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In China, Paulson Speaks Softly

BEIJING -- Arriving in Beijing on Wednesday from southern China, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said he will press the Chinese government to move faster with economic reforms, with the goal of helping more U.S. workers benefit from global trade.

A number of American critics have complained, with increasing vehemence, that trade gains have lately been skewed in China's favor.

Paulson also announced plans to take part in a new semi-annual U.S.-China meeting on economic issues, billed as a "strategic economic dialogue." The first such meeting is expected to take place before the end of 2006, with backing from President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Paulson will represent the U.S. side.

Speaking before reporters at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, Paulson said ongoing work between the economic meetings would help create "a more constructive tone" for negotiations and lay a framework for a long-term relationship between the two countries.

In one of the most closely watched aspects of his visit, Paulson is expected to make the Bush administration's case for allowing a strengthening of the Chinese currency, the renminbi. In a speech in Washington last week, the Treasury Secretary said China's exchange rate "is increasingly being viewed by their critics as a symbol of unfair competition."

Yet the former chairman and CEO Goldman Sachs has also underscored that progress in currency reforms is not likely to happen on an isolated basis, but in concert with broader capital markets reforms.

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