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US Treasury Secretary: Chinese Economic Expansion Should Be Welcomed

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says Americans should not fear China's growing economic clout, but rather see it as an opportunity that can benefit both China and the United States, if the two countries forge a successful strategic economic relationship in the years ahead. VOA's Michael Bowman has details form Washington.

The last decade has seen China emerge as a global economic powerhouse, with astonishing growth rates averaging nearly 10 percent a year and large trade surpluses. Some economists say, by the middle of this century, China's economic output could match or possibly exceed that of the United States.

Given a slowing U.S. economy, the loss of American manufacturing jobs overseas, and America's reliance on China to help finance the growing U.S. national debt, polls show many Americans apprehensive about the current trajectory of U.S.-Chinese economic relations.

Treasury Secretary Paulson says Americans should not feel threatened by China's economic success.

"Frankly, China's economic growth is important to global economic growth, and is a positive for the United States. The real concern should be, if China stumbles or has problems along the way, and that this hurts global markets, the global economy, hurts our economy," he said.

Paulson was speaking in a conference call with reporters. He made a similar argument in an article appearing in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. In the article, Paulson urged the next U.S. president to expand the U.S.-China strategic economic dialogue, which began two years ago, and provides a regular forum for officials of both nations to address issues of mutual economic concern.

Paulson says there are many areas where the United States and China can cooperate. As an example, he pointed to energy and environmental matters.

"We have very much of a shared interest in the energy area. We are both very large importers of oil; we share the same energy security issues; we both are hurt by disruptions, and we both benefit if there is more efficiency," he added. "There are a number of ways we can collaborate. And on the environmental issues, we cannot solve climate issues without cooperation and engagement with China and the development of new technologies."

While stressing the positive aspects of a deepening U.S.-Chinese economic relationship, Paulson is urging China to allow its currency to appreciate, to allow its citizens to spend more freely, to reduce restrictions on foreign investment, and to better protect intellectual property rights.