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'Politicized' economic ties top worry: Wang

10 may 2011, 18:26
China's vice premier, Wang Qishan, said Monday he is worried that his country's economic relationship with the United States will be strangled by politics, AFP reports.

"My biggest worry is that economic relations between China and the United States become politicized," Wang, a top-ranking Chinese policymaker, said in an interview with Charlie Rose on US public television.

"This is my biggest concern because once economic issues are politicized, they're no longer economic issues," he said, according to the interview transcript released in advance of the broadcast.

Wang, who is co-leading the Chinese team at annual bilateral talks in Washington that opened Monday, warned that the relationship of the world's two largest economies is at stake.

"We face a lot of opportunities. If economic issues... become political ones, such opportunities of cooperation may well be lost," he said.

"So the most important thing for the two of us to do is to depoliticize the economic issues and see economic relations between China and the US as they are."

Wang, appearing with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a joint interview on the Charlie Rose show, brought up the thorny issue of China's currency, the yuan.

The United States accuses China of deliberately keeping the yuan undervalued to gain a trade advantage that has produced a record trade surplus with the US.

"Take the exchange rate, a very simple issue, as an example," said Wang, who heads the Chinese team on the economic side of the talks.

"It seems to me that somehow the Americans have a view, believing that China’s trade surplus was all caused by the manipulation of its exchange rate. And China became a big trading country in the world simply by manipulating its currencies.

"Actually, this is a very politicized argument. And for all those people who really understand what the exchange rate is really about, they would not say so."

Geithner, who is co-chairing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the US side of in the two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue, had declared the exchange rate a top priority for the talks.

Geithner told Rose: "I think the vice premier is right that you can't look at this economic relationship just (through) the prism of the exchange rate.

"Obviously, it's important for China that the exchange rate move up over time, as it is. And of course, we'd like it to be faster."

Wang said that inflation was China's most pressing problem.

"It is the biggest problem we are going to tackle this year in China. In order to do this, we have to use monetary policy, fiscal policy, and at the same time, economic restructuring," he said.

"And on top of that, against the backdrop of tremendous inflation pressure here in China, another thing we have to bear in mind is to insure the livelihood of the people with the lowest income."

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