NEW YORK — Chinese officials organizing a trade show to be held here this week said Friday that U.S. consular officials in China denied visas to half the 420 executives who applied to exhibit at their event.

As a result, only 160 manufacturers will be exhibiting at the Year 2004 China Textile and Apparel Trade Show, which runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Show organizers and Chinese government officials said representatives of 250 companies had applied for visas.

“Because they could not get the visas, they could not come here to conduct regular commercial activities. This is certainly a regret,” said Zhang Yan Kai, executive vice chairman of China’s Sub-Council of Textile Industry and the Textile Industry Chamber of Commerce, a promotions organization closely linked to the Chinese government. “The visa officers never told them why their visas were denied.”

Speaking at a Friday afternoon press conference, Zhangling Yuan, an economic and commercial consul at China’s consulate general in New York, said he was particularly troubled that increasing numbers of Chinese executives seeking to attend trade shows had been turned away by U.S. consular authorities in China. Zhang and Zhangling spoke in Mandarin Chinese through an interpreter.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, U.S. authorities stepped up security practices allowing foreign nationals entry into the country. As the U.S. has made it more difficult to get entry visas, many foreign countries have responded in kind. China, for instance, no longer allows U.S. citizens seeking visas to apply by mail.

Zhang said for the 2001 edition of the show —?before the attacks — more than 80 percent of potential exhibitors who applied for visas were granted them. By 2002, that number slipped to 70 percent and, in 2003, it dropped to 60 percent.

Federal agencies were closed Friday to observe a day of mourning for former President Ronald Reagan. Calls to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, which handles such visas, were not returned.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Web site, visa applications can be denied for a variety of reasons, including health, past criminal activity, association with terrorist groups or membership in a Communist political party. China is run by a Communist government.Zhang said the security concerns about Chinese apparel and textile executives were misplaced. Of the 1,000 Chinese executives who have attended past editions of the event, he said, “None of them stayed in the U.S. All of them went home.”

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