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March 20, 2010

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China bids to cool US tensions via envoy

CHINA is sending a Cabinet official to Washington in a bid to defuse trade tensions, the government said yesterday, as it called on US leaders to cool the "politicization" of a currency dispute.

Vice Commerce Minister Zhong Shan will visit the United States from March 24 to 26 for discussions focused on the Sino-US trade balance and trade frictions.

"A lot of problems can be properly solved so long as we can avoid politicization and emotionalization," He Ning, head of the Commerce Ministry's North American division, told reporters in Beijing. "It should not be one side pressing the other side."

But demands by the US Congress that China revalue the yuan, which it has held near 6.83 per dollar since the global credit crunch struck in mid-2008, will stand in the way of dialogue, He said.

"This will make the whole situation more complex, imposing an external disturbance on our normal channels of communication," He said. "That's a trend that we do not want to see."

China says the ongoing currency stability has benefited the global economic recovery. US lawmakers say it is an unfair subsidy for made-in-China goods that has "stolen American jobs."

A semi-annual US Treasury report due on April 15 could label China a "currency manipulator," threatening a deepening rift between the world's biggest and third-biggest economies.

Morgan Stanley Asia chairman Stephen Roach said yesterday it was ironic for the US to blame China's currency for its high unemployment rate and trade deficit.


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