11/05/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Hu Jintao in the United States for financial summit and to meet Obama

The Chinese president will head his delegation at the meeting among the 20 most industrialized countries. Obama will also participate. Beijing wants an increasingly greater role in international issues, although it is hesitant to open up its currency reserves of 1.9 trillion dollars.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - President Hu Jintao will represent China at the summit in Washington on November 15, among the 20 most industrialized countries, to discuss the global financial crisis. This was announced today by Qin Gang, spokesman for the Chinese foreign minister.

The summit, convened by U.S. president George W. Bush, is intended to coordinate common action against the crisis. But it could also be the first chance for Hu to meet newly elected president Barack Obama, who will not take office until January 20 but has been invited to the summit by Bush.

The encounter will include all of the leading world economies, including the emerging ones like China, India, Brazil, South Africa, a clear sign that any real confrontation of the crisis cannot omit their collaboration. Jin Canrong, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University in Beijing, observes that China, with its foreign currency reserves of 1.9 trillion dollars, and the oil exporting countries have the ability to make loans to the International Monetary Fund, necessary to meet the needs of the global financial system and assist in its stabilization.

Chinese leaders, who were approached on this topic during the Asia-Europe meeting in Beijing in October, responded that the economic growth of their country is itself a contribution to global stability. China is increasingly taking note that it is not removed from the global crisis and that its economic growth, founded above all on exports to the United States, Europe, and Japan, has dropped sharply: "only" 9% from January to September 2008, after being well above 10% for years.

Beijing, Jin continues, is convinced that joint action on the part of the international community to combat the crisis "would also serve China's national interests. And that is why Beijing is playing an increasingly active role in this matter."

Experts observe that China still has a reliable recipe for continuing the expansion of its gross domestic product. But the government has said that it wants to build important infrastructure in the country and stimulate domestic consumption. In this perspective, the state media today announced projects to invest 5 trillion yuan (500 billion euros) over the next five years, to build roads, ports, canals, and other infrastructure "to boost domestic demand swiftly." Until recently, the planned projects called for "only" 2 trillion from 2006 to 2020. In October, the state council approved the construction of nine railways, at 2 trillion yuan, to be completed by 2020.

But everyone is waiting to see how Beijing can support these substantial investments for years, if its exports diminish. Today the newspaper Beijing News reported that the finance minister has asked the agencies of the central government to keep their "basic" spending for 2009 at the same level as in 2008. Until now, it had grown by about 5% each year, in order to respond to increasing demands. In June, the minister had asked regional offices to "forcefully cut" their spending, in order to concentrate their resources on reconstruction after the earthquake in Sichuan.

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