Pelosi to press for MFN conditions, AmCham team told

DEMOCRATIC Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has told members of Hongkong's American Chamber of Commerce that she will continue to press for legislation to slap conditions on trade with China, but is prepared to consider alternatives proposed by President Bill Clinton.

Ms Pelosi made clear to the visiting AmCham business leaders that she remained convinced that imposing human rights conditions on China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trade benefits was the best form of leverage against Beijing.

She has also written to United States Trade Representative Mickey Kantor urging increased pressure on China when the first Clinton administration trade delegation visits Beijing next week.

Ms Pelosi, who has led the effort to add conditions to China's MFN status, said in her letter that the trade team should widen its agenda to include a clear message to Beijing that Washington wanted to see major progress on thorny issues such as human rights, arms proliferation and fair trade.

Two US trade teams will discuss in Beijing further removal of Chinese trade barriers and China's entry into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

AmCham chairman Lyn Edinger and president Frank Martin, as well as Ms Pelosi, met other lawmakers and administration officials to pave the way for a high-level AmCham lobby mission, which will visit Washington in the spring to press for renewal of China's MFN status.

Mr Edinger said senior US trade officials had stressed that it was important for China to send a positive signal during next week's trade talks by agreeing to ease quota restrictions.

Under the Sino-US market access agreement signed last October, China agreed to relax quota restrictions before eliminating them, but US officials said discussions on the matter had so far been bumpy.

Both Mr Edinger and Mr Martin said the lawmakers they spoke to all expressed a desire to see a more informed and bipartisan debate on China's MFN status.

''Everybody we talked to would like to see this MFN problem decisively resolved this year,'' Mr Edinger said.