From overseas press

Geithner's visit signals warming ties

Updated: 2010-04-08 13:39
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US Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner embarked on a previously unscheduled trip to China, which was seen by US media as a sign of improving economic relations between US and China.

New York Times April 7

The unexpected meeting between Mr. Geithner and the vice prime minister, Wang Qishan, comes during a flurry of diplomatic activity between Washington and Beijing meant to avoid a confrontation on China's policy of keeping its currency, the renminbi, at a nearly fixed exchange rate.

Economists said they did not expect the visit by Mr. Geithner to Beijing to produce any immediate breakthroughs on currency policy.

Chinese officials have gone out of their way to signal that they will not make any policy shift that might suggest to their own people that they were backing down in the face of American pressure.

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AP April 8

The decision to hold such a high-level encounter suggested Washington and Beijing are moving toward settling the currency dispute, which has threatened to overshadow cooperation on the global economy, Iran's nuclear program and other issues.

In another sign of warming ties, Chinese President Hu Jintao is due to hold talks with President Barack Obama during an April 12-13 visit to Washington for a nuclear security summit.

Bloomberg April 8

Geithner's trip comes four days after he postponed an April 15 deadline for a semiannual review of the currency policies of major US trading partners.

"The US administration was understandably concerned that we were headed toward a very slippery slope,"said Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd., in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday. "If we had held to the April 15 deadline, and gone out with a currency manipulation verdict on China, that could have unleashed a very dangerous chain of events."

Roach said Geithner's visit to Beijing is a "very encouraging"development that offers an "olive branch"to China ahead of a series of meetings. Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit Washington next week for talks with President Barack Obama, and the US and China also are headed toward their annual bilateral economic meetings in May.

Washington Post April 8

The Obama administration is hoping that talks on Thursday will advance a broader conversation about China's place in the emerging world economic order, a discussion that might focus in the short term on technical issues such as exchange rates but is rooted in deeper concerns.

The currency issue is only a proxy for a complex set of issues, including Asian regional trade, China's mounting stocks of foreign reserves, the country's still comparatively closed markets and its importance in ensuring global growth, that administration officials and other analysts say they hope will be addressed in coming months.

"We are now at a point where the worst of the economic crisis may be behind us," a senior administration official said in advance of Geithner's meeting with Wang. "Now is the time to begin to more deeply engage," over long-term changes in the relationship between the countries.