The US Congress signalled its discontent over trade policy with China yesterday, proposing to force the White House to seek its backing on Beijing's accession to the World Trade Organisation. In a move which is sure to infuriate the administration, the Democrats' leader in the House of Representatives, Richard Gephardt, introduced a bill to require the backing of both Houses of Congress before the US can approve China's entry. The plan would also force the US to withdraw from the trade body if China gained entry without Washington's permission. Although no action on the bill is likely before Congress goes into recess next month, the House Ways and Means Committee is due to hold a hearing on China's admission into the organisation next week, where the matter is almost certain to be debated. With the annual Most Favoured Nation status issue now accepted as an out-of-date trade weapon, Congress members are concerned that Washington does not give up the leverage of the trade organisation question without exacting gains from China. Beijing's overtaking of Japan last month as the nation with the biggest trade surplus with the US has added fuel to the fire on Capitol Hill. Mr Gephardt, a critic of China's trade and human rights record, has been supportive of President Bill Clinton's policies in the run-up to the election, and this new challenge may cause surprise. 'There are some really serious concerns here about just what the administration gave away in order to get the intellectual property agreement with China,' said a senior congressional aide. 'We don't know what they agreed to do with China with regard to the World Trade Organisation. This is a very major issue.'