At the opening of the APEC summit, US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said member states must do more to boost demand and improve currency exchanges. For China, this is “too ambitious” as well as a potential problem for the Asian juggernaut. Clinton appeals to Beijing to improve human rights at home.
Honolulu (AsiaNews) – Asia should do more to stimulate global growth to offset the euro zone crisis, US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said after a meeting of Asia-Pacific finance ministers that started the APEC summit. US President Barack Obama is expected to urge the 21 members of the organisation to do more for the common good.
“Asian economies will need to do more to stimulate domestic demand growth,” Geithner said, if they want to avoid “the situation in Europe, and [. . .] continue to contribute to global growth”.
“While APEC economies are the most vulnerable to a global slowdown, they can also play the greatest role in contributing to the global recovery and establishing the foundations of strong, sustainable, and balanced future growth,” he added.
Although formally intended for all participants, the admonition was clearly addressed to Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The artificially low yuan and the huge trade imbalance between China and the United States are major causes of disagreement between the two countries, making Hu the odd man out at the summit.
However, “It seems that the current goals put out by the US side are too ambitious and beyond the reach of developing economies,” assistant foreign minister Wu Hailong said before Hu’s departure for Hawaii.
Indeed, Beijing cannot boost domestic demand too much for fear of stocking inflation, a problem in a country already shaken by about 100,000 episodes of social unrest related to expropriations and rising prices.
Hu also knows that China cannot revalue its currency, the yuan renmimbi, because it would lose its export dominance in the United States and Europe. At the same time, the countries represented at the summit are so economically interconnected that no other path appears possible.
In order to highlight China’s position, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also raised the human rights card.
“We are alarmed by recent incidents in Tibet of young people lighting themselves on fire in desperate acts of protest as well as the continued house arrest of the Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng,” she said. Hence, “We continue to call on China to embrace a different path”.
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