The Bush administration Friday rejected a petition by American unions seeking an investigation into Chinese labor practices, arguing that there was evidence that Chinese practices were improving.
The decision turned down a request filed in June by the AFL-CIO and two members of Congress who said the Chinese were violating international labor standards and these practices had meant the loss of 1.24 million American jobs as companies moved plants to China.
The administration said that engagement with China was resulting in improved labor conditions and that opening an investigation that could lead to economic sanctions was not the best way to proceed.
"We do not need to conduct a yearlong investigation to know that there are serious concerns with labor rights and working conditions in China," said Sean Spicer, Charles Schwab Corp.'s chief spokesman.
The petition was an effort by labor groups in an election year to turn up the heat on the administration over record trade deficits the U.S. is running with China, which hit an all-time high of $202 billion last year. The administration had rejected a similar petition filed in 2004.