NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- President Bush plans to extend specia trade preferences to China for another year, saying "it is wrong to isolate China if we hope to influence China."
But at the same time, administration officials said Bush, who made the announcement yesterday, would curb high-technology exports to China in retaliation for Beijing's policy of providing long-range missiles to Pakistan. The move also appeared aimed at softening expected congressional opposition to Bush's trade decision.
Senate Democratic Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, immediately denounced Bush's decision and vowed to lead a fight in Congress to block it.
In his first major address on China since the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators almost two years ago, Bush said he will extend Most Favored Nation -- or MFN -- trading status to China without new restrictions.
This would continue to guarantee the lowest possible tariffs on Chinese goods entering the United States. "If we pursue a policy that cultivates contacts with the Chinese people, promotes commerce to our benefit, we can help create a climate for democratic change," Bush said in a commencement address at Yale University, where he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1948.
A tough battle on the trade preferences -- due to expire July 3 -- is expected on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers concerned over Chinese human rights violations are certain to try to block the MFN extension.
Bush is expected to submit the extension to Congress later this week.
In a bid to soften the opposition, the administration announced new sanctions against the Chinese aimed at curbing nuclear and conventional arms proliferation.
The sanctions include a ban on U.S. sales of high-speed and super computers to China that will prevent some $30 million in pending sales and a ban on sales of U.S. satellite launching equipment that could block some seven proposed satellite launches through 1994, a senior administration official said.
Mitchell, who was leading a Memorial Day parade in Portland, Maine, called the sanctions "a joke" and "a fig leaf."
"What is especially offensive about the president's statement is that he seeks to clothe what is an immoral policy in moral terms," said Mitchell, who has introduced legislation to sharply restrict trade preferences for China until the Chinese demonstrate an improved human rights record.
"The most compelling reason to renew MFN and remain engaged in China is not economic, not strategic, but moral. It is right to export the ideals of freedom and democracy to China. . . It is wrong to isolate China if we hope to influence China." Bush said.