TWO senior American officials have sharply attacked China's human rights record in separate appearances before Congress, one day after Beijing made clear it would reject any trade conditions imposed by the United States. But the administration of President Mr Bill Clinton also came under fire in Congress for reversing a policy to grant asylum to Chinese nationals who flee China's forced abortion population control programmes. In attacking Beijing's behaviour, the top US official in charge of human rights, Mr James Bishop, admitted that under Mr George Bush the United States had failed in its efforts to maintain a meaningful human rights dialogue with China. ''We cannot claim success in terms of substantive improvement,'' replied Mr Bishop, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights. Mr Bishop, a senior human rights official under Mr Bush, is running the human rights bureau until Mr Clinton's nominee is approved by the Senate. During close questioning by congressman Mr Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on human rights, Mr Bishop identified China as one of the worst offenders in the use of prison labour. Mr Bishop told lawmakers that Chinese leaders continued to maintain a totalitarian grip on the country, torture was widespread, and dissidents remained in jail. Mr Lantos made clear that the Clinton administration must take all these factors into account before deciding whether to renew China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trade status this summer. ''The new administration is well aware of the problem,'' Mr Bishop said. During the hearing, Republican congressman Mr Chris Smith pressed Mr Bishop to explain why the Clinton administration had blocked the long-standing Bush administration policy of granting asylum to Chinese nationals who faced persecution for opposing China's strict population control programmes. Mr Bishop said the action was aimed at combatting immigrant smuggling rings, but that it might be reversed. Immigration officials said later that Chinese nationals who could show a well-founded fear of persecution for having opposed the abortion policies were still receiving asylum. In a second congressional hearing, Mr Clinton's nominee for Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Mr Peter Tarnoff, assured senators that Beijing's behaviour would be ''paramount'' in the minds of Clinton officials dealing with China's MFN renewal. Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must approve his nomination as under-secretary of state, Mr Tarnoff said the US had ''very serious concerns'' about China's human rights record, treatment of Tibet, arms sales, and the US$18.2billion (HK$141 billion) trade deficit with China. He said the US trade deficit with China could top US$20 billion this year.