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US and Chinese Finance Officials Open Talks


U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow and other high-ranking U.S. finance officials have opened talks in China on boosting U.S. access to the Chinese market. The talks will also focus on Washington's demands for China to make further currency adjustments.

The economic talks between Chinese officials and a U.S. delegation headed by Treasury Secretary John Snow and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan began Sunday at the close of a meeting of the G-20, a gathering of finance ministers and central bankers of major industrial and developing nations.

In a joint statement Sunday, the G-20 nations called for a new strategy to fight poverty, promote free trade, and protect world economic stability, which they say is threatened by rising oil prices.

Chinese Finance Minister Jin Renqing spoke at the conclusion of the G-20 meeting.

Mr. Jin said there were deep discussions on the potential risks brought by high oil prices, and possible countermeasures.

The Chinese finance minister then joined the governor of China's central bank, Zhou Xiaochuan, for separate bilateral meetings with the U.S. delegation.

U.S. officials were expected to apply more pressure on the Chinese to further adjust their currency, the yuan. Beijing revalued the yuan by 2.1 percent in July, but Washington says more is necessary as U.S. concerns mount over a trade imbalance that reached $162 billion last year.

Some American politicians, labor groups, and manufacturers blame China's currency policy for the trade deficit, saying an undervalued Chinese currency is hurting U.S. competitiveness by making Chinese products artificially cheap.

China has thus far rejected demands for any sharp adjustments.

On Saturday, U.S. officials said the talks with China, set to go through Monday, will cover a variety of issues, including the removal of caps and other restrictions on foreign ownership of Chinese banks and other financial institutions.

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