WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell today exhorted President Bush, as "spokesman for the American people," to more forcefully condemn the executions in China, which rose to 27.
But Secretary of State James A. Baker III called on Congress to mute its criticism of the Administration's reaction, saying the United States must "speak with one voice" about the repression in China.
Mitchell, citing fresh news reports that seven more "rioters" were put to death in Beijing, said in a Senate floor speech that he feels Bush has been more reticent than other world figures to denounce the actions by the Communist government.
Mitchell (D-Me.) spoke out as Baker defended the Administration's response to the violence in China during an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Administration has been struggling to keep relations with the world's most populous nation close to normal.
Baker contended that Bush had taken "carefully targeted actions, while not being inflammatory in his rhetoric and preserving his options for the future."
Mitchell said he understood "the delicate situation in which the President finds himself. And I support the stated desire to maintain, if possible, some relationship with the Chinese government.
"But I ask--I urge--the President to condemn these acts personally and in the strongest possible terms, to give voice to the feelings of the overwhelming majority of the American people."
Baker ran into calls from members of the Foreign Affairs Committee for the Administration to go beyond the mild sanctions imposed against China with stronger measures and more consistent denunciation of arrests and executions.
Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) said he and other lawmakers are planning to propose a package of sanctions against China tougher than Bush's suspension of military and diplomatic visits and U.S. arms transactions.
Two senior members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Reps. William S. Broomfield (R-Mich.) and Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), supported the Administration's approach.
But Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R-N.Y.) urged the secretary of state to keep in mind Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister accused of appeasing Adolf Hitler.
Referring to reports that scores of Chinese face execution, Gilman said, "I think it's important we show a strong response to what China is doing."
13 Others Charged
Seven people were executed in Beijing today for attacking soldiers who crushed the pro-democracy movement, and the government charged 13 others with spying for Taiwan and helping the student protesters.
The seven had been convicted of burning military vehicles when the army marched into Beijing on June 3-4 and drove thousands of demonstrators out of Tian An Men Square.
A poster board outside the Beijing high court was filled with arrest notices, and those involving the condemned said they ranged in age from 18 to 33. There was a large red check, indicating execution, on each of the notices with the word "proclaimed." Soldiers later tore the notices off the board.
So far, 27 people have been put to death: the seven in Beijing, and on Wednesday three in Shanghai and 17 in Jinan.