President Clinton extended China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trading status this morning, setting in motion another showdown with the US Congress over his Beijing policy. Announcing his move, Mr Clinton said granting China normal trading privileges for one more year was 'clearly in our nation's interest' and essential if an increasingly powerful Beijing was not to be isolated. 'Trade is an important part of our relationship with China . . . supporting over 170,000 jobs,' he said. 'But just as important, trade is a force for change in China, exposing China to our ideas and our ideals and integrating China into the global economy. For these reasons I intend to renew MFN status for China.' Mr Clinton said the US would continue to press China on human rights. 'There have clearly been some concrete results as a result of this engagement as well,' he said. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stood by the President on the MFN issue as she prepared to fly to Geneva to join talks with China and other UN Security Council members on the nuclear crisis in South Asia. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan will represent China in the talks. Ms Albright said a close relationship with Beijing 'allows us to speak honestly when we disagree, but also to co-operate when our interests coincide, as they clearly do in this effort [South Asia] and with respect to MFN. 'It's clear that the better the relations between the United States and China and the United States and Russia, the better we can protect and serve the American people.' Congress now has 90 days to block MFN extension - something a handful of members try to do each year. US officials had hoped that Capitol Hill would move beyond the annual MFN fight this year, but the growing controversy over US satellite technology transfers to Beijing has made it likely a larger number of members of both houses will vote against the trading privileges. The House and Senate committees that deal with MFN are expected to pass the matter on for debate before the President leaves for China later this month - but full votes on the issue are unlikely until he returns. Earlier, US Commerce Secretary William Daley said it was unlikely MFN status would be passed by the House of Representatives - where opposition is strongest - by as big a margin as last year's 259-to-173 vote. Republican Senate leaders meanwhile stepped up pressure on the White House over the transfer of missile technology to China. They requested 'any and all documents' relating to the satellite exports.