In the wake of Secretary of State James A. Baker III's disappointing Beijing visit, the Bush Administration and U. S. Customs Service are at odds over their approaches to China. Customs wants to hold the Chinese accountable for trade violations, including using prison labor and violating textile quotas. But the Administration, trying to keep trade doors open, is discouraging disclosure of damaging information on China. It is dragging its feet on authorizing Customs to hire new investigators in Hong Kong, while the State Dept. is slow to hand over information on problem Chinese factories. "Cracking down on China isn't what you'd call a career-friendly move," says one customs officer.
Ignoring the White House, Customs is pressing ahead with investigations of imported Chinese garments bearing false country-of-origin labels. Customs sources predict a surge in raids on Chinese-controlled companies in the U. S. thought to be violating quotas.