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Wu Yi in US Ahead of 2nd Strategic Economic Dialogue
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Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi landed in Washington Monday morning ahead of the second Strategic Economic Dialogue which she will co-chair with US Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson from Tuesday.

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson greets China's Vice Premier Wu Yi (R) upon her arrival at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, May 21, 2007.

Topics in the second SED meeting will revolve over services, investment and transparency, energy and the environment as well as growth balance and innovation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated.

"China hopes that this meeting will widen common ground with the US, develop cooperation and provide an all-round positive step for our strategic partnership," a ministry spokeswoman said earlier in Beijing.

The Chinese delegation, led by Wu Yi, also comprises senior officials from a dozen government departments, including the Finance Ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Health and the People's Bank of China among others.

The US has also put forward a high-flying line-up with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Originally laid down by President George W. Bush and President Hu Jintao last September, the SED is an avenue which will allow both countries to focus on bilateral and global strategic economic issues. The event is held twice a year, in Beijing and Washington.

It debuted in Beijing last December with the outcome described as satisfactory by both delegations.

Ahead of the talks, Vice-Premier Wu Yi published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, in which she recommended the US lift its hi-tech export embargo to China, a contentious issue that will be high on the agenda of the talks. Wu said this move would go some way towards alleviating the trade imbalance between the two nations, something which has worried the US of late.

Analysts were optimistic about the talks, seeing them as a prime opportunity for the two powers to lay down a foundation of trust between them.

"China fully realizes the importance of the SED in maintaining stable two-way trade relations," said Cao Honghui, visiting scholar with the University of Colombia.

China's currency reform will also be on the table at the economic talks. China's central bank announced on Monday that the yuan's fluctuation band was widened from 0.3 to 0.5 percent a day. Criticisms have flown that China is deliberately undervaluing the yuan, domestic analysts have stated the central government would keep its own counsel in terms of exchange rate reforms.

Since the yuan abandoned its peg to the dollar in July 2005, it has appreciated by around 7 percent, showing its rising clout.

(Xinhua News Agency May 22, 2007)

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