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China Says Xi Jinping Visit to U.S. Won’t Alter Policy on Yuan

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S. next week won’t see a change in the country’s currency policy or be a procurement trip, Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said.

“If you think we will do something on the renminbi exchange rate simply for one high-level visit, that will amount to the manipulation of the exchange rate,” Cui told reporters in Beijing. “We have been consistently reforming the renminbi exchange rate regime and we will stay committed to further advancing the reform.”

China’s currency policy has been a source of tension with the U.S., with members of Congress and President Barack Obama’s administration arguing that the yuan, also called the renminbi, is undervalued, making Chinese exports too cheap and U.S. exports to China too expensive. The U.S. trade deficit with China increased to $26.9 billion in November from $25.6 billion a year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

The yuan closed at 6.2952 per dollar in Shanghai, from yesterday’s 6.2945, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. The People’s Bank of China set the fixing 0.03 percent stronger at 6.3009 per dollar, the highest level since Jan. 4. The currency is allowed to trade 0.5 percent on either side of the daily fixing.

Xi will meet President Obama at the White House on Feb. 14, and also plans meetings with Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and leaders of both houses of Congress, Cui said. On Feb. 15 he gives a policy speech in Washington before heading to Iowa, a state he visited as a young provincial official in 1985.

Bearing Gifts

Xi’s trip comes amid a surge in U.S. agricultural exports to China. China’s imports of U.S. grains, including corn, wheat, barley, sorghum and soybeans, surged 77.8 percent to 695,063 bushels from a year earlier as of Feb. 2, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Iowa is the biggest corn-producing state.

Chinese leaders in the past have come bearing gifts in the form of purchase agreements for products including soybeans, chicken and Boeing Co. aircraft.

Cui wouldn’t give any specifics on any business agreements that may be reached. “Of course we hope that the high-level visit will produce many economic outcomes, but this does not mean that the visiting party will send gifts to the one being visited,” Cui said. “We should not interpret this trip as a procurement trip.”

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