President Barack Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao today that the U.S. public and businesses are growing “increasingly impatient and frustrated” with the pace of progress in relations between the two nations, a White House official said.
Obama “made it very clear” that the U.S. wants to see greater cooperation from China on trade, currency and protecting intellectual property rights, Michael Froman, White House deputy national security adviser, told reporters.
The U.S. president told Hu that in recent years there has been “more and more concern and frustration on the part of parts of the American business community about their treatment” in China, Froman said. “I think President Hu and his delegation heard the message.”
Economic issues dominated the talks between the two leaders today on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu.
Obama, in remarks before heading into a meeting with Hu in Honolulu, said other nations in the Asia-Pacific region are looking to the world’s two largest economies to drive growth.
“We are both Pacific powers,” Obama said. “And I think many countries in the region look to a constructive relationship between the United States and China as a basis for continued growth and prosperity.”
Earlier in the day, at a forum with business executives, Obama said that the current valuation of the yuan puts U.S. businesses at a disadvantage and ultimately will hold back China’s growth. The U.S. “can’t be expected to stand by” without getting reciprocity with China on differences over currency, trade and protection of intellectual property, he said.
One of the biggest sources of friction is China’s currency valuation, which the U.S. said is being kept too low, driving up trade imbalances. The U.S. had a trade deficit last year of $273 billion with China.
China’s yuan dropped 0.05 percent this week to 6.3424 per dollar, snapping a two-week advance. Exports increased 15.9 percent in October from a year earlier, less than the 16.1 percent economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast, data showed Nov. 10.
Lawmakers in the U.S. are pressing the Obama administration to take a stronger stand on China’s currency. The U.S. Senate approved a bill last month that would let manufacturers seek duties on Chinese imports if they prove they were harmed by manipulation of the yuan. It faces opposition in the Republican- controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has called the measure “dangerous” and said it “poses a very severe risk of a trade war.”
The legislation didn’t come up in the meeting between China an Hu, Froman said.
Ben Rhodes, another Obama adviser, said the concerns about China aren’t limited to the U.S.
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