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Trade, Currency and Software Piracy on Agenda for US Visit by Chinese President

Chinese President Hu Jintao came to the U.S. on a whirlwind visit dealing with issues crucial to the continued trade between both countries. But as VOA's Mil Arcega reports, advance preparation by a Chinese delegation a week before Mr. Hu's visit may have eased some U.S. concerns.

President Hu's first stop was Seattle, Washington, where former state governor Gary Locke said many American businesses are eager to work with China.

"Energy efficiency companies, architectural, engineering companies that can help China clean up its environment. Research institutions, like Fred Hutch -- with Nobel prize winners, can help meet the medical needs of China," said Mr. Locke.

Despite their willingness to do business, some American companies and political leaders have concerns about China's growing economic influence. Critics say currency manipulation and unfair restrictions to Chinese markets are responsible in part for the growing trade imbalance between the two countries, which hit a new high of 202 billion dollars last year.

Shi Yinhong, a professor at Renmin University in Beijing, says relations between the two countries have not always been smooth, but there is now a greater willingness to deal.

"Compared with the past, China has become much, much more important to the United States, and the United States also has become much, much more important to China. This is a huge change in the past 10 years"

That willingness to deal is evident in what some analysts have called China's “checkbook diplomacy”—a willingness to spend money to influence policy.

Last week, Chinese officials and businesses signed contracts with U.S. companies worth more than 16 billion dollars. Among the bigger recipients – Seattle-based software giant Microsoft and aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which signed a deal to build 80 of its model 737 jets.

Despite the investment in U.S. companies and concessions aimed at easing the trade gap, some analysts say the meeting between President Hu and U.S. President George Bush could have a hard edge.

Randall Schriver is a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

"We do have a president who can't afford to be pushed around by anybody, least of which, the Chinese, and we've got an election year, of course, upon us."

Along with trade issues, the two leaders are also expected to discuss human rights and China's position nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.