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China Rebuffs EU Calls to Let Yuan Rise


China's Premier Wen Jiabao (R) shakes hands with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt before the 12th EU-China summit in Nanjing, 30 Nov 2009

Premier Wen Jiabao says China will take its own, gradual steps on currency reform.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has rejected an appeal from European leaders for faster currency reforms that would allow the Chinese yuan to rise in value. Mr. Wen's comments came after summit talks with the European Union.

Premier Wen Jiabao says China will take its own, gradual steps on currency reform, but for now, Beijing is more concerned with keeping the yuan, also known as the renminbi, broadly steady.

Mr. Wen says China will act to maintain the stability of the renminbi at what he describes as a "reasonable and balanced level."

The Chinese leader also said Monday that demands on Beijing to push up the yuan's exchange rate are not fair.

He says some countries that want the yuan to appreciate engage in what he described as "brazen trade protectionism against China" at the same time.

He did not mention any country by name. But China and the United States have been engaged in trade disputes over recent U.S. decisions to levy tariffs on Chinese goods like steel pipes and tires.

Since last July, China has held its currency to around 6.83 to the dollar to help its exporters weather the global credit crunch.

Mr. Wen made his comments when he and European leaders spoke to reporters Monday after their summit in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing.

Climate change was high on the agenda for their meeting.

Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, called on governments to make even greater efforts to address climate change.

"We need to stop the increase of global warming at two degrees, and so far, our belief is that the global efforts put on the table for mitigation is not enough to secure that we do not exceed the two degree target," said Mr. Reinfeldt. "So, more needs to be done."

Mr. Wen says China is serious about its efforts to combat climate change.

China recently vowed to cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with levels in 2005.

Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases scientists believe contribute to global warming. While China's pledge will slow the pace of its emissions, it will not result in emissions that are lower than current levels.

Governments meet next week in Copenhagen to try to negotiate an agreement on cutting emissions and slowing global warming. It is not clear that they will succeed in reaching a binding agreement.