WASHINGTON — A landmark China trade bill that would open the giant territory to the U.S. entertainment industry was on the brink of passage after the U.S. Senate on Thursday rejected the final amendments and scheduled a Tuesday vote.
Senators said there was no longer any doubt legislation granting permanent normal trade relations to China would pass by a large margin; a victory for President Clinton and business groups eager to tap the vast Chinese marketplace, potentially the world’s largest with 1.3 billion consumers.
The last major hurdle was cleared on Wednesday when senators rejected a controversial amendment to impose sanctions on China for its alleged role in weapons proliferation.
The Senate went on to defeat the final six amendments on Thursday, ending a two-week drive by Beijing’s critics to scuttle the bill by amending it.
In exchange for the benefits, China has agreed to open a wide range of markets to U.S. businesses under the terms of an agreement setting the stage for Beijing to join the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO) later this year.
Clinton has made passage of permanent normal trade relations for China a top legislative priority for his final year in office.