WASHINGTON — The Senate unanimously called on President Bush on Tuesday night to take additional action against China to demonstrate Washington's opposition to government attacks on Chinese citizens in Beijing.
The Senate resolution, which passed by a rare 100-0 vote, appeared to defuse an effort by conservative Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to mount congressional support for legislation that would have cut off all trade with China.
Co-sponsored by Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) and Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), the resolution calls on the Administration to:
-- Extend the visas of Chinese students in the United States.
-- Review China's pending applications for export licenses and loans from the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Export-Import Bank.
-- Coordinate additional steps with U.S. allies.
-- Increase daily Voice of America broadcasts beamed at China.
Expressing Our Views
Mitchell noted that the United States cannot dictate to the Chinese government what it should do. But he added, "It is within our power to express the views of the American people clearly, unequivocally, unambiguously."
Although the resolution pressed for measures that the President so far has not taken, it nevertheless praised Bush for his handling of the situation. According to Dole, Bush has told Senate leaders that he supports the steps outlined in the resolution.
Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Me.) explained that the resolution was not intended to criticize the Administration but instead to send a signal to the Beijing government that it can expect additional retaliation by the United States if the violence continues in China.
The House, meanwhile, voted 406 to 0 for a resolution expressing support for Bush "in taking all necessary measures to provide for and ensure the safety of U.S. citizens in China." Unlike the Senate measure, the House resolution proposed no additional steps to be taken by Bush.
At the White House, Marlin Fitzwater, Bush's press secretary, reported Tuesday that U.S. officials are now unable to contact any top-level Chinese leaders in Beijing, although they have talked to some middle-level officials.
"The assumption has been that the top-level people have moved out to other locations," he said. "It's like the place is closed down. . . . There's no indication who the leadership is."
With Beijing facing growing chaos, Secretary of State James A. Baker III urged all American citizens in Beijing to leave China. State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said his advice applies to all Americans in Beijing except for the 111 diplomats and support personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy, which will remain open and continue to function.
Tutwiler said the Chinese government has approved plans to charter jumbo jets from Northwest Orient Airlines, which serves Shanghai, and from United Airlines, which serves Beijing, if necessary. But she added that regularly scheduled airliners seem to be adequate to handle the departure of any Americans who want to leave.
According to sources in China, the embassy has alerted the Pentagon that U.S. military aircraft and ships may be necessary to evacuate Americans from China. However, Tutwiler said there are no plans to use the military at this time.
No Threats on Americans
In addition, according to Tutwiler, there have been no threats against Americans in China. "We have no evidence of violence being directed at Americans or other foreigners," she said. "It's just a prudent action."
Currently, she said, there are 270 American students in Beijing and about 90 more in the rest of the country. There are an estimated 2,500 American businessmen and other private citizens living in Beijing and about 7,400 others in the rest of the country. At any time, she said, there are about 4,000 American tourists in China.
Sources in China said the embassy has been considering plans to evacuate Americans working for Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum's coal mine project deep in the Chinese interior at Antaibo, in Shanxi province. No decisions have been made as yet on that.
Despite a ban on Chinese diplomatic visits announced by Bush on Monday, Tutwiler said the Administration has not withdrawn its invitation to Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen to visit Washington next week.
Visas for Chinese
Tutwiler indicated the Administration has decided to permit all 45,000 Chinese citizens now in the United States to remain until conditions at home become settled, even if their visas expire. This was one of the additional steps recommended by the Senate.
The Senate also recommended that all applications to the Overseas Private Investment Corp. for the protection of investment in China and to the Export-Import Bank for financing of trade with China be reviewed "in light of existing legal requirements for adequate human rights treatment and deteriorating condition of human rights in China."
Times staff writer James Gerstenzang also contributed to this story.