Members Press China on Iran, Currency, Human Rights
As Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Washington Tuesday, members of Congress and others are ramping up their calls for China to address a range of issues including the valuation of its currency, its human rights record and Iran’s nuclear program.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, right, gives an opening statement near U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during talks at a hotel in Beijing, Aug. 19, 2011. (Ng Han Guan — Associated Press)The China currency issue is one that remains a hot topic on Capitol Hill, particularly as the United States continues its sluggish economic recovery. The Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support late last year a measure that would have given the Treasury Department greater latitude in pressuring China to allow the value of its currency, the yuan, to rise.
But the measure has stalled in the House, where Republican leaders have declined to bring the measure to the floor, arguing that the White House must first make its position known on the bill.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who is up for reelection this year and is one of the strongest congressional critics of China’s currency policy, penned a letter to the White House on Monday calling for stronger enforcement of U.S. trade laws with China.
“China is one of the United States’ largest trading partners — and one of the biggest violators of international trade laws,” Brown said in a statement. “From currency manipulation to rare and raw earth hoarding to its outright subsidization of a wide variety of emerging industries, the Chinese government has shown that it will stop at virtually nothing to give its businesses an unfair trade advantage.”
“This week, as Chinese Vice President Jinping comes to Washington, the White House must take seriously its commitment to protecting American manufacturers and American jobs by standing up to China’s unfair and flagrantly illegal trade practices,” he added.
Late last week, Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) spearheaded a letter signed by 11 Republican senators pressing the Obama administration to “use (Xi’s) visit as an opportunity to address numerous areas of concern over China’s policies and practices.”
Among the concerns they list are: “China’s aggressive military modernization and the lack of transparency regarding the strategic purposes behind it; the importance of strong U.S. support for Taiwan’s security interests; China’s continued undermining of U.S. and international sanctions against Iran; the increasing amount of cyber-attacks and cyber-theft emanating from China; China’s failure to protect intellectual property rights; and China’s ongoing human rights abuses.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who is among those meeting with Xi at the State Department Tuesday, issued a statement Monday expressing concern about China’s “closed economy to U.S. companies, ranchers and farmers combined with its long list of trade abuses — including stealing the intellectual property of American businesses, subsidizing domestic industries and undervaluing it’s currency.”
“While Xi Jinping brings a change in leadership for China I am hopeful that this transition also bring changes in policy for the U.S.-China economic relationship,” Camp said. “China has been both an opportunity and an obstacle when it comes to our economy and American jobs. While China is a destination for U.S. exports, China still willfully and blatantly disregards its international obligations and impedes fair business practices.”