President Bush appealed Friday to members of Congress for "patience and forbearance" with his cautious approach in dealing with China's crackdown on dissent, according to legislators who met with him.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Delaware Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the President made the appeal at a White House meeting with leading lawmakers that focused primarily on the Middle East.
"With regard to China, the president asked for our patience and forbearance," Biden said. "He believed that it was appalling what was happening in China in terms of human rights," but added "there was a long road that was going to have to be traveled in that relationship and we shouldn't move precipitously," Biden quoted Bush as saying.
To protest the wave of arrests and executions that has taken place since June 3-4, when Chinese troops mounted a bloody assault on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing, Bush has suspended military sales to China, begun efforts to stop $1.4 billion in international development loans and banned high-level U.S. contacts with Beijing.
Senate Democratic leader George Mitchell of Maine, who was at the meeting, and other lawmakers have criticized Bush for not taking stronger action to protest the crackdown.
"Let's face it--I think the president was saying that it is very simple to take a precipitous action, break relations with China, but the long-range interests of the United States require delicate, appropriate, judgmental handling of the situation," said Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), who also attended the session.
There were these other protests Friday against the executions and political crackdown in Beijing:
-- Belgium announced it has frozen state loans to China and stopped funding for new development projects.
It has also suspended high-level visits between the two countries, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
The freeze affects an agreed-upon $7.5-million loan and any new loans until further notice.
-- The Italian government said it had suspended future development aid to China because of Beijing's "unacceptable repression." Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti said, "We have no choice but to suspend consideration (of future programs) as a sign of our grave dissent from current executions and unacceptable repression." Since 1987, Rome has said it would provide China with aid and loans totaling $800 million.
-- Japan Socialist Party Secretary General Tsuruo Yamaguchi, said Japan's major opposition party had decided to suspend top-level exchanges with the Chinese Communist Party for the time being. Yamaguchi said his party also demanded that the Japanese government take strong action against China. He said his planned visit to China later this year will be reconsidered.
-- In Bonn, the West German parliament called on the United Nations to debate violations of human rights in China without delay. A resolution backed by all five parties represented in parliament condemned the executions and demanded that the Security Council, the General Assembly and the human rights commission of the United Nations "immediately deal with the aggravated human rights violations in China."
It also called on China to declare an amnesty for dissidents, stop all political trials and allow independent human rights groups to visit jailed pro-democracy demonstrators. And it urged the World Bank to cancel further credits to the Beijing government.
A Foreign Ministry official noted that the West German government had suspended all development aid and economic cooperation with China but ruled out a full-blown West German economic boycott.