
In fact, Burma , is becoming a client state of China. The Red Chinese regime
is doing all it can to keep its buddies, its gangster buddies, in power in
Congress will soon take up the issue, interestingly enough, of
most-favored-nation status to China. This is an important piece of
legislation. But let us make sure that, as we move forward when we are
talking about Burma, that we can make a stand in Burma , and I, as I say, I
have introduced H.R. 2892, and I ask my fellow colleagues to join me in
basically outlawing any further American investment through supporting H.R.
2892 and opposing any further American investment in Burma .
Now, we will make another choice very soon, too, which it comes to
most-favored-nation status with China. When it comes to this decision, yes,
there are a lot of other factors at play. There are many. China, Communist
China, is a strategic country. There are a billion people in China. China has
technologies. China has a huge army that can affect the United States. And
also economically we are already in an economic relationship that in some
way binds us to that country.
But just today it was disclosed that Chinese officials themselves have been
involved with smuggling fully automatic AK-47 rifles into the United States.
These are people that have contacts in the Chinese army. These are
not Chinese entrepreneurs, people doing this outside of their own government.
These are government officials themselves.
The Red Chinese regime is a rogue regime. It is oppressing its own people
just like in Burma and every other dictatorship, but the regime also sells
nuclear weapons technology to developing countries and arms dictatorships
like Burma . It has a Nazi-like policy in dealing with orphans, in dealing
with the disabled and dealing with the unborn.
It is conducting an economic war against the United States. I mean the bottom
line is American companies find it difficult to sell in China unless the
Chinese regime permits them to sell their goods there, yet they take full
advantage of our market in the United States. So they limit access to their
market, and they end up stealing our intellectual property, as is becoming
known now. These people are involved with grand theft of our intellectual
property rights, our CD's, our entertainment items that are worth billions of
dollars to the economy of southern California; they are being ripped off by
companies that are owned by the People's Liberation Army, by government
officials in China.
They have, in fact, a $35 billion trade surplus with us that does not even
count the rip-offs, and with this $35 billion in surplus, they buy weapons in
order to upgrade their military, to threaten their neighbors, and bully their
neighbors and to become a, quote, power in the world. Well, we have seen what
that power means. What it means when you have a dictatorship spending money
and upgrading its military, it means that it threatens its neighbors even
In the Philippines they know what a better armed China means. They have
recently had a little confrontation with the Chinese over the Spratley
Islands, and what should have been a negotiated disagreement became almost an
armed confrontation when a belligerent, hostile and a threatening Red China
decided it would have its way, negotiations were not the order of the day.
We also saw the results of this when just a month ago the Red Chinese regime
sent its military into the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to intimidate the
democratic government, the Republican of China, Taiwan, trying to intimidate
them into not having a free election. What we saw were missiles being fired
at a democratic people, people who were simply trying to have an election, in
order to intimidate them and frighten them from their democratic rights.
Well, what more, what more I ask you, does a country have to do before the
United States says that they will not enjoy the trading status of
most-favored-nation status with the United States? What more can a regime do?
Do they have to open up gas ovens and begin murdering people exactly like the
Nazis did during World War II?
This is a regime, a monster regime, on the mainland of China, and this
administration, the Clinton administration, has decoupled any consideration
of human rights to the consideration of most-favored-nation status for that
regime. It is a disgrace. Let us remember that President Clinton 4 years ago
was attacking then sitting President Bush for granting most-favored-nation
status to the mainland Chinese regime, and as soon as President Clinton
became President, not only did he grant most-favored-nation status, but he
has decoupled the consideration of most-favored-nation status from any
discussion about human rights. It is the ultimate hypocrisy and has been
one of the biggest and worst setbacks for the human rights community in the
U.S. history, when the President, when President Clinton, not only reneged
but did an absolutely turnabout in his belief in supporting human rights on
Well, who is it up to, then? It is up to us, the American people, to stand
for our beliefs in freedom and democracy and to stand up, yes, for the
interests of the United States, and what is happening with the
most-favored-nation status debate here in Congress is that we find that those
companies that are making a profit from their investment in China, a huge
profit from their investment in China, have turned around and become
lobbyists to us for this dictatorial regime. What we have found is not that
what the theory was was that if we permit our people to invest in China they
will become emissaries of democracy to that country, but they have instead
become lobbyists for a dictatorship to the United States.
Well, we are the ones who have to make the decision, not just based on what a
very small group of companies are doing, making a profit by dealing with
these terribly dictatorial regimes whose hands are dripping with blood.
