Sustaining a key element of President Clinton's foreign policy, the House voted 318 to 105 Wednesday to maintain China's preferred trade status for one more year.
The lopsided vote endorsed Clinton's decision to condition any further extension of China's most-favored-nation trade status beyond July, 1994, on improvement in its record on human rights, use of forced prison labor, emigration policy and weapon exports policy.
"This vote will send a unified message to the Chinese regime that the clock is ticking," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who in previous years has favored revoking China's trade privileges.
"Unless these conditions are met, no kidding, next year most-favored-nation trade status is revoked," she said.
MFN status allows the exports of other countries to enter the United States at reduced tariffs.
The House rejected a resolution branding China a human rights abuser and disapproving any extension of the favorable trade status it has held for the last 13 years.
While supporters of the resolution said that China's leaders do not deserve favored treatment, opponents said that denying it now would do more harm than good.
Wednesday's vote marked a departure for the House, which has supported the revocation of most-favored-trade status for China in each of the last three years only to draw vetoes from former President George Bush.
Many Democrats who originally supported revoking the trade status this year changed their position after Clinton announced his policy.
China's status has been extended every year since 1980, but the issue has become highly charged since the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.
China is also running a $20-billion trade surplus with the United States and has been accused of transferring nuclear technology to Syria, Pakistan and Iran.
Pakistan on Wednesday denied it has received long-range M-11 missiles from China, which faces possible U.S. sanctions for its weapon exports.