BEIJING, China – A top Chinese economic official appealed to U.S. envoys for co-operation at trade talks Monday to revive the global economy, emphasizing shared goals instead of disputes over currency and other irritants that divide them.
The U.S. commerce secretary warned at the meeting that attitudes toward trade ties with China are worsening in Washington.
“We are facing a very serious global economic crisis,” said Vice Premier Wang Qishan at the meeting in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu. “Ensuring economic health is the responsibility of every nation. Unbalanced progress is better than balanced decline.”
Leaders of the world’s biggest and second-biggest economies have pledged to work together to shore up global growth but ties have been strained by complaints about China’s exchange-rate controls and access to its markets. Beijing is uneasy about Washington’s moves to expand its political and military presence in Asia.
Trade is especially sensitive at a time of high U.S. unemployment and American hopes to revive economic growth by boosting exports.
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The U.S.-Chinese Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade, which meets twice a year, is aimed at defusing trade tensions by focusing on individual policy disputes. Previous meetings have produced pledges by Beijing to lower barriers to imports of American beef and to fight rampant Chinese software piracy.
This week’s meeting comes amid mounting demands by some American lawmakers for punitive tariffs on Chinese goods if Beijing fails to ease controls they say keeps its yuan undervalued and gives its exporters an unfair trade advantage.
“Many in the U.S., including the business community and the Congress, are moving toward a more negative view of our trading relationship,” U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson told Wang and Chinese officials.
The meeting’s agenda includes trade and investment, agricultural products and quality inspection, technology and standards and intellectual property rights.
President Barack Obama pressed Premier Wen Jiabao, China’s top economic official, over Beijing’s currency controls in a meeting last week on the sidelines of an Asian economic regional gathering in Indonesia.
The U.S. trade deficit with China hit a monthly high of $29 billion in August and is on track to surpass last year’s $273 billion, the highest ever recorded with a single country.