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US Told Not to Politicize Trade Issue
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China is willing to work with the United States to seek a balance in their trade, but it will not help if political elements are embedded in the issue, a top Chinese legislator said yesterday.

Cheng Siwei, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said China and the United States should ease frictions in their trade ties and find a win-win solution through consultations.

"We are equal partners and we should deal with the problem calmly, don't politicize it," Cheng told a Sino-US trade forum.

Cheng's remarks came amidst the backdrop of rising criticism against China in the United States, which last week reported an all-time-high trade deficit of US$725.8 billion for 2005. Congressmen are pressuring the Bush administration to find fault with China, with which the United States registered an annual deficit of US$201.6 billion, the largest ever recorded with a single country.

US senators Byron Dorgan and Lindsey Graham introduced legislation last week to repeal the normal trade relations status between the two countries.

The US Congress granted China permanent normal trade relations status in 2000, paving the way for its entry to the World Trade Organization.

Another piece of legislation proposes to impose across-the-board tariffs of 27.5 percent on Chinese imports unless Beijing revalues its currency.

Cheng admitted that China has a big trade surplus with the United States, but clarified that it is not the country's aim.

"What we should bear in mind is that both sides reap benefits from trade cooperation," he said.

He quoted a study by US investment bank Morgan Stanley estimating that US consumers had saved US$600 billion in the past decade by buying cheaper goods made in China.

China had also used a significant chunk of foreign exchange reserves, partly earnings from its trade surplus, to buy US bonds. At the end of 2005, China held US$300 billion in US treasury bonds.

Cheng called on the United States to help reduce its deficit with China by relaxing restrictions on high-tech exports only 10 percent of China's high-tech imports come from the United States.

"I would say if you could sell a space shuttle to China, the situation would be greatly improved," Cheng said. "That's a joke. But China has to be allowed to buy more than Boeing airplanes."

Vice-Minister of Commerce Yi Xiaozhun told the forum that China had done a lot to reduce the trade deficit, with imports from the United States witnessing the highest growth in 2005.

China reported that its surplus with the United States last year was US$114.2 billion. Using different statistical standards caused the discrepancy with the US figure.

(China Daily February 15, 2006)

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