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AMERICANS' HARD LINE ON CHINA

AMERICANS ARE SOLIDLY against U.S. renewal of China's most-favored-nation trading status, according to a poll. The survey, done for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates, finds that 67% oppose giving China MFN standing--under which its products can enter the U.S. with the low tariffs granted most of America's other trading partners.

The Administration, with business support, is pushing Congress to continue China's MFN status, arguing that revoking that would make Washington lose whatever leverage it has over Beijing's policies. But opponents, many of them Republicans, believe that giving China MFN privileges would reward it for bad behavior. Clintonites concede they're unhappy about China's barriers to imports and its human-rights record.

One compromise would be to tie China's trading status to its meeting one or more conditions. Asked what would be the most important condition, those polled favored forcing China to open its markets (31%), improve human rights (27%), and limit weapons proliferation (11%). Just 20% thought there should be no conditions imposed on China.

EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT



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