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Beijing Makes Concessions on Trade, Arms Exports, but Not Human Rights

IN an apparent break in the impasse in Sino-US relations, Secretary of State James Baker III said yesterday that China has satisfied some concerns on trade and arms exports, but not on the pivotal issue of human rights.The concessions by Beijing came as Mr. Baker sought during three days of talks to halt the decline in Sino-United States relations to its lowest level since the two countries restored ties in 1979. Baker's mission was seen as a high-stakes gamble by the Bush administration to justify its policy of maintaining contacts with China after the 1989 massacre of liberal activists in Beijing. With an election year approaching, President Bush has faced bitter criticism from Congress over his policy of "engagement" with Chinese leaders who allegedly disregard human rights, pursue unfair trade practices, and export arms and nuclear technology. Baker returns to Washington with at least some tangible progress to fend off the censure from Capitol Hill. The US has made "clear gains in the field of proliferation and trade ... some gains with respect to the area of human rights, but not as much as we had hoped," Baker said. Beijing said it would honor export controls for medium-range missiles if the US eases restrictions on some sophisticated, military-related technologies, Baker said before his departure from China. He said Washington is examining the offer. China also took steps toward meeting US concerns over the protection for "intellectual property," Baker said. Washington has made copyright and patent protections a leading demand in a contentious trade wrangle with Beijing. China will send trade officials to Washington on Nov. 21-22 to resolve the copyright dispute. But there was no sign Beijing gave assurances that it would improve its human rights record. "I told my Chinese counterparts that my country will not turn a blind eye to the plight of human suffering or political repression, and I said that freedom was something I thought people everywhere would continue to aspire to," Baker said. "I made clear that progress in human rights is essential to progress in the overall relationship." In a positive gesture for human rights, Beijing outlined the fate of 800 dissidents on a list submitted by Washington last June, Baker said. Beijing indicated which of the dissidents were convicted of a crime, released from police custody, still under investigation, or unidentifiable. China also agreed in principle to sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in the prompt investigation of exports in goods made by prison laborers, Baker said. China claims that it has halted such trade.

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