US seeks safety deals with China

Beijing trip aims to seal agreements on currency and food safety measures.

    Leavitt blamed the lack of proper infrastructure
    for China's food-safety problems [EPA]
    He said his chief of staff was in Beijing to discuss and develop the two agreements which he hopes will be finished by December.
     
    Leavitt said: "We believe that with the technology, the scientific expertise, and the commitment each side has, we can work together to correct the outstanding issues."
     
    Ginger alert
     
    The latest food safety scare came after the California Department of Public Health said that imported Chinese ginger might contain aldicarb sulfoxide, a dangerous pesticide.
     
    So far, no one has reported falling sick after eating the ginger, the department said.
     
    The warning comes as other Chinese exports including fish, juice, toys and toothpaste have been recalled or rejected around the world.
     
    Earlier this year, imported pet food containing Chinese wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine caused the deaths of dogs and cats in North America.
     
    Meanwhile, American and Chinese treasury officials are in talks on trade, currency and other disputes amid growing pressure from US legislators for China to stop currency manipulations.
     
    Reforming yuan
     
    Henry Paulson, the US treasury secretary, said he would again press for faster appreciation of the yuan and other reforms.
     

    "I don't want China to become an increasingly big political issue in the US"

    Henry Paulson, US treasury secretary

    On Tuesday he met Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of China's central bank, before attending high-level talks with Wu Yi, the Chinese vice-premier.
     
    A meeting with Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, is scheduled for Wednesday.
     
    Last week the US senate finance committee passed a bill allowing companies to seek anti-dumping duties against products from countries that have "fundamentally misaligned" currencies.
     
    Paulson said the legislation was the wrong approach and that he preferred achieving currency and economic reform through bilateral and multilateral dialogue.
     
    But he said he understood the reasons and frustrations behind the move.
     
    "I don't want China to become an increasingly big political issue in the US," he said.
     
    The bill drew criticism from English-language China Daily which said the bill promoted strong protectionism which risked undermining bilateral efforts to reduce the US-China trade imbalance.
     
    The newspaper's editorial said the US should instead concentrate on persuading its citizens to consume less and save more.
     
    'Impressive programme'
     
    A day earlier, Paulson visited Qinghai Lake, China's biggest inland lake that is shrinking due to rising temperatures, as part of a tour of China's efforts to reverse environmental degradation.
     
    He said he was impressed with a government-funded programme to plant vegetation on sand dunes and former farmland to reclaim advancing desert areas near the lake.
     
    "Climate change is a very important issue in this country, it's very important globally and it's very important in the US," Paulson said.
     
    "By coming here I call attention to what China is doing environmentally and reinforce what they're doing."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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