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China: Big yuan rise won't help US

Nov 13 2011 16:10 AFP

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Beijing - China's President Hu Jintao said a big rise in his country's exchange rate would not help the United States, in comments published on Sunday following a US warning over the level of the yuan currency.

"Even if the yuan rises substantially, it will not solve problems faced by the United States," Hu told US President Barack Obama in talks in Hawaii on the eve of a major Asia-Pacific summit, according to an account posted on the foreign ministry website.

He said problems such as the US trade deficit and unemployment were not caused by China's exchange rate, which he qualified as "responsible", and added Beijing would continue to steadily push forward currency reforms.

The United States - a major buyer of Chinese products - has accused Beijing of deliberately keeping its currency undervalued, despite some appreciation this year.

A weaker yuan has made Chinese exports cheaper in the international market, leading to major trade imbalances with trading partners such as the United States.

But China defends its exchange rate regime, saying it is moving gradually to make the yuan currency more flexible, but this has failed to silence critics in the US who argue the Chinese currency is undervalued by about 30%.

During the meeting, Obama told Hu that Americans were "frustrated" and "impatient" at the pace of change in Beijing's economic policy, a senior US official said, in language that betrays rising concern over the yuan currency.

The meeting took place amid rising domestic political pressure on Obama over China's trade record, voiced again by Republican candidates in a campaign debate on Saturday as the 2012 presidential election campaign gathers pace.

The US Senate last month approved a bill to impose punitive taxes on Chinese imports if the yuan is not revalued.

China reacted furiously, accusing US senators of scapegoating it during an election year, and saying the bill flouted World Trade Organisation rules and would "seriously" harm ties between the world's number one and two economies.

The White House, however, has not supported the Senate bill and Republican majority leaders in the House of Representatives have warned it could lead to a damaging trade war, effectively dooming its prospects of becoming law.

At the G20 summit earlier this month, China pledged to promote greater flexibility in its currency, but analysts do not expect to see a dramatic change in the yuan value given the importance of exports to the Chinese economy.

china  |  currency war  |  yuan
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