Facebook Twitter



The House unanimously approved a package of limited sanctions against China Thursday, pushing aside Bush administration objections in an expression of outrage over the communist government's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

"We must send a clear message to Beijing that the loss of private capital, skills and technology is the price it must pay for the disregard of human life," said Rep. Gus Yatron, D-Pa., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs human rights subcommittee.The sanctions, approved 418-0, were in an amendment to a two-year, $23 billion foreign aid bill.

In addition to endorsing steps already taken by Bush, the list included suspension of trade and development programs, banning the sale of police-related weapons and limiting transfer of high-technology and nuclear materials or components.

Secretary of State James A. Baker III had rejected the package earlier Thursday, declaring that human rights "is not the only principle which determines our foreign policy" and defending Bush's cautious response to the bloody suppression of student-led demonstrations.

"We recognize the desire of elected officials to speak to this issue and to vote on this issue," Baker told reporters. "But we really firmly believe that the leadership in this instance should come from the executive branch."

House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., agreed that Congress and the president should speak with one voice. But he noted there is a strong demand in the House to register anger over the crackdown.

"I think the administration can live with this amendment," Foley said. "It's getting out a little ahead of the president, but it's not inconsistent with the president's general approach."

The House action was largely symbolic. The foreign aid bill is politically unpopular and far from certain to be acted on by the Senate.

Bush previously has condemned the violence in China, halted all military aid and banned exchanges of military officials and high-level visits.

Baker said that, while human rights remained "a major foundation principle" for U.S. policy, "it is not the only principle which determines our foreign policy. It cannot be the sole principle which determines the response of the United States in a situation like this."