The fact is that when it comes to Burma , we have a right also to tell our
people this is not the right thing to do, for your to do, to invest in that
dictatorship. We also have a right and obligation to our own people to say we
will not permit Chinese goods that are produced in slave labor camps and
produced by the army, buy companies that are owned by the army, and produced
by a regime that is trying to bolster its weapon systems to threaten its
neighbors, we will not permit that country to come into our marketplace and
with the same status of other free and democratic countries.
I would hope that the American people insist that their representatives in
the United States vote against most-favored-nation status for China.
There is one other issue that will be coming forth very quickly and that we
will find in front of this body within the next 2 weeks. It is an issue that
relates to most-favored-nation status and relates to these dictatorships
around the world because it is changing our patent system in a way that will
permit those thieves, those dictatorships around the world, to steal American
Now, most of you probably have not heard anything about the proposed changes
in our patent law. Most Americans would not even understand the proposed
changes in our patent law. But there is an insidious attempt being made to
make fundamental changes in the situation of our patent system, in the makeup
of our patent system, so that it will be easier for foreign corporations to
steal America's greatest asset, and that is the genius of our people. What
will be coming forth before this body is a bill, H.R. 3460, which I call the
Steal American Technologies Act. This act, believe it or not, will insist
that from now on, if an American inventor applies for a patent in this
country, after 18 months, whether or not that patent has been issued, that
American inventor's application with all the details of the technology that
he has developed will be published for the world to see. This is an
invitation to the thieves of the world to steal our most precious asset, and
that is the innovative and creative ideas of our inventors and our technology
that we will use in the future to keep America competitive.
This is absolutely the greatest threat that I see to America's future
prosperity, yet so few people will understand what the vote is all about. But
it does not take a genius, however, to understand that if we disclose the
information of our inventors, even before their patents have been issued,
that there will be a line at the Patent Office to get that information and to
fax it immediately to the Chinese mainland, where they will set up
manufacturing units based on those ideas and that technology even before our
inventors are issued their own patent.
Ironically, when H.R. 3460, the `Steal American Technologies Act,' was going
through the subcommittee, and it has passed the subcommittee in this body and
is heading for the floor, on the day that it was passed in the subcommittee I
had a representative of an American company that represents many patents. It
happens to be a solar energy company. He was there in my office, and we were
discussing the patent law.
I asked him what would happen if his patent applications had been published
before he actually was issued the patent. His face turned white, and his
fists came together, and he said, Congressman, if my patent applications are
published before my patent is issued my foreign competitors will be actually
manufacturing the things that I have invented before I can even go into
manufacturing them. And do you know what they will do if I try to sue them
later? They will use the profits from my own technology to fight me in court
and wipe me out.
Mr. Speaker, this is a great threat to American prosperity. Every American
should contact their Member of Congress, their Senator, to defeat H.R. 3460,
the steal American technologies act. But this is only one, just one swing at
the American patent system. The American patent system has been under attack,
but because it is so hard to understand, the American people cannot see what
is going on.
Another part of this very same bill would corporatize the Patent Office of
the United States. People will say, Dana Rohrabacher is a conservative
Republican. Does he not believe in privatization? I certainly do not believe
we should take our court system and the court functions of government and
privatize them. No, there are certain things government has to do. Those
things deal with protecting our rights, protecting our freedom, especially
defining the property rights we have in a free society.
Part of this legislation would take the Patent Office and corporatize it and
turn it into something like the Post Office. That may sound benign but, in
effect, that would take patent examiners who today are making decisions,
responsible decisions for what are the property rights dealing with new
technology in our society, as to who owns those ideas and those new property
rights that are being created, and those patent examiners by that process
will be stripped of their civil service protection.
They will be then put in jeopardy of many outside forces, and even inside
forces that might want to influence their decision, forces that have been
thwarted up until now because patent examiners know their job is to make
the right decision, and they are protected from people making assaults on
them or trying to influence them from the outside.
Can anyone believe that stripping our patent examiners, the people who will
define what is American technology in the future and who owns it, stripping
them of their civil service protection, is not going to open the doorway to
corruption, open the doorway to foreigners coming here trying to steal our
technology, and cut off our people from the rights to control their own
inventions? Does anyone believe that that will not happen?
No one who looks at the issue believes that, but the fact is most of the
Members of Congress will never have any way of seeing the details. They will
be told some local company has decided that H.R. 3460, which I call the steal
American technologies act, is a good thing because many American companies,
what has happened, these big corporations, many of them who are now owned by
multinational corporations and outside people, have big shares in those
companies; but these big American corporations have decided that they are
going to buy into global protection of America's intellectual property.
What it is, basically they have decided that for a promise from other
countries like Red China, like Japan, and like many other developing
countries, a promise from those countries, oh, yes, we will protect our
intellectual property rights if you will only conform your system to be like
our system. The changes that are brought about by H.R. 3460 are basically
aimed at what they call harmonizing our law with that of Japan. We will blink
our eyes and in a very short time period, we will see the patent law in the
United States totally changed so that it mirrors that which Japan has had
over these last few decades.
Mr. Speaker, it is very hard for people to understand what the significance
of this is. Why is the gentleman from California, Dana Rohrabacher, down here
on the floor talking about patent law, these little changes? So what if it
is going to harmonize with Japan?
Do we really want to walk around like ants, like the people of Japan? Do we
want to be suppressed by the business interests, by the big boys that run
roughshod over the people in Japan? How many new innovations and how much
creativity has come out of Japan in these last 20 years? The people of Japan
allow themselves, because they have a different culture, allow themselves to
be dominated by big interest groups who control their society.
That is not what America is all about. America is about the rights of the
individual, the rights of the little guy, the rights of every person to have
the same control over his destiny as those people who are more affluent, the
rights of every person to direct the course of his Government. Other
countries are not this way.
But what we have here coming before this body is a stark choice: H.R. 3460,
the steal American technologies act, versus a bill that I have put forward
and tried to get to the floor of this body for 1 1/2 years, H.R. 359. H.R.
359 would protect American inventors, and it would restore to American
inventors the guaranteed patent right that they have to protect their
invention or their idea for a guaranteed patent term of 17 years after they
have been issued a patent.
Most Americans do not understand, and I am sad to report to those people who
are listening tonight that the guaranteed patent term that Americans enjoyed
for over 130 years has already been taken away from them, and most Americans
do not even know it.
What happened is a year and a half ago, in the GATT implementation
legislation, an item was snuck into this legislation that had nothing to do
with the GATT agreement. It was not required by GATT but it was snuck in
there, so that we as a body would have to vote against the entire world
trading system, or we would have to vote for the world trading system. We
would have to vote against the world trading system in order to get at that
Most Members, of course, were not willing to cut us off from all of the trade
regulations of the GATT negotiations. But it was an insult to this body that
they had put this provision in in the first place. What did this small
provision do, this one little item that they snuck in there? There was an
innocuous change in the patent law. It said that the patents now in the
United States will now be measured from 20 years from the time the inventor
files for the patent. So, 20 years later he will no longer have any patent
It almost sounds like, hey, we are actually expanding the amount of time that
a patent applicant has for the protection of his patent. But in reality what
has happened, what we used to have is that if someone applies for a patent
and it took 5 or 10 years for his patent application to be processed, he or
she would have 17 years guaranteed patent protection time in order to make
that investment back, in order to profit from that technology. But if we
started at 20 years and it is over, if we started when the man applied for
the patent and it is over in 20 years, if it takes 10 or 15 years for the
patent to issue, that patent is almost worthless by the time it is issued.
The fact is that three-quarters of the time has already been used up. In
other words, the clock is ticking against the individual, rather than ticking
against the bureaucracy.
That was a dramatic change, to let us harmonize our system with Japan. Mr.
Speaker, it seems innocuous, but in the end, it dramatically affects the
production of technology in our society, and it also, interestingly enough,
affects who receives the benefits of that technology, because if a foreign
corporation then only has to pay 5 years' worth of royalties, rather than 17
years, where is that money going?
That money that used to be going into the pockets of American inventors,
because they had a guaranteed 17 years of patent protection, ends up staying
right in the coffers of some big corporation in China or Japan or Korea, or
even here in the United States. The little guy ends up losing dramatically.
The big guys end up being able to steal legally. They have changed the rules
of the game.
My bill, H.R. 359, which will serve as a substitute for H.R. 3460, will
return the patent rights that the American people lost by the GATT
implementation legislation. So we will face a battle in the upcoming weeks
between H.R. 3460, which is, as I say, I call it the steal American
technologies act, versus my bill, H.R. 359.
I believe this issue deserves to be debated, because it has an impact not
only on the people of the United States, but elsewhere. We should not permit
countries like Red China to steal American technology and legally do so
because we are disclosing our very utmost secrets to them by passing such
foolish legislation. When it comes to most-favored-nation status, when there
is a dictatorship like Red China or Burma , we should not treat them as any
other free Nation.
Mr. Speaker, I do believe in free trade. I believe that commerce between free
people is to the benefit of all free people. But let us as a country stand
not for trade with dictators, but instead, let us stand for free trade
between free people.
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