Clinton Goes to Bat for Beijing

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WASHINGTON: Congressional Republicans may be ready to roast President Clinton over satellite technology transfers to China, but that's unlikely to stop them renewing China's Most Favored Nation trading status.

Clinton announced his renewal of China's status as a normal U.S. trading partner -- an annual ritual since 1980 -- on Wednesday, giving Congress 30 days to vote on the issue. He warned that failure to renew MFN would sever the vital U.S.-China strategic and economic relationship. In the end, says TIME congressional correspondent Jay Carney, Republican leaders will probably concur. "The scandals over technology transfer and campaign fund-raising, as well as pressure from religious conservatives who want pressure on China over religious freedom, may make it more difficult for the Republicans," says Carney, "but in the end the GOP's traditional support for MFN is still likely to prevail." After all, China is the U.S.'s most important trade partner, and that's something Messrs. Lott and Gingrich aren't likely to willingly sacrifice.