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New report triggers attack on China policy

A U.S. report blasting China's bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations last June reignited congressional opposition Wednesday to President Bush's China policy. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, called the criticism of China in the State Department's annual report to Congress a "devastating indictment of the policies of the Bush administration toward China."

Mitchell said the report's accounts of China's bloody suppression of the protests last June, execution of at least 20 protest leaders and widespread reports of torture "shock the conscience of Americans.

"Unfortunately, it has not shocked the conscience of the executive branch of the American government," Mitchell said.

Instead, he said, Bush sent his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, on the first of two secret missions to China only two weeks after the killings near Tiananmen Square.

He said Bush has lifted several economic sanctions against China, including one that allowed the sale of several airliners to Beijing.

Several House members accused the administration of what Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., called "a schizophrenic approach on the part of this administration to China," saying top officials ignore the abuses spelled out in the report.

Bush denied earlier Democratic allegations of kowtowing to China and said the high level contacts helped seek democratic reforms in China.

Mitchell was a leader of Congress' narrowly failed effort last month to override Bush's veto of a bill allowing Chinese students fearing persecution at home to remain in the United States indefinitely.

Bush said he had already allowed the students to remain in the United States with an executive order.

The State Department's report said "The human rights climate deteriorated dramatically in 1989" in China.

It said several hundred and possibly thousands of people were killed in the crackdown on the pro-democracy protesters in Beijing June 3-4 and that "about a score are known to have been executed."

It said there were widespread reports of more executions and of torture of protesters.

In Geneva Wednesday, a Chinese student dissident leader said human rights violations continued in China.

Wuerkaixi, an organizer of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing, said at the annual six-week session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, "There are still flagrant and systematic violations of human rights in China."

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Shifter, who was in charge of preparing the human rights report, told a House foreign affairs subcommittee during wide-ranging questioning on the report that:

There has been little human rights improvement in Iran. Although treatment of the Bahai minority has improved, he said, "on the whole the country remains severely repressive."

Burma's military government has punished and even killed students who led pro-democracy demonstrations and is headed by what he called a "xenophobic, know-nothing group that maintains itself in power through force."

He assumed U.S. officials had not officially protested to Saudi Arabia its beheading and amputations of convicted criminals, despite criticism of the practice in the report, because "I assume there is a feeling it would not get us anywhere."