AFL-CIO President George Meany yesterday joined the attack on President Carter's decision to normalize relations with China, calling the action a betrayal of the president's own human rights policy.
Meany, whose 14-million-member labor federation has had close ties with Taiwan, charged that Carterm who recently called human rights "the soul" of U.S. foreign plicy, has "renounced that principle by extending diplomatic recognition to one of the world's most repressive violators of human rights."
In a blistering attack that seemed certain to exacerbate the AFL-CIO's already strained relations with the White House, Meany said: "We can understand - although not approve of - the applause from the business community, which is in search of quick profits no matter what the cost in human rights."
He added: "What we cannot understand, however, is how this president, who made human rights a world issue, could so suddenly and callously reject the human rights concerns of both those enslaved on mainland China and those on Taiwan who fear such enslavement."
Meany's charges came in the midst of a chorus of other criticism that also included a controversy about whether the State Department put pressure on Taiwanese Ambassador James Shen not to join congressional critics of the China policy in a press conference.
Shen was suppored to join Sens. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) at the conference sponsored by the American Security Ouncil. However, Dole said Shen called him just before the conference began and said he could not tkae part.
"He asked me if I knew what a diplomatic illness was," Dole said. "He was in effect ordered not to be here."
Dole said he did not know what pressures had been exerted on Shen, but John M. Fisher, an official of the sponsoring group, charges that the State Department interceded to have the Taiwanese government order Shen to stay away.
Asked about Fisher's charges, State Department spokesmen gave confusing responses. They said alternately that it was policy not to discuss private diplomatic conversations, that department officials had not discussed the matter with Shen and, without explaining how they knew, that the ambassador's decision was made between him and his government.
At the press conference, Dole charged that Carter's decision would have a negative effect on Senate consideration of a strategic arms limitation treaty (SALT) agreement with the Soviet Union.
Dole, who was cosponsor of a non-binding resolution adopted by the Senate last October calling on the president to consult with Congress before breaking the U.S. defense treaty with Taiwan, said: "If this is a courageous decision, who knows what he may have done on SALT. To have caved in on everthing. Can that be courageous?"
Hatch asserted that the administration, had it persisted, could have won Peking's acceptance of U.S. insistence on having normal relations with both China and Taiwan.
"We could have accomplished the same thing and still not abandoned Taiwan," he said. "I think we could have had both if we had the guts to hang in there."
Three Republican members of the House-John Ashbrook (Ohio), Robert Bauman (Md.) and Steven Symms (Idaho)-said they will file suit themselves or join Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) in a court test of whether Carter has the right to break the Yaiwan defense treaty without approval of Congress.
The chairman of the House subcommittee on Asian affairs, Rep. Lester L. Wolff (D-N.Y.), said he believes Carter has the legal right to break the treaty, but predicted: "The road ahead for nomalization in Congress is going to be difficult."
Wolff, who said he favors relations with Peking, added, "I am unhappy with the methods used to inform Congress of the decision and the failure by the administartion to consult the Congress on the substance of the decision."
He predicted that congressional unhappiness with the administration's handling of the matter will become evident when the president seeks congressional approval of favored-nation trading status for China or funds to open U.S. diplomatic offices there.
In response to all the criticism, Carter's national security affairs adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, contended that the negotiations with China could not have been conducted in public successfully.
In an appearance before the Foreign Policy Association, Brzezinski said: "I think the American people are mature enough to realize that you cannot conduct negotiations and, at the same time, advertise every single step in the negotiating process.This would simply prevent negotiations."
Brzezinski also said China for the past eight years had indicated a desire for better relations with the United States, and said it was the administration's "confident judgement" that this "reality" would preclude an attempt by Peking to relcaim Taiwan through Force.