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