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China Calls Romney Opinion Piece Irresponsible, Groundless

Comments by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney about China in an opinion piece were irresponsible and groundless, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said today in Beijing.

In a Feb. 16 article in the Wall Street Journal, Romney accused China of “abusive” practices in trade, intellectual property and currency valuation. He said he would not continue a relationship that “rewards China’s cheating.”

“These kinds of irresponsible, groundless remarks are not worthy of comment,” Hong said in response to a question from Chinese state-run media. “Maintaining the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations is the common interest and common responsibility of both sides.”

Romney has said during the campaign that he is prepared to label China a currency manipulator, saying it keeps the value of the yuan artificially low to encourage Chinese exports. The yuan fell 0.07 percent to close at 6.3019 per dollar in Shanghai today, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. The yuan has risen by more than 8 percent against the dollar in the last 18 months.

“Unless China changes its ways, on day one of my presidency I will designate it a currency manipulator and take appropriate counteraction,” Romney wrote. “A trade war with China is the last thing I want, but I cannot tolerate our current trade surrender.”

Clinton Criticism

President Barack Obama, who would face Romney in this year’s general election should Romney win the Republican Party’s nomination, has also taken China to task on trade in recent remarks. During his annual State of the Union Address last month, Obama said he would form a trade enforcement panel that “will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China.”

Hong also criticized remarks made last week by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on China and Russia’s decision to veto a United Nations resolution that called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. In comments last week, Clinton called their vetoes “despicable.”

“The comments by a certain American official we find completely unacceptable,” Hong said in response to a question about Clinton’s comments.

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