WASHINGTON — As the June 3 deadline for President Clinton’s decision on China’s trade status draws near, Congressional trade leaders favoring renewal of China’s most-favored-nation benefits urged the President Tuesday to avoid trying to levy partial sanctions.
In a letter to the White House, Sens. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and John Danforth (R., Mo.) and Reps. Robert Matsui (D., Calif.) and Jim Kolbe (R., Ariz.) said they saw “very serious substantive problems” with the idea that sanctions be levied on products made by government factories.
“Revoking MFN for goods produced by state enterprises does not seem even theoretically possible,” the letter said. “China has no sharp distinction between public and private sectors. It would be very difficult to decide whether any of these are state-owned or private.”
The four said they wrote the letter because they were concerned the administration was “discussing a radical change in policy on most-favored-nation status for China.” It has been reported the administration is considering partial sanctions because China has not met all of the conditions outlined by Clinton last year in an executive order requiring improvements in China’s human rights policies for MFN renewal.
If the administration persists in seeking partial sanctions against state-manufactured goods, the letter said that it should be submitted as legislation. Baucus has predicted such an idea would fail in the Senate.
In another development, Sen. Bill Bradley (D., N.J.) predicted an administration decision could come as soon as Thursday.