Two congressmen said Saturday China had to improve its human rights record if it wanted Washington to renew its Most Favored Nation trade status.

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., told a news conference at Hong Kong airport China must grant more social, religious and political freedom to its citizens."We will look at China's progress in all of these areas, as well as our colleagues, and make an assessment," Smith said.

"We understand some things can't happen overnight, but we see the pendulum swinging the wrong way. Our hope is that we can slow and begin the pendulum going in the opposite direction."

Hours earlier, China warned the United States that relations would suffer if it revoked MFN - an undertaking by both countries to give each other the maximum tariff concessions on mutual trade that they grant to any other trading partner.

"If MFN status to China is suspended, it will harm bilateral relations very seriously, especially economic and trade relations," Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Li Lanqing said in Beijing.

"It will seriously hurt Hong Kong too, and that's the last thing we'd like to see."