President Bush Thursday told Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi the United States will be closely watching to see if China allows its currency to rise against the dollar. VOA's Barry Wood reports.

President Bush made clear that he greatly values the deepening U.S.-China trade relationship. But he emphasized the need to remedy an imbalance that is deeply in China's favor. He also stressed the need for China to loosen its strict control of the currency and allow it to rise against the dollar.

"I emphasized to Madame Wu Yi as well as to the delegation that we will be watching very carefully as to whether or not they will appreciate their currency," said President Bush. "And that is all in the context of making it clear to China that we value their relationship, but that a $233 - billion trade deficit must be addressed."

Wu Yi and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson presided over two days of a strategic economic dialogue that brought together more than 12 cabinet secretaries (ministers) from the two countries. Aside from an expanded commercial air agreement there were few tangible results from the meeting. The dialogue will be resumed in Beijing in December.

During their stay, the Chinese delegates met with members of Congress, many of whom are frustrated by the growing trade imbalance. America has become very reliant on imports of consumer goods from China and politicians hear complaints that cheap imports are taking away American jobs.

Citing unfair trade practices, several measures soon to be considered in Congress would impose penalties on Chinese products. While opposed by the Bush administration the measures are gaining support and experts say they could become law within the next six months. China has the largest overall trade surplus in history while the United States has the largest deficit.