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US Debt, Europe Crisis Among Issues at China Talks

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William Ide

Chinese officials say the debt crisis in Europe as well as concerns about the U.S. economy will be among a wide range of issues at high-level security and economic talks next week in Beijing.

China's assistant finance minister, Zhu Guangyao, says the situation in Europe is not only a challenge for eurozone countries, but for the entire international financial system.

Speaking at a news conference to preview the upcoming talks, Zhu says next week's U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in Beijing will be a chance for both countries to discuss ways they can work together to help stabilize the global economy.

Zhu says the upcoming discussions will take a strategic, global, and long-term approach toward major issues concerning China-U.S. economic relations.

He also says that China will look to coordinate its economic policies with the United States as a buffer against challenges to the global economic system.

Zhu says there will be discussions about China's currency policy and calls for it to appreciate the Chinese yuan, but downplayed the prominence Beijing would give to the topic during the meetings Monday and Tuesday.

Zhu says China will not push forward with reform of its currency because of external pressure.  On the contrary, he says external pressure and noise can do nothing but slow down the reform process.

Manufacturers in the United States and members of Congress blame China for the massive U.S. trade deficit and huge losses of American manufacturing jobs.  They say China unfairly manipulates the value of the yuan to give Chinese-made products a price advantage on world markets.

Beijing says the U.S. problems grow out of overspending, a lack of savings and other shortcomings.

Assistant Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao says China is also concerned about the high U.S. fiscal deficit and the gradual realization of fiscal sustainability.  He says this is an issue Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have exchanged opinions on many times.

Zhu says that during next week's meetings, China will urge the United States to reflect on what has happened in Europe and look at its own fiscal situation.

China is the largest holder of U.S. debt.  It holds nearly $900 billion and added to that pile in March, the first time in seven months.

Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai says China hopes the discussions will help improve ties between the two countries.

Cui says China hopes the discussions will deepen mutual understanding and increase mutual strategic trust as well as strengthen cooperation and coordination between both countries and in the international arena.

Beginning earlier this year, U.S.-China relations were buffeted by a string of events, including concerns about Internet freedom and the censorship of Google in China, Washington's approval of an arms sale to Taiwan, and President Barack Obama's meeting with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Concerns about trade and the Chinese currency continue to test ties.

But, analysts note that relations began showing signs of warming when Chinese President Hu Jintao traveled to Washington last month to attend Mr. Obama's nuclear security summit.  They say that trend continues and note China's decision earlier this week to support United Nations sanctions against Iran after months of foot dragging.

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