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Obama vows 'much tougher' stance on US-China trade

February 5, 2010

BBC
February 4, 2010

President Barack Obama says he will be much
tougher with China to make sure it opens its markets to trade with the US.

Mr Obama told Democratic Party senators that he
would put "constant pressure" on China and other
countries to stick to their side of trade agreements.

But he said he did not intend to take a
protectionist stance towards China, warning that
"to close ourselves off from that market would be a mistake".

Tension between the US and China has increased over arms sales to Taiwan.

Relations have also been strained by reports of
Chinese cyber attacks on US-run websites and a
planned visit to the US by the Dalai Lama.

Earlier, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman
warned Mr Obama that meeting the Dalai Lama would further erode ties.

"We urge the US to fully grasp the high
sensitivity of the Tibetan issues, to prudently
and appropriately deal with related matters, and
avoid bringing further damage to China-US relations," Ma Zhaoxu said.

Exchange rates

At a meeting with Senate Democrats, Mr Obama was
asked whether the US would cut ties with Beijing over ongoing trade disputes.

The president said he would continue to make sure
that China and other countries lived up to abide
by trade agreements, but warned it would be a
mistake for the US to become protectionist.

"The approach that we're taking is to try to get
much tougher about the enforcement of existing
rules, putting constant pressure on China and
other countries to open up their markets in reciprocal ways," he said.

"But what I don't want to do is for us as a
country or as a party, to shy away from the
prospects of international competition."

"Our future is going to be tied up with our
ability to sell products all around the world,
and China is going to be one of our biggest markets," he added.

Mr Obama also said foreign exchange rates would
also be checked to ensure countries were not
giving themselves an unfair advantage against the dollar.

"One of the challenges that we've got to address
internationally is currency rates and how they
match up to make sure that our goods are not
artificially inflated in price and their goods
are artificially deflated in price," he explained.

The BBC's Imtiaz Tyab in Washington says the
president did not specifically mention the
Chinese yuan, but the US has long pushed for
Beijing to let its currency appreciate in value.
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