Geithner Urges China to Accelerate Economic Reforms

Posted May 3rd, 2012 at 2:45 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday urged China to let the value of its tightly-controlled currency rise, as top diplomats from both countries gathered in Beijing for annual talks on economic and security issues.

Geithner's comments came at the start of the two-day U.S.-China Strategic Dialogue, which has been overshadowed by a diplomatic dispute over a Chinese activist who is seeking U.S. protection. Neither side directly mentioned the case in opening remarks at the dialogue.

Instead, Geithner called on China to speed up its economic reforms. He acknowledged that China has allowed its yuan currency to gain about 13 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past two years. But he said more gains were in both the U.S. and China's long-term economic interest.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan defended China's monetary policy, saying Beijing has made progress on the issue. He also urged Washington not to “politicize” economic issues.

The U.S. has long accused China of intervening in currency markets to push down the value of the yuan. A lower value means Chinese-made goods are cheaper for foreign buyers, boosting China's exports.

The dialogue comes amid controversy surrounding blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said in his opening remarks at the dialogue that Washington and Beijing should not let disagreements over certain issues negatively affect overall U.S.-China relations.

“Both sides must learn to respect each other, grasp the common ground and make the cake of common interest bigger, treat differences appropriately, respect and care for each other's concerns, properly resolve existing disputes through dialogue and communication and strengthen mutual understanding to avoid impacting the overall state of the Sino-U.S. relationship.”

In her opening comments, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on China to protect human rights.

U.S. officials had hoped the dialogue would be an opportunity to highlight areas of common interest between the two countries. Washington is also seeking Beijing's support in defusing tension Iran, North Korea, and Syria.