China, US get down to business

09:56, May 24, 2010      

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The United States yesterday pressed China to give "fair access" for foreign companies.

At the same time, China stressed the risks both economies faced from Europe's debt woes, ahead of top-level talks in Beijing.

Speaking in Shanghai, a day before the start of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed the importance of American economic concerns for relations with China.

"In the coming days, officials at the highest levels of our two governments will be discussing issues of economic balance and competition," Clinton said in a speech given in a vast hangar at Pudong International Airport.

"American companies want to compete in China," she said in front of a Boeing 737. "They want to sell goods made by American workers to Chinese consumers with rising income and increasing demand."

Clinton's remarks underscored how large economic concerns will loom at the two-day meeting, jostling for attention with other issues, including North Korea.

The US annual trade gap with China fell to US$226.8 billion in 2009, down from a record US$268 billion in 2008. But the Obama administration is keen to lift exports and employment, and the deficit remains a friction point.

In comments published yesterday, China's Finance Minister Xie Xuren said cooperation with the US was all the more important in the face of the European debt crisis.

"At present, risks from European sovereign debt have increased factors of instability in the course of global economic recovery," Xie wrote an essay published in the Washington Post and on his ministry's Website.

China and the US must "each protect macro-economic stability and strengthen macro-economic policy coordination, to consolidate the trend towards global economic recovery," Xie wrote.

Xie's remarks jarred those of a senior US Treasury Department official who said ahead of the talks with China that Europe's crisis should have only minimal impact on the global recovery.

There has been speculation that China may delay letting the yuan rise in value out of concern that its exports to Europe will suffer.



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