DISSIDENT scientist Fang Lizhi's departure from China is likely to ease the pressure on President Bush, long under attack in Congress for being too soft on Beijing. Mr. Fang was allowed to leave the US Embassy in Beijing Monday after agreeing not to take part in anti-China activity.
His release should help block congressional efforts to overturn President Bush's decision to renew China's most-favored-nation (MFN) trade status despite Beijing's bloody crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy movement last June.
In the Senate, Republican leader Robert Dole called Fang's release ``one bit of tangible evidence that President Bush is on the right track in the way he is managing US-Chinese relations.''
But Democrat Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts said that until far greater progress was made on human rights, ``there continues to be no justification'' for extending China MFN status.
Efforts to block China's MFN status face considerable obstacles, including powerful arguments by numerous trade groups that American businesses would suffer.