Beijing Wants U.S. Trade Barriers Removed

Chinese chief legislator called for removal of trade barriers protecting U.S. industries from foreign competition, saying it could hurt China's economic growth.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- China's chief legislator on Thursday called for better economic cooperation with the United States and the removal of trade barriers protecting U.S. industries from foreign competition.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, met with President Barack Obama and top U.S. lawmakers during what he said was the first visit to the United States by a leader of China's Congress in 20 years.

He said China's economic growth was intimately linked with the fortunes of the world. But he also warned that differences should not be used as "excuses to interfere in other countries' internal affairs or contain other countries' development."

"We should remove all forms of trade and investment barriers (and) properly handle economic and trade frictions and disputes between the two sides," Wu said in a speech at a Washington hotel.

The United States and China are trying to work through tensions over a host of differences, among them trade spats, occasional clashes by the countries' military forces in the Pacific and U.S. criticism of China's human rights.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a dinner welcoming Wu that China and the United States bear a heavy responsibility to cooperate in solving the world's toughest problems.

She avoided U.S. complaints on Chinese trade and human rights practices, focusing instead on the need for better communication and trust between the sometime rivals.

Clinton said the Obama administration considers building a strong relationship with China a central goal. The countries, she said, must cooperate on nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran, climate change, nonproliferation, pandemic diseases and poverty reduction.

The countries plan counterterrorism and human rights talks later this year.

Wu said that China "could not achieve development in isolation from the rest of the world, and world prosperity and stability would not be possible without China."

He cautioned that China is still a developing country, with millions living in poverty and people on China's coast much more prosperous than those living inland. He spoke of China's "huge population, weak economic foundation and development imbalances between urban and rural areas."

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