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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

Last updated on: January 20, 2011 18:07 IST

Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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US President Barack Obama has called for a spirit of constructive cooperation and healthy competition with China, as differences with Beijing on key global and bilateral issues remained even after his meeting with President Hu Jintao at the White House.

"As we look to the future, what's needed, I believe, is a spirit of cooperation that is also friendly competition," Obama said at a joint White House news conference with Hu. The positive, constructive, cooperative US-China relationship is good for both the countries, he said.

"Cooperation between our countries is also good for the world. Along with our G20 partners, we've moved from the brink of catastrophe to the beginning of global economic recovery.

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Image: US President Barack Obama with Chinese President Hu.
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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In other areas, well compete - a healthy competition that spurs both countries to innovate and become even more competitive," Obama said.

"That's the kind of relationship I see for the United States and China in the 21st century, and that's the kind of relationship that we advanced today," he said.

The two countries also announced dozens of deals that will increase US exports by more than $45 billion and also increase China's investment in the United States by several billion dollars.

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Image: Chinese students wave national flags to greet Chinese President Hu Jintao in US.
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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"From machinery to software, from aviation to agriculture, these deals will support some 235,000 American jobs. And that includes many manufacturing jobs. So this is great news for America's workers," Obama said.

"I did also stress to President Hu that there has to be a level playing field for American companies competing in China, that trade has to be fair. So I welcomed his commitment that American companies will not be discriminated against when they compete for Chinese government procurement contracts. I appreciate his willingness to take new steps to combat the theft of intellectual property," he said.

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Image: US President Barack Obama raises a glass to toast President of China Hu Jintao at a State Dinner.
Photographs: Jim Young/Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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Chinese currency remains undervalued: Obama

President Barack Obama has said the Chinese currency continues to remain undervalued, thus indicating that even a US-China summit meeting has not been able to resolve the differences between the two on alleged manipulation of Yuan by Beijing. "I told President Hu (Jintao) that we welcome China's increasing the flexibility of its currency.

But I also had to say that the RMB remains undervalued, that there needs to be further adjustment in the exchange rate and that this can be a powerful tool for China boosting domestic demand and lessening the inflationary pressures in their economy," Obama said at a joint news conference with his Chinese counterpart at the White House.

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Image: China's President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama shake hands in the Oval Office.
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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Hu is on a four-day State visit to the United States. The Renminbi (RMB) is the official currency of China. "We'll continue to look for the value of China's currency to be increasingly driven by the market, which will help ensure that no nation has an undue economic advantage," Obama said.

Responding to reporter's questions later, Obama identified currency issue as part of the larger problem with China. "The RMB is undervalued.

The Chinese government has intervened very forcefully in the currency markets. They've spent $200 billion just recently, and that's an indication of the degree to which it's still undervalued. President Hu has indicated he's committed to moving towards a market-based system. And there has been movement, but it's not as fast as we want," Obama said.

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Image: A wallet cover bearing an image of President Barack Obama's face in Beijing.
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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"What I've said to President Hu, and I firmly believe this, is not only will US businesses be able to export more to China if we have a market-based currency, but it will also be good for China and President Hu's agenda of expanding domestic demand, because if the RMB is worth more, that means they can buy more products and services, and that will contribute to China having greater purchasing power and a higher standard of living," he argued.

"So this is something that can be a win-win. President Hu's concerned, understandably, about how rapid this transition takes and the disruptions that may occur in its export sector; but I'm confident that it's the right thing to do, and my hope and expectation is, is that President Hu's resolve will lead to a fully market-based currency program that will allow more effective trade between our two countries," he said.

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Image: An employee counts Yuan banknotes at the Suining City Commercial Bank in Suining.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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Later a joint statement said China would intensifyefforts to expand domestic demand, to promote private investment in the service sector, and to give greater play to the fundamental role of the market in resource allocation.

"China will continue to promote RMB exchange rate reform and enhance RMB exchange rate flexibility, and promote the transformation of its economic development model," it said.

"The United States and China agree that currencies in the SDR basket should only be those that are heavily used in international trade and financial transactions. In that regard, the United States supports China's efforts over time to promote inclusion of the RMB in the SDR (Special Drawing Rights) basket," the joint statement said.

Ahead of the meeting, several US lawmakers had urged Obama to effectively take up the issue of alleged Chinese currency manipulation with HU.

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Image: The label reading Made in China on a sweatshirt.
Photographs: Brian Snyder/Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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Senators Charles Schumer, Debbie Stabenow and Bob Casey, alleged that the Chinese currency manipulation is like a "boot on the throat of US economic recovery" and announced their decision to introduce legislation "vigorously addresses" such alleged currency misalignments that unfairly and negatively impact US trade.

"China's policy of currency manipulation forces Michigan companies into unfair competition, with Chinese goods priced as much as 40 per cent lower because of their undervalued currency," Schumer said.

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Image: A US dollar note (L) and a Chinese Yuan banknote are seen through a pair of spectacles.
Photographs: Nicky Loh/Reuters.
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Obama calls for healthy competition with China

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"This legislation will require the US government to get tough on China's unfair trade practices that are hurting our economy and costing us jobs," he said.

Also Senators Sherrod Brown and Olympia Snowe, wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announcing their intention to introduce a legislation to address Chinas unlawful practice of currency manipulation.

"China's actions to subsidise its exports through currency manipulation pose both immediate and long-term challenges to American manufacturers and workers still recovering from the economic recession," they said.


Image: An employee at production line in Suzhou Etron Electronics Co in Suzhou.
Photographs: Aly Song/Reuters.
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