China Makes Concessions in US Talks in a Bid to Maintain Its Trade Status US Official Cites Progress in Emigration, Prison Visits, Opening China to Foreign Broadcasting

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A SENIOR United States diplomat signaled forward momentum yesterday in resolving the American standoff with China over trade and human rights.

But, wrapping up three days of talks in Beijing, John Shattuck, assistant secretary of state for human rights, cautioned that China still has to satisfy US concerns before its low-tariff access to the American market will be renewed in June.

Citing a "more positive atmosphere," Mr. Shattuck noted that negotiations with the Chinese "have deepened and become more business-like and intense.

"There has been some progress, and more progress is needed," he said at a press conference. "I think we have made crystal clear that the key is overall and steady progress on human rights."

The US official's visit was aimed at prodding China into improving its human rights record enough to win extension of most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status from President Clinton. He precedes Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who starts a visit March 11 and could sharpen the outlines of the compromise with China on human rights, some Western diplomats suggest.

Following campaign pledges to make tougher human rights demands on China, Mr. Clinton in June 1993 extended MFN for another year on the condition that Beijing significantly reduce human rights abuses. The US is urging China to end exports produced by prison labor, allow more freedom of emigration from China, release or account for more than 200 political prisoners, allow free radio and television broadcasting into China, and end oppression in Tibet.

Shattuck, who met with Deputy Foreign Minister Qin Huasun and other officials, said the US is having a "continuous and very strong, effective dialogue with the Chinese" on accounting for 235 political prisoners included in a list compiled by the State Department last fall. At a recent meeting in Paris, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen assured Mr. Christopher that China would provide detailed information on the prisoners.

The US emissary also said he held "very constructive and positive discussions with the Chinese government" on winning medical parole for some prominent dissidents, including Chen Zeming and Wang Juntao, leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.

Shattuck reported progress in winning international access to monitor Chinese prisons, loosening emigration restrictions, securing release of some prisoners, and formalizing legal procedures. …