09/24/2010, 00.00
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Wen Jiabao, an outstanding partner but China must “do more, says Obama

After meeting the Chinese leader in private, the US president gives Beijing more time to do more on yuan issue, kept deliberately low according to members of the US Congress. US leader praises China for its action during the financial crisis.

New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Wen Jiabao is an "outstanding partner" and co-operation between the US and China "has been absolutely critical" to easing the financial crisis, US President Barack Obama said. Nonetheless, demands that China “do more” on the currency issue and revalue the yuan dominated the talks held between the US president and the Chinese prime minister.

Obama told Wen the US wants to see a more rapid and “significant” rise in the yuan’s value, Jeff Bader, Obama’s director of Asian affairs, said at a briefing later.

The meeting came a few hours before a vote in a committee of the US House of Representatives on a proposal that would grant the president the power to impose sanctions on China if the renmimbi stayed undervalued. If the committee approves the bill, it could go the whole House next week.

According to the US administration, the Chinese currency is significantly undervalued, but is reluctant to accuse formally China of currency manipulation, and this despite pressures from Congress.

After their meeting, Obama and Premier Wen steered clear of the issue, but it was clearly the main topic of discussion, especially since it greatly affects the American economy. Publicly though, the two leaders did agree on the necessity to work together to further economic recovery.

As he described the Chinese prime minister an “outstanding partner”, the US president noted, “Along with President Hu, Premier Wen I think has exhibited extraordinary openness and cooperation with us as we try to strengthen the relationship between our two countries”. In addition, “We have worked together on a whole range of issues," Obama said, with US-China cooperation "absolutely critical" in dealing with the "financial crisis and the recession that travelled around the world over the last several years."

Since 19 June when China announced a more flexible exchange rate policy, the yuan has gained 1.8 per cent against the US dollar, settling around 6.69 yuan, the highest level since 1993.

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