BEIJING — U.S. Embassy officials today advised American businessmen who fled from Beijing this month to stay out of China until further notice.
"Our advice is to wait," an embassy official said, referring to the hundreds of American businessmen who fled China.
"The U.S. travel advisory is still in effect. . . . It is not compulsory . . . . But it is still too dangerous and unstable to come back," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Some Americans were, however, returning to China and this trend was likely to continue, the official said.
"There are still patrols of troops in the city and there is danger of being caught in the wrong place when they come through," the U.S. official told reporters. "If they fire in a certain direction, one doesn't want to be there."
The Communist authorities, for their part, saturated state-run media with assurances of China's stability and bombarded Western companies with invitations to return to the capital.
A few foreigners have appeared on state television. A representative from Italy's Fiat expressed passive support for the authorities by saying he did not want to interfere in China's internal affairs. Others are shown simply shaking hands with top officials.
'No Business as Usual'
A Western diplomat commented: "There is no 'business as usual.' This is a misrepresentation. Some people do not want to come back and be used in this propaganda effort."
In Washington, the White House today reiterated that President Bush deplores the persecution of Chinese who demonstrated for democracy but has no current plans to impose further sanctions or interruption of relations with China.
"We continue to watch the situation. We'll continue to measure it as we go forward," said White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater. "Sanctions are always a part of that review, but we have nothing to announce."
In Beijing, authorities took Western reporters to Tian An Men Square today and told them that soldiers did not shoot any demonstrators there.
Gen. Li Zhiyun told reporters that troops did fire into the square because they were forced to use violence to clear the area of pro-democracy protesters. Then the general reversed himself and said soldiers did not shoot at protesters.
Li first said troops were forced to use violence to enter the city and clear Tian An Men Square because "people who didn't know the truth" blocked them on the outskirts of Beijing.
". . . There were some thugs; they (were) still provocative to the troops. At this time, some of the soldiers in our troops directed their fire into the square," he said during the first news conference for Western reporters since the crackdown began.
At another point Li said of the deaths: "It is not from any instances from the soldiers directing their guns at the people. This incident never happened within the area of Beijing."
He did not clarify the contradiction.