Two U.S. senators who are proposing trade sanctions on China for manipulating its currency expressed optimism Thursday that Beijing might change its stance but said they aren't ready to withdraw their legislation.
U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Charles Schumer, accompanied by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, held three days of meetings this week with senior Chinese officials.
"We believe that there is a very real possibility that the Chinese government and the Chinese people see it in their interest to let the currency float," Schumer said. However, he said, "The jury is still out. We still need some concrete signs."
The Senate faces a March 31 deadline to vote Graham and Schumer's bill, which would impose 27.5 percent tariffs on Chinese imports if the dispute is not settled.
China's government treated the lawmakers to unusually high-level access in an effort to persuade them to scuttle the bill. Officials who met with them included Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, central bank Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan and Vice Premier Wu Yi, a former trade negotiator.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman appealed to the lawmakers to consider the issue in the context of thriving trade.
"We should not resort to pressure or try to politicize or magnify or overstate those issues," said the spokesman, Qin Gang.
China's trading partners say the yuan's government-controlled exchange rate is up to 40 percent too low, giving Chinese exporters an unfair price advantage and hurting their foreign competitors, reports the AP.
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