Searching For an Issue, Lott Tries China

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WASHINGTON: Worried by President Clinton's boost in the polls following his China trip, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has repeated calls for an independent counsel into allegations that Beijing sought to influence U.S. elections. "Senator Lott is mashing together several unrelated charges in search of an issue for the November election," says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan. "He's going to throw everything up against the wall to see what sticks."

Lott announced Tuesday that Senate investigations have found that the transfer of satellite technology to China aided that country's military. But the GOP may be reaching by trying to link the supply of technology designed to improve the safety of Chinese rockets to alleged interference by Beijing in U.S. politics. As Branegan notes, "If it's in America's commercial interests to launch American satellites on Chinese rockets -- as the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations all believed -- then it's clearly in America's interests to protect its $200 million satellites by making sure those rockets don't blow up."