Two US senators announced plans to visit China next week in an effort to
press Beijing on its trade policies ahead of a vote later this month on
legislation that could lead to hefty sanctions.
Democratic Senator Chuck
Schumer and his Republican colleague Lindsey Graham said that they would visit
China before a floor vote on the bill, which would slap a 27.5-percent tariff on
US Senator Lindsey Graham(L), speaks as US
Senator Chuck Schumer, listens during a media conference on Capitol Hill
in Washington. [AFP]
They will lead a delegation leaving March 19 for China and will meet with
high-level government, economic, business, and security officials in the three
major cities, according to a statement from the two lawmakers.
"We are going to China next week because this is a critical time for global
trade and our relationship with the world's most populous and fastest growing
country," said Schumer.
"Today, we have the largest trade deficit in history with China. If China is
to be a player in the world economy, they must play by the rules every other
country has to play by ... We hope we are given some reason to be hopeful that
China will revalue its currency and play by the rules while we are there."
Washington is facing growing complaints over the bulging US trade deficit
with China, which hit 201.6 billion dollars for 2005, up 24.5 percent for the
"It's an amazing country in many ways," U.S. President George W. Bush said of
China, while discussing rising American protectionism with major newspaper
publishers in Washington D.C last week. "It's a country that has chosen the
path, by and large, of markets and enterprise. They are an economic issue for
us, and that's why we've got a huge deficit with them."
Some critics and
lawmakers argue that China benefits from an artificially low currency and
various subsidies, offers few trade opportunities for US firms and does little
to crack down on piracy of US patents and copyrights.
And some American
economists have blamed the American enlarging deficit on American consumerism.
R. Glenn Hubbard, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to
the White House and now the dean of Columbia Business School, said that even a
sharp revaluation of the yuan by 15 percent or 20 percent might not make much of
a difference in the overall trade deficit of the United States as long as the
United States has a very low savings rate.
"If we don't have a deficit with China," he said, "we'll have a deficit with
Despite China's official statistics showing a 2005 U.S.
trade surplus of US$114 billion, trade officials say China is not deliberately
pursuing a trade surplus with the United States but rather a balance in imports
On July 21 last year, China's central bank, the People's Bank of China,
raised the value of the yuan against the US dollar by 2.1% and adopted a
market-sensitive currency exchange policy. The policy allows the yuan's daily
rate to float in line with major world currency changes. The yuan has since
climbed a further one percent against the dollar.
Li Zhaoxing, China's Foreign Affairs Minister, said Tuesday in Beijing China
not only wants to import American Boeing planes, grain, citrus and other fruit,
it also wants to import high-value, high-tech computers and equipment. America
has refused to export such items to China since 1989, citing national security
reasons. Li noted inexpensive Chinese goods have helped America maintain high
living standards and helped reduce inflationary pressures.