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September 22, 2017

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US treasury secretary to urge China to play fair

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will urge China to play by the rules economically when he meets top officials in Beijing next week, officials said.

Lew will spend Tuesday in talks with Chinese counterparts, with China's reform agenda, the coming annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and "efforts to level the playing field for U.S. workers and firms" on the stated agenda.

"As China continues to grow, our top priority will continue to be to encourage China to do so in a way that is fair, balanced and consistent with the international rules," a senior Treasury official told reporters in a briefing about the trip.

The official said Washington wants Beijing to strengthen the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, including stopping trade secret thefts.

The U.S. also wants China to improve opportunities for American businesses to enter its markets, including opening up to investment in the services sector.

"There are a host of issues that the secretary will want to raise, all of which are important to making the relationship more balanced and fair."

It will be Lew's third trip to China since taking up the Treasury position in February 2013.

On April 30, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative singled out China's efforts to steal U.S. trade secrets as "significant concern" in an annual report that again branded the country as a top violator of intellectual property rights.

Also last month, the Treasury warned China over the recent fall in the value of the yuan currency, saying the slide could "raise particularly serious concerns" if it represents a reversal in Beijing's commitment to a more free-floating yuan.

"Obviously China's exchange rate policy is important to us. It's important that they continue to move towards a market-determined exchange rate," the official said.

Lew said he would encourage China to continue implementing long-term economic reforms, even as the country is going through a rough patch currently.

"What they can't do is treat the long-term reforms as something that they can just put off," he told Bloomberg TV.

"They know that their economy, if it doesn't move more toward market-determined prices ... is not going to give them the medium- and long-term growth they need."

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