'Noise' over trade will disappear once the premier arrives, say economists Despite the aggressive tone coming out of Washington of late, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing remains optimistic Premier Wen Jiabao's first trip to the US will be a diplomatic success, especially on the economic front. Deputy Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong said yesterday that Mr Wen would not formally discuss the new tariffs imposed by the US on mainland-made television sets and the recent quotas put on imports of some Chinese textiles. 'The premier will leave it to other officials to handle those issues,' said Mr Zhou, who will accompany Mr Wen on his visit, which begins on Sunday and will include stops in New York, Washington and Boston. 'The premier wants to emphasise that China will rapidly increase US imports in the years ahead. We believe we will import up to US$1 trillion worth of US merchandise in the coming three years,' he said. Mr Wen impressed many in Southeast Asia during an Asean ministerial meeting two months ago, and he hopes to mount a similar public-relations blitz in the US. Economists in China and in the region said the belligerent tone from Washington would be toned down when the premier landed in the US. 'The noisy antics from the US are just showmanship. Real action, enforcement, won't happen,' said Wang Jian, a senior economist with the State Development and Reform Commission. He said tariffs on Chinese imports covered little more than US$500 million worth of trade, a fraction of China's $70 billion a year in exports to the US. 'The US strikes. The European Union strikes back; so does Japan; and we do too - the US can't tackle so many partners counter-attacking,' Mr Wang said. 'The US can't win this way. What the US is doing is purely negotiating tactics: the US wants benefits. They want more access to the China market and they want China on its side politically.' Economists said Monday's statement from US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Taiwan had defused worries in Beijing that Mr Wen might face a 'worst case' scenario and be forced to go head to head with the Bush administration on the issue of independence. Mr Boucher said the US would oppose any referendum in Taiwan designed to change the island's status or move it towards independence. Analysts said Mr Wen's strategy was to offer more trade concessions and market access to the US in return for assurances that it would rein in pro-independence forces in Taiwan. A Chinese Academy of Social Sciences economist, Hu Biliang, said the noise from trade hawks in Washington presented the premier with an ideal opportunity. 'It is a good time for the premier to go to the US, in that he can use this opportunity to insist on the 'one China' principle and to get the US to come out and speak on this further,' Mr Hu said. 'In addition, Premier Wen clearly wants to tell the US and the world that China's growth is an opportunity for the US and for the rest of the world, that China's growth isn't a threat to the US, that China as a large nation can be a co-operating partner and that, politically, China can help the US.' The premier will meet the heads of US manufacturing groups and labour unions, core voting constituencies angry at the Bush administration over 2.7 million industry jobs lost in the past three years.