President Jiang Zemin's growing support for accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is behind Beijing's increasing readiness to strike a deal with the United States. Mr Jiang's enhanced enthusiasm for joining the trade body is linked to last-minute lobbying by Premier Zhu Rongji. A party source in Beijing said yesterday Mr Zhu had had repeated talks with Mr Jiang after the latter's return to the capital earlier this month from an extended overseas tour. 'Zhu told Jiang that if China failed to make it to the WTO this year, it would have to make more sacrifices in subsequent attempts to join,' the source said. 'The Premier hinted a leader with wisdom and foresight should seize the opportunity before the end of the year.' Mr Jiang then pointed out in internal talks that Beijing should 'speed up the accession process' if the negative impact on the economy could be contained. The source said Mr Jiang's attitude the past week was more positive than in the summer, when the President reiterated that since Beijing had already tried for 13 years to join, it could afford to wait a few more years. A member of a Beijing think-tank said Mr Jiang was also struck by the apparent willingness by US President Bill Clinton to make concessions in a few areas such as quotas on China's textile exports to America. 'Jiang's advisers have told him his stature both in China and overseas will be boosted if he is seen as having made a decisive, forward-looking decision,' the think-tank member said. He added that only the unequivocal support of Mr Jiang could result in a deal. Political analysts said given Mr Zhu's high-profile association with the WTO bid - and his meeting with US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky on Saturday morning - the Premier, not Mr Jiang, might have to shoulder the blame if the economic benefits of accession failed to pan out. This was despite the fact that the Premier and his allies, such as State Councillor Wu Yi, had, in effect, been relieved of the WTO portfolio since June. The analysts said another factor contributing to Mr Jiang's new-found eagerness for the WTO was reassurances given him by the leaders of Britain, France and Germany that a deal with the European Union on mutually accepted terms would not be difficult. It is understood, however, that Mr Jiang and Mr Zhu will only make the final agreement if they are sure the adverse impact on state enterprises, workers and farmers will not result in political instability.