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US wants fair trade with China, says top official

By Pu Zhendong in Beijing (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-01-30 13:22

The United States is now focused on completing negotiations of a high-value Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that does not seek to exclude, but rather help China, a senior US diplomat said on Wednesday.

"It is not specially about China one way or the other," said Wendy Sherman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. "It is about a group of countries coming together to create an important market that will benefit China as well, even if it is not a member of TPP at this moment."

Sherman, also head of the US team on the P5+1 nuclear negotiation with Iran, told reporters in Beijing when asked about the policy intentions of President Barack Obama when he said that the US, instead of China, should "write the rules" for trade in Asia in his State of the Union address last week.

"What we want to make sure of is whatever country will play by international norms in a fair playing field. We are happy to compete with anybody," said Sherman, who was in Beijing on her first stop of an Asia trip that will later lead her to Seoul and Tokyo.

On Tuesday, US Trade Representative Michael Froman declared that talks on the TPP pact involving 12 Pacific Rim nations are set to conclude within a "small number of months".

Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China and the US should work out economic and trade issues that come up amid cooperation in a "candid and practical" way and jointly contribute to "further improvement of global trade rules."

"We no doubt welcome a prosperous China, which is good for the US. And a strong American dollar and economy is good for China," Sherman said.

"In 2008, when we had economic crisis, there was this mythology among many investors that Chinese and US economies were decoupled. We all learned that was not the case at all," she added.

However, analysts said otherwise regarding concerns that China may face a new round of economic and trade barriers once TPP is fully established.

Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said more clashes in the economic realm are expected to erupt as both countries seek to set new rules to lead global recovery and regional integration.

"The US has to embrace ‘a new reality' of bilateral relations with China, which feature competition and cooperation simultaneously," Li said.

"It should also be noted that the two largest powers will manage differences in a ‘case by case' approach to maintain overall stability and highlight cooperative efforts, such as in tackling climate change," he added.

Dan Steinbock, research director of International Business at US-based India China and America Institute, said China's new reforms have shifted economic and trade "flash points" between the two countries.

"The role of bilateral trade deficits has been overshadowed by the rapid rise of China's foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US. And as efforts to accelerate innovation-led competitiveness in the mainland, Intellectual Property Rights are increasingly a part of Chinese policies as well," Steinbock said.

"Moreover, as the US recovery is broadening, the US dollar is strengthening and currency debates are fading away," he added.

President Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of last year's APEC meetings in Beijing and laid down an agenda for advancing bilateral ties.

Sherman said a steady stream of high-level visitors is expected to come to China in coming months, with a focus on "populating the agenda with real results".

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations will also become highlights of attention in terms of deepening relations this year, according to Sherman.

The visiting diplomat also exchanged opinions with Chinese counterparts on issues such as the terror threat, the situation on the Korean peninsula and the Iran nuclear negotiation.


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