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September 12, 2009

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Wu warns Obama on protectionism

CHINA'S chief legislator has called for better economic cooperation with the United States and the removal of trade barriers protecting US industries from foreign competition.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, met with President Barack Obama and top US lawmakers on Thursday during what was the first official visit to the United States made by a Chinese top legislator in the past two decades.

Wu told Obama that China is ready to work with the US to handle bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective.

Obama said he looks forward to meeting with President Hu Jintao during the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York and during his visit to China in November.

A strong US-China strategic partnership is not only in the interests of the two countries but also in the interests of the world, Obama said.

In a speech to business leaders in Washington on Thursday, Wu said China will continue to boost domestic demand and seek growth driven more by consumption to play its part in hastening a global economic recovery.

He said a joint China-US response to the international financial crisis should be the priority project for the two countries.

"We should increase communication and coordination on macroeconomic and financial policies and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in earnest," Wu said.

He said China's economic growth was intimately linked with the fortunes of the world. But he also warned that differences should not be used as "excuses to interfere in other countries' internal affairs or contain other countries' development."

"We should remove all forms of trade and investment barriers (and) properly handle economic and trade frictions and disputes between the two sides," Wu said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a dinner welcoming Wu on Thursday that China and the US bear a heavy responsibility to cooperate in solving the world's toughest problems.

Clinton said the Obama administration considers building a strong relationship with China a central goal. The countries, she said, must cooperate on nuclear issues of North Korea and Iran, climate change, nonproliferation, pandemic diseases and poverty reduction.

China and the United States plan to hold talks on counterterrorism and human rights later this year.

Wu said China "could not achieve development in isolation from the rest of the world, and world prosperity and stability would not be possible without China."

He cautioned that China is still a developing country, with millions living in poverty, and people on China's coast are much more prosperous than those living inland. He also spoke of China's "huge population, weak economic foundation and development imbalances between urban and rural areas."


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