China, US economic talks open

XIANGHE, China, Dec 12, 2007 (AFP) – Twice-yearly economic talks between China and the United States began here on Wednesday with the Chinese currency and the world powers’ ballooning trade imbalance again under the spotlight. The two days of talks began at a sprawling convention centre an hour’s drive southeast of Beijing, following complaints and demands from both sides about the tensions that have accompanied their fast-expanding trade ties.

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was due to give his delegation’s opening remarks on Wednesday morning, with Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi to outline China’s position.

US President George W. Bush’s administration is under increasing domestic pressure to get tougher with China over the ever-growing bilateral trade imbalance.

The US trade deficit with China hit 23.8 billion dollars in September, up 5.5 percent from August, according to the latest US figures.

Critics in the United States blame what they say is a wealth of unfair trade practices from China for the deficit, including keeping the currency, the yuan, at an artificially weak level.

China, meanwhile, has complained about rising protectionism in the United States.
The two sides will hold meetings through