US President George W. Bush, meeting a top-level Chinese trade delegation at
the White House, said Thursday that China should import American beef, while
repeating his administration's years-old demand that Beijing needs to rake up
the value of its currency.
US President George W. Bush (C) and US
Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson (R) welcome Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi
to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex
in Washington, May 24, 2007. [Reuters]|
Vice-Premier Wu Yi, who is leading a team comprising of a dozen Chinese
cabinet ministers to attend the second round of China-America Strategic Economic
Dialogue in Washington, said consultations will resolve trade disputes, should
any disagreements crop up.
Bush agreed. Addressing a press corps at the White House, Bush said: "This is
an important dialogue. And it's one that I thank the Chinese government for
However, Bush urged China to quicken the pace of yuan revaluation. "One of
the issues I emphasized to Madame Wu Yi ... was that we're watching very
carefully as to whether or not they will appreciate their currency," Bush told
Wu Yi, China's top woman trouble-shooter, said attempts to pressure
China to carry out a significant revaluation of the yuan would not be helpful,
and could jeopardize the interests of the two countries.
Beijing is willing to promote flexibility of its currency, but it will keep
the yuan "basically stable at a reasonable, balanced level," said Wu.
Washington also wanted Beijing to open its market wider to US goods. "One
area where I have been disappointed is beef," Bush said to reporters after
meeting with Wu. "They need to be eating US beef. It's good for them," he said.
"They'll like it."
China stopped importing US beef when mad cow disease surfaced in the United
States in 2003. The World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, announced
Tuesday that it now considered the United States as a "controlled risk" country
for the feared bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow, a downgrading of
its earlier assessment of the potential dangers.
To cut the mighty bilateral trade imbalance, which the US Commerce Department
put at more than US$ 230 billion last year, China has been asking the United
States to sell it more high-tech products, such as satellites and super
computers, which Washington has imposed shipment restrictions on China. Wu Yi
said the restrictions had effectively diminished US share in China's booming
US lawmakers who had met Wu Yi said they intend to move ahead with
legislative measures, some of which propose levying punitive higher duties on
Chinese imports, to offset "an unfairly cheap yuan" which they believe having
made Chinese goods easier access to the US market.
Some of the world's renowned economists have said that inexpensive Chinese
shipments have contributed to low US interest rates, making its economy (and
other major world economies) on a continuous growth, and enabled the majority of
the middle-class American consumers to enjoy a quality livelihood.
RMB Reform will Continue in Orderly Way
The floating band of the renminbi exchange rate will continue to expand as
the market changes in the future, Wu Yi said.
"China's exchange rate reform will be advanced in an orderly way, based on
the principles of self-initiative, controllability and gradualism," Wu told a
group of US business leaders in Washington on Thursday.
"The flexibility of the yuan's exchange rate will be continuously increased
through the reform, while being maintained at a basically stable, reasonable
level," she said.
She added that a large appreciation could be harmful to China's economy and
that exchange rates were not the main cause of the huge US trade deficit with
Earlier, Chinese central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan, who is accompanying Wu Yi
on the trip, said he believes the pace of reform of the yuan exchange rate "is
"We agree on the general direction of currency reform," Zhou told reporters
Wednesday. "There is probably a little bit of difference on how fast we should
Since July 2005 when China's central bank de-linked the yuan with the US
dollar, the value of the Chinese currency has risen more than 8 per