Foreign media react positively to President Hu interview

08:22, January 19, 2011      

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Major foreign media have been positive in their coverage of Chinese President Hu Jintao's recent interview with two U.S. newspapers.

On the eve of his state visit to the United States, Hu answered questions concerning major domestic and international issues in a written interview with reporters from Wall Street Journal and Washington Post on Monday.

Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun said President Hu stressed the need to reform the U.S. dollar-based international financial system and expressed disagreement with the U.S. criticism of the slow appreciation of the Chinese yuan. He also hoped the parties to the Six-Party talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula would work actively to resume dialogue.

Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun said Hu called on the international community to further advance international financial system reform.

Hu said the financial crisis sparked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 was rooted in serious defects in the existing financial system and the monetary policy of the United States had a major impact on global liquidity and capital flows. "Therefore, the liquidity of the U.S. dollar should be kept at a reasonable and stable level," Hu said.

Hu said "the current international currency system is the product of the past," but he did not dispute the U.S. dollar's role as the global reserve currency. He said it "will be a fairly long process" before the yuan could become an international reserve currency.

German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the Chinese president agreed that China and the United States should be partners for cooperation in broader areas and abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality. Hu wrote in the interview that both countries should respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also expressed concerns over U.S. monetary policy.

German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung said, before his visit, Hu expressed his confidence while saying the current international currency system was "the product of the past." Though it will take a long time for the yuan to compete with the U.S. dollar as the global dominant currency, Hu had no doubt about the development trend.

German newspaper Handelsblatt also referred to Hu's quote that the current international currency system was "the product of the past," but noted he made no compromise on the continuing debate over the right exchange rate. Beijing "cannot accept" U.S. demands of yuan appreciation, it quoted him as saying.

The British Financial Times said on its website that Hu had talked about the role of the yuan in the written interview with U.S. media, and underlined China's concern about the impact on its own economy of U.S. monetary policy.

The article said Hu rarely gave newspaper interviews to the U.S. media, which illustrated the importance China attached to the U.S. trip. In spite of what he acknowledged as a "sensitive" issue of disagreement between the United States and China, he generally struck a positive note on bilateral ties, saying the two sides could work productively together.

The article said Hu's comments on the U.S.-led monetary system as a "product of the past" was confirmation that China would continue to take measures to internationalize the yuan. Meanwhile, he also said that "making the yuan an international currency will be a fairly long process." On the recent stimulus measures taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve, Hu said the liquidity of the U.S. dollar should be kept at a reasonable and stable level.

French newspaper La Tribune said Hu answered seven questions raised by two U.S. newspapers, saying that the U.S.-led monetary system was a "product of the past," and criticizing the Fed's quantitative easing monetary policy.

The report said that Hu insisted the two countries should build close and constructive relationship, referring to new energy, clean energy, infrastructure and aerospace. He also said both countries should abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality and respect each other's choice of development path.

U.S. newspaper Washington Post said that Hu promised China would continue to develop "socialist democracy." His remarks on this issue seemed to suggest that Chinese leaders understood the increasingly rich population had growing demands for diversity. He said the fact that China had enjoyed sustained, rapid economic growth and social stability and harmony in the past 30 years proved the validity of China's political system.

Hu said China had "made relentless efforts" to help ease the tension in the Korean peninsula, and thanks to joint efforts by China and other parties, "there have been signs of relaxation."

Singaporean newspaper Lianhe Zaobao said on its website that Hu admitted there were some differences and sensitive issues between China and the United States, but his attitude was gentle. Hu made a relatively optimistic assessment of China-U.S. relations, saying that both countries should abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality and respect each other's choice of development path.

The AFP said that replying to questions from The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, Hu came out fighting on the currency issue that was so vital to the world economy, as well as to a Chinese leadership that felt it must sustain strong growth to survive.

Highlighting the dollar's importance to global trade, Hu implicitly criticized the Federal Reserve's recent decision to pump 600 billion dollars into the U.S. economy.

The AFP said that, on the eve of his visit, the tenor of Hu's message was overwhelmingly conciliatory and positive.

Reuters said Hu hoped China and United States could abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality and he also put forward new cooperation proposals.

Eswar Prasad, a Brookings Institution economist and former International Monetary Fund chief of financial studies, said, "Hu makes it clear that China intends to move forward on opening its markets, freeing up its exchange rate and restructuring its political system, but at its own pace and with little heed to external pressures for more rapid or broader reforms."


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