DRIVE UNDER WAY IN HOUSE TO EXTEND MFN FOR CHINA

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan effort to secure an extension of China’s most-favored-nation trading status officially began in the House Wednesday.
Backers of maintaining China’s trade benefits met privately to plot strategy on building support for the controversial trade privilege. China’s MFN — which comes up for renewal by the administration yearly — expires June 3; President Clinton is expected to extend it for another year, but Congress can vote to overrule his extension.
Rep. Jim Kolbe (R., Ariz.), an organizer of the extension effort, said he expected this year’s congressional debate to be especially heated because of recent reports that the Clinton administration has received illegal campaign negotiations from Chinese donors.
“It will be tough,” Kolbe said.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R., Ga.) has proposed that China’s trade privileges be extended only for six months to insure that the reversion of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997, goes smoothly. Kolbe declined to comment on that proposal but did express concern that a six-month extension would force Congress to revisit the contentious issue almost immediately after it completes its debate this summer.

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