US delegation 'pleased' with talks

By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-16 06:59

Visiting US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Friday he was pleased with what was accomplished on his delegation's China tour and that the strategic economic dialogue between China and the US was helpful.

Paulson said China's currency policy is "a core issue" in the bilateral economic relationship.

"We have indicated to the Chinese in the clearest possible terms that more flexibility in their exchange rate will help China achieve more balanced economic growth and have more control over its own monetary policy," he said at a press conference after two-day meetings with Chinese leaders including President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice-Premier Wu Yi and several ministers.

Paulson was joined at the press briefing by almost all the members of his delegation, including Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Labour Secretary Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Stephen Johnson.

When asked if his visit would satisfy the US Congress, which has been pushing for appreciation of the Chinese yuan as well as tougher trade action against China, Paulson said he is pleased with the visit.

"It is speculation as to what will satisfy various members of Congress," he said. "So I can only say I am very pleased with what we have accomplished, because we've got some immediate tangible results, some that are symbolic, but I think symbolically important."

Some members of the US Congress accuse China of undervaluing the yuan to allow products made in China to have a competitive advantage over US goods.

The talks occurred against a background of new US calls for speedier Chinese action to let the yuan appreciate, according to Reuters.

"We cannot continue to wait for this longer-term goal and suffer the consequences of insignificant short-term action," Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who will chair the Senate Banking Committee next year, and Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the outgoing Republican chairman, said in a recent statement.

China freed the yuan from a dollar-pegged system in July 2005, and on Friday the central bank set the currency's mid-point at a new post-reform high, 7.8185 per US dollar, for the second day in a row.

Besides the Chinese currency issue, Chinese and US officials talked about the protection of intellectual property rights, the opening-up of markets and joint co-operation in the energy sector.

Paulson said the dialogue provided the chance for US officials to bring up important issues to Chinese leaders related to the long-term development of bilateral economic relations.

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said the current strategic economic dialogue is different from the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which only focuses on solving some specific issues. She said the current dialogue is of strategic significance and focuses on solving long-term issues.

Paulson said that Chinese and US officials talked about broad, structural issues to which there are no speedy solutions.

"If you want immediate results, that's not realistic. We're talking about some of the very biggest issues here," he said.

Both China and the United States have worked on some plans to solve issues in such sectors as the service industry, energy, environment, transparency, investment and aviation.

Elaine Chao, the US labour secretary, said she talked with Chinese counterparts about the development of China's social security system to make Chinese people feel safer upon retirement.

"We discussed how to develop a private pension plan and a government pension plan to boost the confidence of Chinese citizens to consume more, buy more US goods and create more US jobs," Chao said.

(China Daily 12/16/2006 page2)

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