Americans are increasingly investing in global corporate entities that imperil human rights and religious freedom abroad.

Case in point: In early April, Petro China, an offshoot of communist China's largest oil company, went public on the New York Stock Exchange. The move immediately drew the condemnation of human rights organizations, which noted that Petro China 's joint oil ventures in the Sudan have helped finance that country's genocidal civil war.

A brief recap: The Islamic Front government in Sudan has, for nearly two decades, waged a holy war against non-Muslims in the south of the country. With terrible resolve, the Islamic extremists have engaged in human rights violations so pervasive as to include mass bombings, terrorist attacks, a slave trade, and the systematic destruction of Christians, blacks, and other perceived threats to the government.

The public offering of Petro China stock on Wall Street, by extension, will raise money in U.S. markets that will indirectly fuel the Islamic Front's genocidal war against non-Muslims in Sudan.

In effect, Sudan is using joint oil ventures with Petro China to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions against their country. The attempt to raise capital in U.S. markets through a middleman represents a dangerous evolution in how rogue nations finance their actions. Critics worry that the Petro China IPO will open U.S. financial markets to countless other global "bad actors." The major implication: Money raised in U.S. markets will be increasingly used to finance human rights violations abroad.

This point was not lost on several organized labor groups, human rights activists, and members of Congress, who urged President Clinton to prohibit the public launch of Petro China in an effort to curb the ethnic and religious cleansing in Sudan. They maintained that the extreme circumstances in Sudan demanded a break from business as usual. For the first time, they wanted U.S. market regulators to eschew their cold financial pragmatism and consider what effects the Petro China IPO might have on human rights and religious freedom in Sudan.

Sadly, their arguments fell by the wayside, as President Clinton's China-friendly policy prevailed. It is the administration's contention that by wooing China, we can influence them to honor human rights, soothe their military aggression, alter their very political system, and convert the Asian Goliath into a kinder, more peaceful world presence. Pursuing economic sanctions against Petro China "would ultimately prove counterproductive," wrote the president in a February letter to Nina Shea, head of Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom.

Consequently, Petro China went public at the beginning of April. Though a vocal human rights campaign scared away several potential investors, the offering still generated 22.5 billion Hong Kong dollars (U.S.$2.89 billion)--a significant portion of which has allegedly been funneled into the Sudanese Islamic Front government.

Still, President Clinton maintains that "engagement" with Beijing is the most effective means of stemming religious and human rights abuses by the Chinese government.

Meanwhile, capital raised in the United States is being used to underwrite genocide in Sudan, and the carnage that continues offers a sad testament to Clinton's failed foreign policy.

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