A high-powered US delegation was due to converge on China yesterday for landmark talks on economic cooperation but faced mounting pressure back home to wring trade concessions out of their hosts.
Meanwhile, ahead of the visit, US retailer Home Depot Inc signed an agreement yesterday to buy a chain of Chinese home improvement stores and GE Aviation announced a jet engine sale.
The deals were signed at a ceremony attended by US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.
Such deals are frequently announced ahead of US-Chinese meetings as Beijing tries to mollify American critics of its soaring trade surplus with the US.
The two-day meeting in Beijing commences a new twice-yearly "strategic economic dialogue."
But the initiative, aimed at heading off future bumps in the bilateral economic relationship, starts amid a host of existing US concerns over China's trade policies.
In a measure of the weight attached to the meeting by Washington, one-third of the 15 US Cabinet secretaries plus other top officials are due in the Chinese capital for the meetings that begin today.
The US delegation's leader, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, arrived in Beijing yesterday and will be joined by his fellow secretaries of commerce, labor, energy and health and human services and the head of the US central bank.
The US officials will hold talks with Vice Premier Wu Yi (
Paulson unveiled the initiative in September as an opportunity for regular communication on trade and energy issues and other challenges attending China's economic rise.
He warned last week that China's economic reforms have not kept pace with its rising influence on world markets, singling out Chinese controls on its yuan currency, which are blamed for boosting Chinese exports and its trade surplus with the US.
"It might be easier for [China] to say `we're in transition, give us more time,' but they're a global economic leader and the rest of the world isn't going to give them a lot more time," Paulson said.
New US data published on Tuesday showed its trade deficit with China grew 6.1 percent to a record US$24.4 billion in October, representing a whopping 41 percent of the total US gap of US$58.9 billion for the month.
The figures also showed China has surpassed Mexico as the US' second-largest trading partner behind Canada and led some US economists to predict the full-year bilateral trade deficit would soar to US$240 billion, up from last year's record US$202 billion.
"Needless to say, that will create some pressure to get things done, especially with a not-so-friendly Democratic Congress about to exert its unhappiness," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economics in the US.
Meanwhile, China on Wednesday announced a new crackdown on pirated goods, a key source of tension with Washington, ahead of talks with Paulson on currency and other irritants in their thriving trade ties.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
ROAD TO HISTORY: When Lee Teng-hui joined the KMT, the likelihood of a Taiwanese becoming ROC president, much less its first directly elected one, was hard to imagine Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was born on Jan. 15, 1923, in the farming community of Sanshi Village, Taihoku Prefecture — now New Taipei City’s Sanzhi District (三芝) — during the Japanese colonial era, and rose to become mayor of Taipei and not only the Republic of China’s (ROC) first Taiwan-born president, but its first directly elected one as well. Educated in the Japanese educational system of the time, Lee, who spoke Japanese, Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Mandarin and English, won a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He earned a bachelor’s