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Chinese President Visits Washington


Trade is likely to dominate the agenda when President Bush meets President Hu Jintao at the White House on Thursday. American politicians say Beijing deliberately undervalues its currency, which contributes to the growing U.S. trade deficit with China.

To get a perspective from someone who covers these issues in China, we turn to Lin Shao-wen. He's the deputy newsroom director at China Radio International--that's a state-run news agency that broadcasts around the world. I ask him if he expects the Chinese government will change its policy on currency any time soon.

Mr. LIN SHAO-WEN (Deputy Newsroom Director, China Radio International): The government here is saying that this is a market economy so it will take some measures to work for a manageable, freer flow of the exchange rate. But it's to be decided by a package of foreign currency that is decided on the market. And secondly, the trade friction; the U.S. may come to its calculation of a huge number, 202 billion U.S.-dollars. But the Chinese calculation is only just 114. Also, China is complaining that it's not caused by China refusing to open its market further to U.S. products. It's complaining that it's the U.S. that's restricting high-tech products exporting to China.

And I'd like to say that 60 percent of the exports were mainly earned by international conglomerates operating in China, including American business leaders here in China.

MONTAGNE: Turning to another aspect of China's growing economy. It's led China to befriend nations that the U.S. is very unhappy with. China is interested in Zimbabwe's gold and platinum. With Sudan and Iran, it's mostly oil. Is China at all concerned about that political aspect of some its allies?

Mr. WEN: Well, China's principle stance is always respect the differences of either political-economic systems of other countries, regardless of whether we like it or not. So just interested doing real business with other countries, so long as benefits both sides. And so long as doesn't threatens the interest of third countries. So that's why China goes along with its agreements with different countries, including those countries the U.S. might be not happy with.

MONTAGNE: Well, in the case of Iran it's not just the U.S., It's European Union. It's the United Nations. And China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Counsel.

Mr. WEN: Mm-hmm.

MONTAGNE: So its relationship with Iran is quite important for the international community.

Mr. WEN: Well, China certainly had high interests of Iranian oil and energy. But at the same time, the nuclear issue is so crucial. And China doesn't believe military action may help resolve the issue. So that's why it's calling Iran not to, say, reactivating those generators. And also, asking the Europeans and the Americans negotiators not to come up with any action that may push Iran further into the hardline.

MONTAGNE: Just one final question. President Hu and President Bush have met several times. What does that mean for the relationship between China and the U.S.?

Mr. WEN: Well, if leaders meet often, if they see eye-to-eye, then there is a growing chemistry. And relations will be much easier. And that may help the two sides understand the different way of thinking of the other side. And it may help solve some of the problems. At least, if cannot solve the fundamental problems, it can help the one side to have a better understanding of why the other side disagrees over something.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. WEN: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: Lin Chow Wen is deputy director of news at China Radio International. He spoke with us from Beijing.

You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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