OFFICIALS are desperately trying to save US President Bill Clinton's 'code of conduct' for Chinese business dealings in the face of huge corporate opposition to the scheme. Seven months after Mr Clinton pledged to introduce the code as part of his announcement renewing Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for Beijing, the plan is 'dead in the water', according to sources. Even though the State Department made some major concessions - including making the plan no longer China-specific - US business leaders are still rejecting the initiative, dubbed the 'voluntary set of principles' as unworkable. The department is about to embark on another drive to rescue the plan, holding internal meetings as well as talks with the corporate world, an official said yesterday. Although the code was given tacit support by business when Mr Clinton announced it in May, it collapsed after officials discussed a blueprint with a group of company chiefs - including bosses of Kodak, Chrysler and transportation firm TRW - who refused to support it. Administration officials are privately furious that after showing good faith by de-linking MFN from human rights, the business community has returned the favour by embarrassing them over the voluntary principles scheme. Such is the plan's sensitive nature that the US-China Business Council, which often acts as a bridge between China-linked companies and the US Government, is avoiding getting embroiled. Under the scheme, signatories would agree to protect worker rights, such as guaranteeing fair wages and the freedom to form unions and assemble at the place of work. Quite how the administration will rework it to please business is unclear, although according to a source in the China business field, it may just force the scheme through. US-China Business Council president Robert Knapp said he did not wish to comment publicly on the issue. But he added: 'It is no secret that the business community thought there were certain things they had trouble with.' A State Department official said the scheme was still 'alive', adding: 'Nothing was ever cast in stone or rejected out of hand.'