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Sunday, April 11, 1999 Published at 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK

World: Americas

Chinese PM rebuffs US trade pressure

Mr Zhu wants China to join the World Trade Organisation

The Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji has warned the United States not to press China to make further concessions in its bid to join the World Trade Organisation.

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  • Speaking on his last day in Washington, Mr Zhu said he believed an agreement was eventually possible, despite the failure to sign one on this trip.

    On Thursday Mr Clinton said that despite the concessions, agreement on China's 13-year bid to join the World Trade Organisation was "still not quite there yet".

    However, Mr Zhu stressed that the United States wanted too much too soon.

    "If you want too much too soon, in the end you may wind up with nothing."

    He also hit out at the US for making public the details of proposed Chinese trade concessions before an overall agreement had been reached.

    Human rights criticism

    Democrat Nancy Pelosi is a critic of Clinton's China policy
    Correspondents say President Clinton has been forced to step up his demands because of domestic pressure from Congress, where concern over alleged Chinese nuclear espionage and dissatisfaction with China's human rights record have fuelled suspicion of Beijing.

    Mr Zhu said the Americans should see China as their biggest market and not their biggest threat.

    [ image: Relations between the US and China remain strained]
    Relations between the US and China remain strained
    Despite no overall trade agreement, one of the highlights of the Chinese prime minister's visit was the signing of an agreement lifting a ban on US citrus products, wheat and beef and cutting hefty tariffs on other agricultural products.

    The products had been banned by China under stringent health regulations.

    The new deal will give US farmers greater access to China's 1.2bn consumers.

    China also offered to lower tariff barriers for American financial service firms, telecommunication companies and a wide array of other US industries.

    Trade pact signed

    US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky hailed the accord as "a new era" in US-China relations and a major step towards China's goal of joining the WTO.

    She said: "This agreement removes unfair trade barriers to US wheat, meat, citrus and poultry and signifies a new era in our bilateral agricultural relationship, one that is based on sound science and the mutual benefits of open markets."

    President Clinton and Mr Zhu said their respective trade ministers would continue to negotiate on the remaining issues.

    But a joint statement issued by the White House on Saturday stressed: "The United States strongly supports the accession of the People's Republic of China to the WTO in 1999."

    Premier Zhu has now flown to Denver where he is holding a series of meetings with business leaders.

    He is due to leave on Sunday morning for Chicago and will then go on to New York and Boston as part of his nine-day, six-city US tour.

    He is the first Chinese premier to visit the United States in 15 years.

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