Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 1 News List

US and China reach deal over currency, Syria


Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), left, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a joint press conference inside the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday.

Photo: Bloomberg

The US and China have struck a bargain as US President Donald Trump said he would not label Beijing a currency manipulator and voiced confidence that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) would help him deal with North Korea’s mounting threat.

Another result of the diplomacy was a Chinese abstention on a UN resolution condemning a Syrian chemical weapons attack.

In a newspaper interview and a White House news conference on Wednesday, Trump hailed the rapport he developed with Xi during last week’s Florida summit, which seems to have yielded an immediate easing of tensions related to the US-Chinese trade imbalance and efforts to prevent Pyongyang from developing a nuclear missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

“I think he wants to help us with North Korea,” Trump said of Xi, crediting China with taking a “big step” by turning back boats of coal that North Korea sells to its northern neighbor.

North Korea conducts about 90 percent of its trade with China.

In one of the sharpest reverses of his presidency, Trump backed off from a campaign pledge by saying he would not declare China a currency manipulator, an action that could have led to higher tariffs on Chinese goods.

The accusation had formed a basis of Trump’s argument for lost American jobs, on the grounds that an undervalued currency was boosting Chinese exports and leading to artificially low prices, all at US manufacturers’ expense.

“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal earlier on Wednesday, saying the country had not been cheating on its currency for months.

He said a US declaration of Chinese manipulation could jeopardize talks with China on North Korea.

It is rare for US leaders to link trade or currency disputes to broader international security efforts against countries such as North Korea. Trump’s predecessors had largely kept such disputes separate.

Asked if his currency decision was part of an agreement over North Korea, Trump said: “We’re going to see. We’re going to see about that.”

“It is true that China is not a currency manipulator,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said in a statement yesterday. “On the issue of RMB [renminbi] exchange rate, our position is consistent and clear: We will press ahead with the reform of the formation regime of our RMB exchange rate and we will maintain the stability of the RMB at an adaptive and equilibrium level.”

Trump said that trade concessions could be on the table for more cooperation on North Korea.

At a UN Security Council showdown on Wednesday, China abstained rather than joining traditional ally Russia in vetoing a resolution that would have condemned the chemical weapons attack in a northern Syrian town last week.

Trump hailed China’s abstention. Beijing had joined Moscow in vetoing several previous Western-backed resolutions under former US president Barack Obama.

In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump also said he would prefer that the US Federal Reserve keep interest rates relatively low

He left open the possibility of renominating Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for a second four-year term. That would mark another shift from his campaign position that he would probably replace Yellen when her term ends in February next year.

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