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EU Urges China to Consider Changing Monetary Policy

European Union officials are urging China to open its markets and reduce trade barriers.

European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy says China should consider pegging its currency, the yuan, to a currency basket. His remarks Friday came a day after a European Union delegation held its sixth annual summit with Chinese leaders.

Mr. Lamy's statements on China's currency echoed those of the United States, where anger is growing among manufacturers and labor unions, which argue that an artificially low yuan is giving Chinese products an unfair competitive advantage.

The EU officials took a softer approach than that of the United States, saying Europe believes China should consider making gradual changes in its monetary policy.

The gentler approach appeared to reflect the mood of the meeting, with officials claiming a new high in relations between China and Europe. They are each other's third largest trading partner, and both appear eager to expand the relationship.

With a 19-gun salute, Chinese leaders on Friday welcomed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Mr. Berlusconi holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. At a meeting with President Hu Jintao Thursday, he signed agreements expanding trade and technology ties, and people-to-people contacts.

European Commission Spokeswoman Isabel Ramallo says one important agreement will allow China's participation in Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system.

"… The fact that China does participate with us on equal footing in this very important project symbolizes how far we have gone in trusting each other and in sharing information with each other," she said.

The United States opposes China's participation in the program, which rivals the U.S. Global Positioning Satellite system.

Also on the agenda at the summit was the thorny issue of human rights, although discussion of the matter was limited. EU officials say they brought up their concerns about China's rights record, but not in detail. They say they will discuss the matter in a separate dialogue.