Sour U.S.-Chinese relations could soon worsen at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for U.S. satellite makers. The State Dept. may be forced by law to impose a ban on satellite sales to China if it confirms evidence that Beijing shipped missile guidance systems to Iran in violation of a 1994 pledge to halt such sales. A chance to avert sanctions comes on Aug. 1, when Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen meets with Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher in Brunei. The U.S. hopes Qian will give assurances that the sale was for a low-tech missile not covered by the pledge.

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