Hu pledges more trade, reforms

Washington, April 21:

Chinese President Hu Jintao, facing growing trade tensions with the United States, pledged Thursday to continue exchange-rate reforms and boost imports but offered no new concrete measures.

“We will continue to pursue the strategy of boosting domestic demand and ensure fast and balanced economic and social development in China,” Hu said at the White House where he was greeted by President George W. Bush in an official visit.

“This will create more opportunities for China-US economic cooperation and trade.” Hu added, “We will continue to advance the reform of the RMB (yuan) exchange rate regime, take positive steps in such areas as expanding market access, increasing imports, and strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights, and further expand China-US economic cooperation and trade.” But the Chinese leader signaled no new concrete initiatives to whittle down China’s yawning $201 billion trade surplus with the US, which critics here say is fueled by Beijing’s unfair practices.

The visit came amid growing trade friction with the United States, where some lawmakers and others accuse Beijing of manipulating its currency and maintaining barriers that distort trade in favor of China.

Bush raised the ante last week by announcing he was expecting a statement from Hu on the currency issue. But after the talks, the White House played down the minimal response from the Chinese side.

Bush meanwhile indicated that he expected further moves from China. “We would hope there will be more appreciation of their currency,” Bush told reporters following the talks.