Image via Wikipedia
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, February 20, 2009; Page A18
- BEIJING -- The global financial crisis is bringing out the worst in the trade relationship between the United States and China.
After three years of largely friendly talks about economic issues, both in the past few weeks have blamed the other for the world's problems.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner accused China of "manipulating" its currency, vowing in written testimony submitted for his confirmation hearing that the United States would act "aggressively" to remedy the situation. The U.S. Trade Representative's office, in a harshly worded and wide-ranging complaint to the World Trade Organization in December, alleged that China uses cash grants, cheap loans and other subsidies to illegally aid its exporters.
China, for its part, has bashed the "Buy America" program embedded in the just-passed stimulus package, calling it "poison to the solution" of the global economic crisis. At the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos three weeks ago, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, without naming the United States explicitly, blamed the financial crisis on unsupervised capitalism.
"The crisis has pushed the China-U.S. relationship to a flash point. From now on, it will either become more stable or more confrontational," said Mei Xinyu, a trade expert with the Chinese Commerce Ministry's research arm.
When Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives in China on Friday as part of her first diplomatic visit as secretary of state, she said she hopes to broaden the bilateral dialogue to include climate change and human rights. But it is economic cooperation that will be at the forefront of many people's minds.