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China goes on a shopping spree in the United States

Updated: 2006-04-07 09:03
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China's Vice Premier Wu Yi is heading a large squad of businessmen and economic officials on a shopping spree tour in the United States, in the hope to cool a rising protectionist sentiment in the US Congress, the New York Times reported.

China goes on a shopping spree in the United States
China's Vice-Premier Wu Yi applauds at the signing ceremony of purchasing contracts and agreements between China and U.S. companies during her visit to Los Angeles April 6, 2006. [Reuters]

The Chinese buying team is expected to order US goods at an estimated gross value of US$15 billion, sources said.

The buying mission, deemed the largest Beijing has assembled since reestablishing diplomatic relations with the United States in late 1979, indicates Chinese government's eagerness to improve economic and political relations with Washington, and is also believed to pave way for the first ever visit to the White House by President Hu Jintao later this month, the newspaper quoted analysts as saying.

More than 100 business executives joined Madame Wu Yi, an economic trouble-shooter, on an American tour that began Tuesday in Hawaii and is scheduled to cover a total of 13 states. The trip is expected to result in multibillion-dollar orders for Boeing aircraft, auto parts, computer software, telecommunications equipment, grain, cotton and soybeans and other products, Chinese officials and media reports said.

Wu said China expects some trade friction with the United States but views stable economic ties as crucial.

Washington and Beijing should resolve disputes in a spirit of "objectivity, equality and consultation and avoid politicizing economic and trade issues," the Xinhua News Agency quoted Vice Premier Wu Yi as saying at a signing ceremony in Los Angeles.

At the ceremony, an array of procurement contracts worth 4.44 billion U.S. dollars were signed, involving 27 projects, ranging from software, power generation equipment to automobiles and electronic products.

She said a mutually beneficial trade relationship is crucial for overall China-U.S. relations, though some friction is to be expected.

 A senior Chinese foreign ministry official described the latest buying mission as "very big," and noted that it included representatives from a wide range of state-owned and private businesses who do not typically travel with senior Chinese leaders.

"We do want to show the United States that trading ties are mutually beneficial and we hope people will take notice," said the senior foreign ministry official, who do not want to be identified by name. "Our message is that common interests are on the increase and the basis of the bilateral relationship is being constantly strengthened."

President Hu Jintao will visit the United States from April 18-22, his first trip to the White House since becoming China's Communist Party chief in 2002 and president in 2003. Chinese officials are eager to ensure a positive reception for Mr. Hu and to demonstrate that he can keep China's most delicate and important diplomatic relationship on an even keel, said the New York Times.

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