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China Rejects US Criticism on Compliance With Trade Agreements

China is rebuffing allegations by the United States that it has been backsliding on trade agreements. The accusations come two years after China joined the World Trade Organization.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans this week criticized China for what he said is its failure to make good on promises to remove trade barriers, ease restrictions on foreign companies and crack down on piracy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on Thursday rejected the U.S. allegations.

Mr. Kong says China has reduced overall tariffs and stepped up piracy controls. He says new legislation is in place that is in line with China's commitments. He also says new steps have been taken to improve transparency.

U.S. officials, however, have charged that, while laws have been put on the books, China is not doing enough to convict those who pirate items - everything from compact discs to airplane parts and pharmaceuticals.

Taking steps to protect intellectual property rights and dismantle trade barriers were among the things China promised to do when it joined the World Trade Organization two years ago.

The U.S. Commerce Department this week announced it plans to form a task force to investigate what U.S. officials say are unfair Chinese trade practices. And next week, it will issue a report in which it is expected to accuse China of failing to ease trade restrictions.

A rising U.S.-China trade deficit is providing fuel for political jousting in the United States ahead of next year's presidential elections.

The Bush administration is vowing - among other measures - to push China on relaxing its controls on its currency, the yuan. American trade unions, manufacturers, and others say an undervalued Chinese currency is cheating Americans out of jobs by making Chinese products artificially cheap.

China says it has no immediate plans to remove the currency peg, saying a stable monetary unit is essential to its growth. The communist nation's economic output has at least quadrupled over the past two decades. The Chinese government estimates this year's growth will exceed seven percent. Many economists believe this number is exaggerated, but concede that China's economy is one of the fastest growing in the world.