HOUSE MULLS ENDING SATELLITE SALES TO CHINA

HOUSE MULLS ENDING SATELLITE SALES TO CHINA

Amid a rising partisan furor over suggestions the Clinton administration may have traded sensitive aerospace technology for illegal campaign contributions, Republican leaders Wednesday allowed the House to consider provisions that could block future U.S. satellite sales to China.

At the same time, House GOP leaders declined to entertain other, more far-reaching trade controls, including provisions that would have extended restrictions on technology trade with China to Hong Kong or raised prohibitive tariffs on imports of textiles from India.Enactment of the China satellite provisions, which were offered as part of major bill authorizing Pentagon programs, would undermine President Clinton's position going into next month's scheduled summit in Beijing and could impede U.S. companies from participating in future development of China's science, media and communications markets.

''Essentially we're saying, 'You've fouled this up. We're putting the brakes on. We're protecting American interests until we can figure out what went on,''' said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

Rep. Hunter, who drew attention last year for his efforts to block a lease by the China Ocean Shipping Co. for a West Coast container terminal, offered an amendment to that would prohibit the export or re-export of any U.S. Satellites to the China.

BLOCKS MISSILE TRANSFER

Another amendment, offered by Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., prohibits the transfer of any U.S. missile equipment of missile-related technology to China. A third amendment offered by Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., a pro-trade member of the House International Relations Committee, prohibits U.S. participation of any investigation of a launch failure of a U.S. satellite from China.

Presently U.S. companies are required to apply for and receive a license from the State Department to participate with China in any investigation of a a satellite launch failure. The amendment would block those licenses.

The flurry of China-related amendments are coming in the wake of mounting disclosures about the purported role of two U.S. companies, Loral and Hughes, in the helping China adjust to the crash of a $200 million U.S. satellite in 1996.

REPUBLICANS ARE CONCERNED

Republicans are particularly concerned about a subsequent Department of Defense statement that the assistance by the two U.S. companies damaged U.S. national security interests.

A fourth amendment allowed by GOP leaders, clearly aimed at giving Republicans election-year fodder they can use to criticize Mr. Clinton as he prepares to meet again with China's President Jiang Zemin, appeared to have a good chance of winning approval. It expresses a sense of Congress that U.S. business interests should not be placed above U.S. national security interests,and that the United States should not enter into new agreements with China involving space or missile-related technology.

VOTES ARE PENDING

Votes on the four amendments were pending in the House Wednesday.

Other amendments offered by Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., prohibit the sale of technology and equipment, including commercial cargo jets to Hong Kong now that it is under Beijing's control.

''I observed the handover,'' said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., a free trader who is in line to take over chairmanship of the House Rules Committee next year, and ''I was struck by the desire of the elected leadership of Hong Kong to preserve their independence.''