WASHINGTON -- Because China has made more progress on human rights recently, it has moved closer to winning a recommendation from the administration that its Most-Favored-Nation trade status be continued.

That was the assessment from Winston Lord, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, in testimony last week before the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian subcommittee.

While more progress is sought, Lord said, "The general public perception has obscured progress made in other areas. I don't want to be accused of inflating today, but there is progress in recent weeks. It is better not to have a daily scorecard on progress."

President Clinton has until June 3 to recommend to Congress whether China should be granted an extension of its MFN. Lord cited several steps the Chinese must still take to warrant MFN extension. Those included clarification of several pending emigration cases, establishment of a date to meet with Tibetan officials, release of more political prisoners and an end to jamming Voice of America radio broadcasts. All these, he said, were possible before the end of May.

"It's important to note that the executive order signed by President Clinton last year did not ask for a transformation of Chinese society," Lord said.

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