Chinese Leader: 'We're Poor And Pose No Threat’

Some U.S. lawmakers think China keeps the value of its currency artificially low, giving Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage.

BEIJING (Kyodo) - A senior Chinese leader told U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and watching reporters Tuesday that her country is still poor and does not pose a threat to anyone.
Vice Premier Wu Yi's comments came at the start of talks with Paulson, who is hoping China will take further steps to raise the value of its currency and reduce its huge trade surplus with the United States.
Wu said she was glad Paulson had visited the poor western province of Qinghai on Monday before starting talks in Beijing so he could understand the huge task China is facing in developing the country.
''China still has areas as developmentally backward as Qinghai. China still has 23 million people living in poverty. China's very goal in its development is so that its 1.3 billion people can eat their fill, dress warmly and live well. Who could we threaten?'' she said. ''We don't have the ability. China does not and will never threaten anyone,'' she added.
Wu said she hoped Paulson's experiences in Qinghai will help him brief the U.S. Congress where there is strong concern about the U.S. trade imbalance with China.
Reporters were ushered out of the room before Paulson could make any remarks in reply.
He is due to meet President Hu Jintao on Wednesday.
Some U.S. lawmakers think China is keeping the value of its currency artificially low, giving Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage over their American counterparts.
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee passed a bill last week aimed at punishing countries such as China that are deemed to be keeping their currencies below market value.
The United States estimates that its trade deficit with China had reached more than $232 billion by the end of last year as inexpensive Chinese imports continue to flood into the country.
Paulson told reporters before the talks in Beijing that he hoped trade tensions between the two countries could be solved through dialogue and economic reforms, rather than punitive legislation.
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