China Woos its Biggest Critics in the Senate
3-23: Three of China’s most ardent critics in the US Senate, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), traveled to Beijing this week on a fact-finding mission. To improve their outlook on China, the Chinese government officials afforded the Senators a great deal of attention. The three attended a number of economic meetings and dinners where Chinese officials presented the Chinese side of the current trade imbalance and the currency dispute between the US and China.
This trip comes at a crucial time in the US-China trade dispute. Concerned by allegations of Chinese currency manipulation, Senators Graham and Schumer recently introduced a bill that would slap a 27.5 tariff on Chinese exports. Although US business interests have firmly opposed the measure, the bill garnered 67 votes (enough for passage) in a non-binding tally recently, and may be considered on the floor later this month.
In hope of heading off the bill and its potentially devastating implications for China’s export based economy, officials hope to dissuade the lawmakers from bringing the bill up for a vote. By highlighting measures they have taken towards a free float of the Chinese Yuan, Chinese officials hope to sway the wary Senators.
As added insurance, the Chinese government spared no expense in rolling out the red carpet for the lawmakers.
| Sino-Russian Energy Cooperation
3-22: Russian President Vladimir Putin visited China this week to discuss economic and security issues with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Putin and Hu signed a number of agreements on Tuesday, including one that committed both sides to “actively pursue” cooperation on energy issues.
In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that there is “no doubt” a pipeline carrying Siberian oil to Russia’s Pacific coast will extend to China. The Chinese want the pipeline to include a link to China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, to help fuel their burgeoning economy. Russia will begin work on the pipeline later this year.
China aims to increase cooperation in energy and technology in order to meet a rapidly growing demand for energy. Russia, the world’s largest energy supplier, stands to gain from China’s appetite for energy’s dramatic rise.
| China Taiwan Rejects China’s Pandas|
3-23: Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has turned down the PRC’s goodwill present of two pandas. The President cited a lack of an appropriate habitat on the island for the animals.
Many speculate that since opposition parties arranged the panda deal, the President’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party is wary to accept the proposal for fear of handing a political victory to their rivals. Moreover, Taiwan seems wary to accept the pandas without first going through a rigorous set of evaluations and quarantine, as is standard for all international transfer of animals. China, however, is unwilling to allow the exchange to go through international protocol because it considers Taiwan a renegade province of China and wholly under its own domestic sovereignty.
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