WASHINGTON (AP) _ National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, whose surprise mission to China earlier this month created a storm of criticism in Congress, made a secret visit to Beijing in July, the White House said today.

A month after the bloody government crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, Bush sent Scowcroft to China ''to personally underscore the United States' shock and concern about the violence,'' said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.

Fitzwater also said that Scowcroft's trip intended was ''to impress upon the Chinese government the seriousness with which this incident was viewed in the United States.''

Fitzwater left open the possiblity that Scowcroft or other top U.S. officials had made other secret trips to China.

''I can't rule out other encounters,'' he said.

He added that he, personally, had been unaware of earlier trips.

The spokesman declined to say when in July Scowcroft had gone to Beijing, but said it was at least a month after government troops killed hundreds of democracy protesters when the troops moved into the square on June 3.

Fitzwater's comments were the first administration acknowledgement that Scowcroft has made more than one trip to China after the crackdown.

''The president felt this face-to-face mission, like the one recently completed by General Scowcroft, was necessary to show the sense of purpose and direction of the United States government,'' Fitzwater added in a statement.

Earlier today, Bush, without noting Scowcroft's July trip, told reporters that critics of this month's visit have been ''dealing with emotion and not facts'' and that ''once they deal with a full deck, I expect people will understand it.''

He said that criticism of the Dec. 8-9 trip by Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger was subsiding and that those who were still skeptical should ''be a little patient and wait and see'' how Beijing responds.

''I'm just going to stay with my position and take on a little heat from time to time. And we'll wait and see what happens,'' said Bush, who has been accused by Democrats of ''kowtowing'' to the Chinese leaders.