The Clinton administration is embarking on a series of high-level visits to China over the next few months - with the potential ultimate prize of a presidential visit to Beijing. With the hurdle of the annual Most Favoured Nation trading status dispute behind them, officials are now seeking to take the United States' relationship with the world's fastest growing economy onto a new level of co-operation. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown kicks off the programme when he takes more than 20 top chief executives from American industry to China for 10 days from August 25. William Perry will then be the first Defence Secretary to visit China since 1987 when he travels to Beijing in October to chair the first sitting of a new joint commission designed to convert old military technologies into peaceful use. It is understood plans are being made for a senior State Department official - possibly Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott - to visit China in the autumn to discuss a wide range of security, commercial and human rights topics. Depending on the response of the Chinese to various American concerns over the course of these visits, the administration will then decide whether the time is right for President Bill Clinton to visit China. The visit could be possibly as early as November, tied in with a trip to Indonesia for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation grouping's leaders' summit. Mr Brown's visit, during which a number of contract-signing ceremonies are due to be held, cementing several US-Sino joint ventures, is the first-cabinet-level visit since the President's May MFN decision. A Commerce Department spokesman declined to name those companies accompanying Mr Brown, except to say that they come from the transport, infrastructure, telecommunications and financial sectors. But representatives believed to be joining Mr Brown include those from IBM, McDonnell Douglas, ARCO, Bell Atlantic and possibly General Electric. The delegation will visit Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Mr Brown's counterpart, Minister Wu Yi, will be hosting the visitors, but higher-level officials, possibly at vice-premier level, may also meet the delegation. The planned visit has already come under fire from human rights groups, who have been urging Mr Brown to raise such issues on the visit. Mr Brown has responded by agreeing to meet Sidney Jones, executive director of Human Rights Watch Asia, on Monday. Among the topics Ms Jones is pressing Mr Brown to raise is the fate of Gao Feng, a worker at the Chrysler-owned Beijing Jeep plant, who was detained for expressing religious views and threatened with losing his job. However, a source close to the visit said it was not likely human rights concerns would be near the top of the agenda during the trip. Apart from doing business, one of Mr Brown's major concerns is to decide when the US can drop two of the remaining post-1989 sanctions against Beijing - the current ban on aid from two agencies to American firms doing business in China.