Obama's demand for valued yuan greeted by China's silence

Standing beside Obama after their summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao avoided mentioning the yuan or the dollar.

Obama's demand for valued yuan greeted by China's silence

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged a reluctant China to let its yuan currency rise in value at a summit where strains over trade between the two giants.

Standing beside Obama after their summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao avoided mentioning the yuan or the dollar.

Instead, Hu emphasized during a joint media appearance the need to avoid trade protectionism in a thinly veiled reference to China's irritation over new U.S. tariffs on Chinese-made tires, steel pipes and other products.

Washington has angered China in recent months by imposing tariffs on Chinese tyres and preliminary duties on some steel products. Beijing countered by launching its own probes into US car imports and chicken meat.

With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, one of Obama's top priorities during his three-day trip to China is pressing Beijing over the huge trade imbalance between the two countries, a move he believes would pave the way for greater U.S. export opportunities.

"Past statements"

Washington argues that an undervalued yuan is putting U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage and stoking global economic imbalances.

"I was pleased to note the Chinese commitment made in past statements to move toward a more market-oriented exchange rate over time," Obama said as Hu stood next to him on a podium with three Chinese and three U.S. flags in the background.

Obama said movement by China on its exchange rate would "make an essential contribution to the global rebalancing effort."

But his reference to China's "past statements" on currencies indicated Hu might not have been forthcoming on how Beijing might respond.

Hu said the two leaders talked of the need to keep in close contact on "macroeconomic and financial policies and continue to consult, on an equal footing, to properly resolve and address economic and trade frictions."

"I stressed that under the current circumstances, we need to oppose all kinds of trade protectionism even more strongly," Hu said.

Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S.-China Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said Hu's silence on the currency may stem in part from a reluctance by China to be seen making policy concessions under foreign pressure.

"I personally think that there may be some slight, symbolic adjustment on exchange rate policy after Obama leaves, but not during the visit itself," said Sun.

"But don't expect much. China believes that the main problem is not the weakness of the yuan but the weakness of the dollar. The feeling here is, 'Why should we be the scapegoat for your dollar problems?"

The issue of currencies has sparked testy exchanges in recent days between U.S. and Chinese officials.

China's Commerce Ministry on Monday rebuffed calls for the yuan to appreciate, signaling resistance to change a foreign exchange policy.

"One-China" policy

In addition to discussing economic issues,Obama says he sees no need to change Washington's "one-China" policy, which acknowledges China's position that Taiwan is part of its territory.

"I have been clear in the past that my administration fully supports a one-China policy," Obama said Monday. "...We don't want to change that policy and that approach."

Obama says he is "very pleased" with the reduction in tensions between China and Taiwan. The relationship has improved significantly since new leadership took over in Taiwan last year.

However, Obama said on Tuesday he told China that all minorities should enjoy human rights and urged China to resume talks with the Dalai Lama's representatives.

Speaking at a news conference in Beijing, Obama said he had also told Chinese President Hu Jintao about U.S. beliefs on human rights.

Obama has been criticised by some who believe he is downplaying human rights issues.

International watchdogs have urged Obama to raise human rights, Uighurs and Tibet during his China visit.

China executed nine Uighurs over East Turkistan protests as the first executions since July. China convicted 21 defendants in October.

Obama did not meet Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, when he was in Washington in early October. But the Dalai Lama has said they may meet after Obama returns from China, which condemns the Buddhist monk as a separatist for demanding Tibetan self-determination.

"Respecting each other's sovereignty"

Hu said he and Obama agreed during talks in Beijing to expand dialogue on human rights on the basis of respecting each other's sovereignty.

In a joint statement released after the summit, they said they were "determined to work together to achieve more sustainable and balanced global economic growth," echoing the position of the G20 on ironing out dangerous imbalances.

Hu expressed appreciation that Obama, who arrived in China on Sunday night, had welcomed a "strong, prosperous and successful China that plays an even greater role on the world stage."

Chinese media have avoided fawning over Obama, in contrast to the effusive receptions he has received in Europe. Several websites deleted comments championing Internet freedom that he made at a town hall talk with students in Shanghai on Monday.



Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Kasım 2009, 16:35
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