The Clinton administration said yesterday that it will sponsor a resolution critical of China's human rights record at the next meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, scheduled for Geneva in March.

"China's human rights record has continued to deteriorate," said State Department spokesman James P. Rubin, citing Beijing's crackdown on political dissent, the Falun Gong spiritual movement, unregistered churches and ethnic minorities, especially Tibetans.

The announcement came one day after the administration launched a campaign to persuade Congress to grant China permanent normal trading rights, part of the accord to admit China to the World Trade Organization.

The United States did not support a similar resolution at the U.N. human rights commission in 1998, after China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and released dissidents Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng. Last year, the Clinton administration belatedly announced its support for the resolution, prompting critics to say that insufficient time was left to marshal support for it.

But a senior Clinton administration member said yesterday that "it has not been a good year" for human rights in China.

Rubin noted that the covenant signed by Beijing in 1998 was never ratified by the Chinese parliament. He added that Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright had instructed U.S. ambassadors to lobby foreign governments to support the U.N. commission resolution.

"The goal here . . . is to shine an international spotlight directly on China's human rights practices," Rubin said. "China clearly doesn't want this to happen. But the best way for China to not have this happen is for it to make improvements in its record, significant improvements."