In the wake of the Congress vote, the battle for tougher human rights provisions is intensifying. Human rights and labour activists earlier warned side laws attached to the PNTR vote were a mere 'fig leaf' giving political cover to wavering congressmen. Their target is now the Senate which is due to vote in two weeks. The side laws confirm the creation of a joint rights commission involving administration officials and congressmen following fears that the end of the yearly trade vote would remove a key check on China. However, activists say the proposals do not stipulate an annual debate or vote on commission recommendations, effectively leaving the body toothless. They also demand the commission be allowed to base staff in Beijing and Tibet and are urging the Senate to create a human rights code of conduct for US firms moving into China. 'Without these steps to increase the effectiveness of the commission, there's a risk that its impact on US-China policy will be minimal,' said Mike Jendrzejezyk, Washington director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division. 'Under Clinton, human rights have fallen lower on the US agenda. The administration is focused mainly on trade, which it is now promoting as its human rights policy. But trade alone is insufficient to guarantee change. We need a strong bipartisan commission to counter this trend.' Since American firms have claimed they would be 'sowing the seeds of democracy', Mr Jendrzejezyk said a code of conduct would be a way to 'take seriously their commitment to human rights'. Pro-trade lobbyists, meanwhile, fear any fresh Senate provisions could complicate or delay final ratification of normalised trade. If the body passes different legislation, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must then meet to re-align proposals and vote on a second, unified document. 'Any second vote could really throw a spanner in the works on such a contentious issue,' one Asian diplomat said. The Republican leadership has insisted it wants a clean, uncomplicated bill in the Senate.