China scorns Clinton trade threat

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The Independent Online
PEKING - China yesterday demonstrated once again its growing confidence that President Bill Clinton will not cancel the country's preferential trading status despite continuing human rights abuses, writes Teresa Poole.

Public security officials raided the home of Wang Dan, a prominent student leader during the June 1989 Tiananmen Square pro- democracy movement, as he was giving an interview to the US television network NBC. Mr Wang and the television crew were taken away and detained briefly.

The interview was being conducted ahead of the deadline on 3 June for President Clinton to decide on extending China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trading status. MFN renewal is linked to significant human rights improvements. Without the Chinese government's over-zealous intervention, the NBC interview would have attracted little attention. Indeed, Mr Wang had just told the interviewer that he supported the unconditional renewal of MFN. But with the fifth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square shootings, the authorities are cracking down on any sign of dissent or any independent voices.

Last Thursday, China's rubber- stamp parliament adopted a set of draconian laws that allow the authorities to impose even greater control on religious and ethnic groups or those 'doing harm to the public interest'. Among the provisions is one apparently aimed at those political prisoners who have been released on parole.

China's leaders are publicly stressing that stability is their priority, whatever the cost in Western opinion. In a speech on the front page of all big Chinese newspapers yesterday Li Peng, the Prime Minister, said: 'China will not export its own ideology nor its concept of values, neither will it allow any country to impose its ideology or concept of values.'

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