China will reform currency at own pace
By Joe McDonald
BEIJING — China showed its growing assertiveness yesterday as it launched high-level talks with Washington, saying it will carry out currency reform at its own pace and calling for an end to U.S. curbs on high-tech exports.
Beijing also called on Washington to simplify foreign investment rules that it says are hampering Chinese companies and defended a policy to promote domestic technology that its trading partners say might hurt foreign companies.
At an opening ceremony for the strategic talks, President Hu Jintao promised changes in exchange rate controls that Washington and others say keep China's yuan undervalued and distort trade. But he gave no indication when it might happen.
"China will continue to steadily advance the reform of the formation of the renminbi exchange rate mechanism under the principle of independent decision-making, controllability and gradual progress," Hu said at the Great Hall of the People.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sat onstage behind him.
U.S. and Chinese officials stressed their wide-ranging common interests and pledged closer cooperation on trade, financial regulation, climate and piracy. They called for more student exchanges and other efforts to promote "people to people" ties.
The gathering brings together dozens of Cabinet officials from both sides, the chiefs of both central banks and military officers. It is the second round of strategic talks, termed the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, that began last year in Washington.
"Our common challenge is to make sure that as the global economy recovers from the crisis, we are laying the foundation for strong, sustainable and balanced growth," Geithner said at a meeting on economics.
Yesterday's meetings focused on economic strategies and included discussion of the European debt crisis, officials said.
In currency, Beijing faces demands by some American lawmakers for trade sanctions if it fails to act.
President Obama vowed in February to get tough on currency but has been more conciliatory lately, possibly hoping Chinese leaders will act if they do not appear to be giving in to pressure.