Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday ruled out an immediate appreciation of the yuan, saying Beijing will reform its currency regime gradually. Mr Wen's remarks - made in an address to the Sixth Asia-Europe Meeting of finance ministers in the northern port city of Tianjin - are his latest attempt by mainland leaders to avert growing international pressure for China to revalue its currency. They also come ahead of the Group of Eight meeting next week, at which President Hu Jintao is expected to face more pressure from leaders of the industrialised nations on the subject. Mr Wen reiterated that it was up to Beijing to determine when and how to reform its exchange rate. 'China must uphold the principles of independent initiative, control and gradual progress in pursuing RMB exchange rate reform,' he said. 'By 'independent initiative', we mean to independently determine the modality, content and timing of reform in accordance with China's needs for reform and development.' Developed nations, particularly the United States, blame the artificially low value of the yuan for China's soaring exports and its huge trade surplus with western nations in recent years. US lawmakers are pushing to impose hefty tariffs on Chinese exports if Beijing refuses to revalue this year. Mr Wen said Beijing should take into account the impact of exchange-regime reform on economic stability, growth and jobs before making such an important decision. Policy-makers should also consider the state of China's financial institutions and regulations, the resilience of its enterprises and the effect on foreign trade. The impact on neighbouring, regional and global economies should also be considered. 'By 'gradual progress' we mean to push forward the reform in a step-by-step manner. We must take into consideration both the present needs and future development and guard against undue haste,' he said. 'Since reform involves a wide range of areas and will have a far-reaching impact, it still requires a great deal of preparation to help create an enabling environment for all sides to sustain the possible impacts.' He said China needed to continue improving the exchange-rate mechanism and develop a more market-oriented and more flexible exchange-rate system.