Obama, Wen Pledge Cooperation as U.S. Congress Pushes for a Stronger Yuan

Despite rising impatience in the U.S. over China’s inaction on exchange rate reform, Premier Wen Jiabao and President Obama pledged to work together to help solve the global financial crisis. From Bloomberg:

In remarks to reporters before a private meeting at the United Nations in New York, the two leaders didn’t directly address the friction points between China and the U.S., including China’s currency valuation and trade.

China has been an “outstanding partner” and its work with the U.S. is “absolutely critical” in dealing with the financial crisis, Obama said.

“Obviously we continue to have more work to do on the economic front,” Obama said. More discussions are needed to achieve “balance and sustained economic growth.”

Wen said through a translator the common interests of the U.S. and China “far outweigh” any differences. He also said he wants to “foster favorable conditions” for a U.S. visit by President Hu Jintao sometime next year.

The New York Times reports on the Obama administration’s new strategy of using back channels to communicate with the Chinese leadership:

Early this month Mr. Obama quietly sent to Beijing Thomas E. Donilon, his deputy national security adviser and by many accounts the White House official with the greatest influence on the day-to-day workings of national security policy, and Lawrence H. Summers, who announced Tuesday that he would leave by the end of the year as the director of the National Economic Council.

The choice of the lead emissary was noted by the Chinese: Mr. Donilon is considered a strong candidate as the future national security adviser, or perhaps White House chief of staff, if rumors are true and both jobs are soon to be vacated.

The concrete results of the meeting were slim: Exchanges between the American and Chinese militaries are about to resume, after Beijing cut them off in a fit of pique about arms sales to Taiwan and Mr. Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.

But officials familiar with the meetings said they were intended to try to get the two countries focused on some common long-term goals. The Chinese sounded more cooperative themes than in the spring, when two other administration officials were told, as one senior official put it, that “it was the Obama administration that caused this mess, and it’s the Obama administration that has to clean it up.”


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