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US Lawmakers to Press Beijing to Revalue Currency


Three U.S. Senators will travel to China next week to urge Chinese officials to revalue the country's currency. The trip comes ahead of a Senate vote on legislation that would impose high tariffs on Chinese goods if the Beijing government does not take action.

Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, will join Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, on the week-long trip beginning Sunday.

Schumer says he and his fellow senators will express their concerns to Chinese officials that the value of China's currency, the yuan, is being held artificially low to give Chinese products an unfair advantage in U.S. markets.

"When they keep their currency artificially low, Chinese exports get an unfair advantage; American exporters get an unfair disadvantage," said Mr. Schumer. "The playing field is not level. That must change. We plan to take that message face to face to the highest levels of government and business in China."

Graham echoed those comments.

"The Chinese government needs to understand that from all corners of this country, the frustration with our trading practices is to a boiling point. The only way to relieve the pressure is to have an honest discussion and real dialogue about relieving the pressure," he said. "The burden in my opinion falls on the Chinese more than it does us."

Graham and Schumer will also travel to Shanghai for meetings with Chinese business leaders and to Hong Kong to discuss port security issues with officials there.

The trip comes ahead of a March 31 deadline for a Senate vote on legislation sponsored by Schumer and Graham that would impose high tariffs on imported Chinese products unless Beijing agrees to allow its currency to rise in value.

The measure is one of several that reflect concern over what many lawmakers call China's unfair trade practices. One bill calls for revoking normal trade relations with China.

U.S. and Chinese officials are to meet in Washington next month to try to resolve a number of trade disputes, including one relating to China's piracy of U.S. intellectual property. That meeting is scheduled just days before a summit between President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House.