Clinton Hangs Tough On China

Stay the course. That's what Clinton Administration officials have decided to do with their muddled China policy. On Mar. 22, senior advisers decided to hold China to achieving "overall, significant progress" in seven areas outlined in an executive order signed last spring. If the State Dept. finds China in noncompliance, the U.S. Congress could revoke most-favored-nation trading status come June 3. Such a meltdown in U.S.-China relations remains a long shot, though. Administration officials are betting. China will soften its tone and concede enough for both sides to save face. But the hang-tough strategy is fraught with peril: Revoking China's MFN would put 171,000 U.S. jobs in jeopardy, and business hates tying trade to human rights progress.

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