Beijing 'willing to resolve trade row'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2007, 12:00am

China's ambassador to the United States says Beijing is willing to resolve the growing trade row with Washington, while at the same time urging American critics, particularly those in the US Congress, to take a more 'global' view of economic relations.

'We are working hard with the US side to make sure that the China-US relationship is mutually beneficial by solving the problems that exist in trade and economic issues,' ambassador Zhou Wenzhong said.

'However, I hope the US Congress sees such problems within the context of the region and globalisation.'

Mr Zhou's remarks, in a speech at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington on Wednesday, were made as the Democrat-controlled Congress begins to launch a series of punitive measures targeting Beijing for the American trade imbalance with China, which hit a record US$232.5 billion last year.

There are at least 15 bills on the legislature's books seeking to impose sanctions on China for allegedly keeping the value of the yuan artificially low, a tactic that critics say is costing American jobs.

Earlier in the day, Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham announced they would soon introduce tough new legislation that would force China to change currency policies. In 2005 the two proposed a bill that sought to impose 27.5 per cent penalty tariffs on all Chinese imports if Beijing did not raise the value of the yuan.

While saying that most members of the US Congress wanted mature and stable Sino-US relations, Mr Zhou urged lawmakers to consider the common strategic interests of both countries and adopt a long-term perspective. He also defended the China-US trade relationship by arguing that 80 per cent of US firms operating in China had reported profit growth and that more than 1,000 Chinese firms were investing in the US.

A crucial focal point will be the May 23-24 Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED), in which Vice-Premier Wu Yi will lead a senior Chinese delegation in meetings with US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and other US officials in Washington.

During the meetings, Beijing is expected to announce a series of new measures to boost US exports to China, such as major purchases of American-made goods.

In preparation for the SED, Mr Zhou said China had 'joined hands' with the Bush administration to ensure that the meeting would be productive and fruitful. He said the initial session in Beijing in December was candid and had strengthened mutual trust and co-operation.

However, Mr Zhou cautioned Washington not to expect Beijing to concede to US demands.

'We hope that the second round of the SED is successful. However, your definition of success and our definition of success are not the same ... I hope that the expectations are not too high,' he said.