Bush offered a broad, blunt critique of US-Chinese relations on Thursday during an appearance before the American Society of Newspaper Editors.


He said Beijing should be "floating her currency so we can have free and fair trade with China".


The US trade deficit with China for February was $13.9 billion and Washington and other western governments complain the yuan's value makes Chinese exports unfairly cheap.


The yuan has been pegged at 8.28 to the dollar since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.

 

Stability condition

 

China has promised to move gradually to a flexible currency, but stressed that conditions such as the need for a healthy financial system and economic stability have to be met before it can do so. 

The US has a huge trade deficit
with its Chinese trading partner


But Bush's hopes to pressure Beijing into adopting a more flexible currency, thereby helping US manufacturers compete, have come to little.

 

The president also gave a strong statement in apparent reference to China's recent adoption of an anti-secession law in March, authorising an attack against Taiwan if it seeks formal statehood. "We expect there to be peace with Taiwan," Bush said.

China sees Taiwan as a renegade province and has threatened to invade if it declares independence.

 

Beijing's adoption of the anti-secession law has alarmed many in Washington who fear the mainland and the self-governing island are caught in a dangerous cycle.

The situation has been intensified by a build-up of Chinese missile deployments across the strait from Taiwan.

Blaming Beijing

 

Bush also said China's growing economy was partly to blame for rising US petrol prices.

 

"My view of China is that it's a great nation that's growing like mad. That's one of the reasons why Americans are seeing over $2 gasoline, because demand for energy in China is huge. And supply around the world hasn't kept up with the increase in demand," he said.

Bush described US ties with China as a "very complex and good relationship" and said he intended to keep it that way but said Beijing should welcome religious movements, for example.

 

"I'm constantly reminding China that a great society is one that welcomes and honours human rights, for example, welcomes the Catholic Church in its midst, doesn't fear religious movements," he said.

 

Officials at the Chinese embassy in Washington were unavailable for comment.