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China-US dialogue reaps benefits

2011-05-12 13:22

Range of deals signed to expand economic, strategic partnership

WASHINGTON - China and the United States announced a range of agreements on Tuesday aimed at expanding strategic and economic cooperation after two days of high-level meetings.

The world's two largest economies pledged to address each other's concerns and made progress in areas ranging from easing high-tech exports to China to increasing sales opportunities for US companies, according to a joint news briefing at the conclusion of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Following China's repeated requests, the US "commits to accord China fair treatment in reform of its export control regime, and relax control of high-tech exports to China", said Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, who led China's team together with State Councilor Dai Bingguo, at the news briefing.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who headed the US team, also attended the briefing.

Washington also "agreed to ... speed up the process for the US to recognize China's market economy status", Wang said.

China has repeatedly urged the US to lift the ban on high-tech exports, which experts believe is the major source of China's trade surplus with the US.

China has also expressed concerns over recognition of its market economy status.

The US and the European Union have launched trade remedy cases against Chinese exports, taking advantage of the fact that China has yet to be recognized as a market economy.

"We are happy to see the positive developments, but I wonder if words can turn into reality," said Zhou Shijian, a senior trade expert at Tsinghua University.

Meanwhile, China has promised to modify government rules to make it easier for US companies to compete for government contracts.

The US-China Business Council (USCBC) welcomed the move.

"Outlining specific steps to remove market barriers in China's government procurement policies is one example of an outcome that is important for American companies," John Frisbie, USCBC president, said.

"Eliminating the use of government-approved product lists for procurement ... will be significant, if fully implemented.

"Once again, steady and focused engagement with China proves to show results."

China will also provide better protection for US companies against the piracy of computer software and other copyrighted materials.

Zhu Guangyao, vice-finance minister, said protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is in China's own interests, and a prerequisite for China to build an innovative society.

"The two nations share common interests in IPR protection," Zhu said following the joint news briefing.

China's commitment to "making long-term improvements in its high-level protection of intellectual property rights and enforcement regime ... will help protect US innovators as well as Chinese innovators in all industries, not just in software," Geithner said.

Clinton said: "As we have ... committed to keeping the relationship moving forward, we have some milestones ahead of us."

She told reporters that the dialogue was inclusive as the US had made its concerns known on a range of sensitive issues, including human rights.

Currency policy

"We are seeing very promising shifts in the direction of Chinese economic policy," Geithner said in his address to the media, highlighting the fact that the yuan has risen by more than 5 percent against the dollar since June.

He said the Chinese currency had appreciated at an annual rate of about 10 percent "when you take into account the fact that Chinese inflation is significantly faster than that in the US".

Zhu said "China and the US agree to the general direction of China's currency reform, but the two countries diverge on the pace of the reforms.

"China will continue the reform according to its own interests and its own development realities," Zhu said.

Trade and investment

Both countries pledged to take additional measures to promote free trade and investment, to help spur economic growth, create jobs and promote innovation and prosperity.

Wang especially noted the consensus on expanding cooperation in infrastructure programs as well as in clean energy, the green economy, and innovation.

He said The Comprehensive Framework for Promoting Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth and Economic Cooperation will lead a joint effort to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth in both countries.

Zhu Guangyao said the most important thing now is to translate words into action.

"It won't do if we only hear the sound of footsteps but see no one coming downstairs," he said, citing a Chinese proverb.

Ding Qingfen in Beijing contributed to this story.

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