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China, US to address trade row
Updated: 2004-04-19 15:12

Senior officials of China and the United States will sit down together to discuss their trade issues this week as Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi and her top-level delegation, including Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, left for the U.S. on Monday.

Vice-Premier Wu Yi attends the National People's Congress session in this March 5, 2004 file photo. [newsphoto]
Madame Wu will jointly chair the 15th session of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) with US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans and Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in Washington on Wednesday.

Topics expected to be addressed at the session include hot economic and trade issues that have emerged since late last year.

High on the agenda for the United States are likely issues of value-added tax on imported semiconductors, intellectual property rights protection, the technical standard on the WAPI wireless network, and trade imbalance.

China is likely to ask the United States to ease its control on exports of high-tech products, to recognize its market economy status and to cut restrictions on its exports of textile products,among other things.

Chinese analysts said both sides would have to turn to their political wisdom and negotiation skills in the one-day meeting if some concrete results were to be achieved.

First set up in 1983, the JCCT has been the highest level bilateral consultation mechanism on trade and commerce between China and the United States. But this year's session is the highest level of the past the decade.

Both China and the United States have described their political relations as "good" in general and "best in history." The increaseof trade disputes between the United States and China, Chinese observers acknowledged, is "nothing new" in the US election year.

Trade between China and the United States has been on a fast track over past years. Chinese statistics show that two-way trade hit US$126.3 billion last year, as against merely US$2 billion in 1978.

Commerce Minister Bo Xilai. [Newsphoto]
US figures indicate that while its foreign trade volume decreased by three percent from 2001 to 2003, its trade with Chinasurged 43 percent annually in the three years, making China the third largest trading partner of the United States.

During his recent visit to China, US Vice-President Dick Cheney said both China and the United States meant increasingly crucial to each other and that to expand trade and economic cooperation would serve the fundamental interests of the people of both nations and benefit the world at large.

China and the U.S. have voiced their readiness to resolve trade disputes through consultations and negotiations.

Premier Wen Jiabao said during his meeting with Cheney last week that China and the United States should view their relations from a "long-term and strategic" perspective, and should strengthen their trade relations on the basis of "mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit."

Moreover, Wen made a five-point proposal on handling Sino-US trade and economic ties when he met with President George W. Bush late last year in Washington, with the central idea of handling disputes on the basis of "equality, development and mutual benefit."

Officials of both countries have been making extensive preparations for the meeting, after it was set during the Wen-Bush meeting last year. Wu's entourage includes senior officials from several Chinese ministries such as the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Communication and the Ministry of Public Health.

During her stay in Washington, Vice-Premier Wu Yi is also likely to meet with senior officials of the US government, members of Congress and business people, according to Chinese sources.

US Undersecretary of Commerce Grant Aldonas said in Washington recently that the US government is much focused on the positive outcome of the JCCT meeting.

"We are really hopeful the [JCCT] meeting in April will truly produce concrete results," he said.

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