U.S. reportedly reaching out to China Officials say Clinton wants better ties

September 30, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration is preparing hTC series of new steps aimed at improving its rapidly deteriorating relations with China, including an eventual restoration of long-frozen U.S. contacts with the People's Liberation Army.

As part of its fence-mending campaign, government sources said, the administration is ready to send some senior officials to China, including Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, to revive a bilateral Joint Economic Commission with China that has been suspended since the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989.

In addition, sources close to the policy-making process said, U.S. officials are considering some action by President Clinton to ease, or even waive entirely, the economic sanctions that the administration imposed on Beijing in August. These sanctions bar U.S. businesses from selling certain high-technology equipment to China.

The administration's broad new initiative was launched quietly last Saturday, when National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and Chinese Ambassador to the United States Li Daoyu met unannounced at the White House. Administration officials and a Chinese Embassy spokesman denied that Mr. Clinton himself met with Mr. Li.

The administration's efforts are designed to try to turn around what some officials fear is a steady downward spiral in relations with China and to avoid a further drift toward an overtly hostile relationship.

Lurking behind all the disputes is the growing realization, by both U.S. and Chinese officials, that differences over human rights in particular may make it harder than ever for China to obtain a renewal of most-favored-nation trade benefits when they expire next summer.

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