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CHINA DECLARES VICTORY IN DISPUTE OVER PRISON GOODS

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China Wednesday claimed victory in a long-running dispute with the United States over allegations that it exported goods made by prisoners.

The People's Daily on its front page quoted from the December 13 issue of a U.S. government publication, the Federal Register, saying that the Number One Qinghe Prison in Beijing had not exported its hosiery to the United States.The Chinese official newspaper said the report put an end to what it called charges fabricated by U.S. Representative Frank Wolf in 1991 that the prison was exporting goods made in prison to the United States in defiance of U.S. laws forbidding the practice.

The Federal Register of Dec. 13 said the U.S. commissioner of Customs had found in an investigation that merchandise made in the prison "is no longer being or is likely to be imported into the U.S.," according to a copy provided by the U.S. Embassy.

It did not say whether the prison socks had been exported to the United States in the past.

Wolf, a Virginia Republican who is a critic of China's human rights record, said in Washington Tuesday that lack of cooperation by Beijing officials forced him to cancel a visit due to start that day.

The People's Daily said that after a visit to the prison in March 1991, Wolf had been given five pairs of socks made there as a souvenir, which he later produced at U.S. Senate hearings as evidence that China had exported them to the United States.

It said that in defiance of the facts, Wolf continued to charge that China exported prison goods.

U.S. officials in Beijing said at least one other investigation of the alleged export of prison goods was going on.