SHANGHAI (AP) — U.S. lawmakers urged China to tackle currency reforms, among other rankling trade issues, in talks with their Chinese counterparts that also included such contentious areas as Taiwan and Iran’s nuclear program, Sen. Patty Murray said Friday.
Murray, a Washington state Democrat, warned Chinese lawmakers in interparliamentary talks that members of Congress face strong pressure to look after their constituents, especially given the weakness of the U.S. recovery so far.
“Helping grow our economy again and getting those jobs back and getting the economic security we once had, we have to have open, fair and good trade with countries like China,” Murray said, following a visit to Beijing and Shanghai.
Murray, who attended the talks with fellow senators Roland Burris, a Democrat from Illinois, and Kit Bond, a Republican from Missouri, said she did not expect punitive legislation proposed by some U.S. lawmakers to be enacted in the near future.
Critics of China’s currency policies contend that Beijing keeps the Chinese yuan undervalued, giving its exports a price advantage and adding to the country’s massive trade surpluses.
“The currency issues are legitimate,” Murray said.
“They need to deal with that or they will see a growing focus in the United States for legislation that would be difficult for both of us to deal with,” she said.
Murray said the talks also touched on North Korea and Iran, where Beijing has played a mediating role.
The U.S. side also spoke out against a new Chinese government purchasing plan that gives priority to goods that use Chinese intellectual property, a business worth tens of billions of dollars, Murray said. That plan requires sellers of high-tech products to have them accredited based on “indigenous innovation.”
“Policies like that that are spelled out that way and become barriers to them will mean that the Chinese themselves won’t get access to very important innovation and job creation,” she said.
“They were defensive,” Murray said of the Chinese response. “I’m not surprised about that. I also know that if you don’t bring it up and say this is important to us then there won’t be any changes and they won’t recognize that.”
But the sharpest area of disagreement was over Taiwan, she said.
Beijing has blasted Washington’s approval of a $6.5 billion arms package for Taiwan, a self-governing island democracy that China considers its own territory, that includes helicopters, PAC-3 air defense missiles, and a possible design study for building submarines.
A Chinese missile test on Monday is already being interpreted as a deliberate show of anger over the sale, according to analysts.
While past talks tended to be more reserved, younger Chinese lawmakers seem more “passionate,” Murray said.
All understood, she said, that “there are core issues in China and core issues in the United States that we will always disagree on.”