Friday, June 26, 1998 Published at 19:41 GMT 20:41 UK
War of words over dissident arrests
Mr Clinton voiced his concerns at a discussion in Xia He
Mr Clinton said he was disturbed by the allegations, and ordered his ambassador to China, James Sasser, to lodge an official complaint.
But one of Mr Clinton's aides, the National Security adviser, Sandy Berger, immediately rejected the Chinese statement, calling it unsatisfactory and thoroughly unacceptable.
"If China is going to be a nation whose practices are fully acceptable to the international community then this is not a step in that direction," he said.
Mr Berger said that Mr Clinton would raise the issue when he meets the Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, on Saturday.
Correspondents point out that the Chinese denial does not necessarily cover the detention of dissidents - as opposed to their arrest - which follows a different legal procedure.
Visit to the Terracotta Army
Mr Clinton, who has now arrived in Beijing, began his first full day of a nine-day visit to China at Xia He, a village near Xian, observing a local democracy scheme at work.
The Terracotta Warriors are an army of more than 7,000 pottery soldiers and horses, created and buried 2,200 years ago to guard the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. They were unearthed beginning in 1974.
Mr Clinton will stand at the edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing for a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People where he will be offcially welcomed to the capital of the People's Republic of China by President Jiang Zemin.
He and Jiang Zemin are also expected to meet privately before holding a news conference.
Controversy over Tiananmen visit
Bill Clinton is the first US president to visit China since the Chinese army crushed pro-democracy demonstrations centred on the square in June 1989.
The square, which has room for a million people, remains the focus point for discussions on China's record on human rights and freedom of speech
A diverse group of organisations has urged that he should not visit Tiananmen, contending that his presence would dishonour the hundreds of people killed by army tanks and guns.
Despite announcing that he intended to raise human rights issues during the visit, many Americans oppose his trip, saying the ceremony in Tiananmen Square would help to whitewash human rights abuses by Beijing.
A further day of sight-seeing has been scheduled for the Clintons after the Beijing leg of the trip on Sunday.
Then Mr Clinton will travel to Shanghai on Monday for three days of meetings and speeches.
His final stop is Hong Kong, where he will meet the Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa.