News / Asia

China Rebuffs Obama’s Criticisms on Trade, Currency

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at his news conference at the conclusion of the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii November 13, 2011.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at his news conference at the conclusion of the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii November 13, 2011.

China is pushing back at criticism from U.S. President Barack Obama about Beijing’s currency and trade policies.  Obama says Washington does not want China to take advantage of the United States.  China’s foreign ministry responded hours later by saying Beijing’s economic policies were not the cause of U.S. financial woes.

Beijing denied President Barack Obama's claim China is manipulating the international currency and trade systems in its favor.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin strongly defended his government's currency and foreign investment policies.

Liu says far from trying to keep the yuan artificially low to benefit Chinese companies by making their products cheaper on international markets, Beijing is instead striving to manage a floating exchange rate.  But he says Beijing will do so at its own pace.

Liu says even if the RMB does rise substantially in value, it will not solve the problems facing the United States.

He says America's trade deficit, unemployment and what he describes as "other structural problems" are not caused by China's manipulation of its currency's exchange rate.

President Obama used some of his strongest language yet to demand Beijing obey international investment rules.

After meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao at the APEC summit in Hawaii on Sunday, Mr. Obama said international rules are in place for all nations to follow and to allow them to compete fiercely with each other.

He said the United States will “continue to be firm that China operates by the same rules as everyone else.”

"Their role is different now than it was 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, where if they were breaking some rules, it did not really matter.  It did not have a significant impact, you were not seeing huge trade imbalances that had consequences for the world financial system.  Now, they have grown up and so they are going to have to mange this process in a responsible way," said Obama.

Liu dismissed the President's suggestion that China was behaving immaturely and unfavorably.

He says it is America, not China, that needs to abide by international trade rules.  He calls for Washington to let Chinese companies invest more in the United States.

Liu also insisted that Washington relax restrictions on the export of high tech products to China, claiming this greatly profits U.S. companies.  The United States bans some sophisticated technology sales to China on national security grounds.

Washington is not alone in calling China a currency manipulator.

The European Union also accuses Beijing of keeping its currency artificially low to help make China the world's manufacturing capital and second-biggest economy.

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