China's XI Is 'Open' to Greater Trade; President-to-Be Mum on Currency Manipulation

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Devaney, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The man in line to be China's leader for the next decade told business leaders in Washington on Wednesday he was open to a far more expanded relationship between the world's two largest economies.

This shows the door is open to trade between the United States and China, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said. It can only open wider and wider.

Mr. Xi, who is expected to take over from President Hu Jintao as the leader of the Communist Party later this year and transition into the presidency in 2013, visited with the business community on the second day of his trip to Washington before flying off for a nostalgic visit to the Iowa town he visited as a low-level Beijing functionary two decades ago.

In his first major Washington trip since he was tapped to take over the top job in Beijing, Mr. Xi had meetings with President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, congressional leaders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during his two-day stay.

While bilateral trade has exploded as China's economy has risen to world prominence, a number of issues remain, including China's large trade surplus, its respect for intellectual-property rights, U.S. openness to Chinese direct investment and American charges that Beijing is manipulating its currency for competitive gain.

Mr. Xi did not mention the currency issue and offered no major policy concessions in public, but asserted that China has been taking measures to increase imports of American-made goods.

But, he added, it was equally important that the United States adjusts its economic policies and structure on removing various restrictions on exports of high-tech goods, as the two countries work to balance trade.

U.S. China-watchers say they see promise in Mr. Xi's elevation to the top job.

Thomas F. Mack McLarty III, president of McLarty Associates and one-time chief of staff to President Clinton, called Mr. …