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US senator opposes tariff bill against China
Updated: 2005-06-05 10:15

SAN FRANCISCO - U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called on business leaders to oppose legislation that would penalize China for refusing to move to a more flexible currency, a bill she said was likely to win approval without vocal opposition from private industry.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks at a Democratic pro-filibuster rally on Capitol Hill May 23, 2005. [Reuters]
The Democrat from California, a state with a large Chinese population and seaports that serve as the gateway for trade with Asia, also urged President Bush on Friday to make plans to visit Chinese President Hu Jintao to smooth the sometimes rocky relationship between the two powers.

"I think at some point soon it would be very good for the president to make a trip to China, and have Hu Jintao as a state visitor to this country," Feinstein told Reuters. "That breaks down a lot of the problems."

Addressing a U.S.-Asia business group on Friday night, the senator urged Congress to back away from aggressive action against China on matters of currency and trade.

Criticizing a bill by Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that threatens China with large, across-the-board tariffs, Feinstein said new barriers would not instantly fix the U.S. trade imbalance with China.

"Many Americans believe that doing that is a kind of silver bullet, but in fact it isn't going to change outsourcing," she said, referring to arguments that the pegging of China's currency to the dollar has pushed U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas.

She asked for support from business leaders to oppose the Schumer-Graham bill. "If you agree with me, we really need the help in the Senate and in the House and with the administration," she said.

Feinstein's comments come as top U.S. and Chinese trade officials prepared to meet in Beijing on Saturday to discuss the flood of China's textile exports and the rise of counterfeiting. The senator said China's lack of enforcement of intellectual property rights made the matter the "largest problem between us."

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