Wen Jiabao, premier of China, lashed out on Monday at demands for Beijing to allow its currency to appreciate, and suggested foreign pressure for a strong currency could be aimed at reining in the country’s economic development.
Speaking at the conclusion of an EU-China summit in Nanjing, Mr Wen said: “Some countries on the one hand want the renminbi to appreciate, but on the other hand engage in brazen trade protectionism against China. This is unfair. Their measures are a restriction on China’s development.”
He gave no hint that currency policy would change, repeating the standard form of words Beijing uses to describe its management of the renminbi.
“We will maintain the stability of the renminbi at a reasonable and balanced level …Maintaining the basic stability of the renminbi exchange rate has benefited China’s economic development and benefited world economic recovery.”
The renminbi has been repegged to the US dollar since mid-2008, putting on ice the Chinese currency’s tightly managed rise during the previous three years against the dollar.
By being repegged through a period of dollar weakness, the Chinese currency has depreciated sharply against the euro, the yen and other major currencies in the past six months.
The European delegation did not mention the renminbi after Monday’s talks, and abruptly cancelled a press briefing in which it would have faced uncomfortable questions about Mr Wen’s aggressive tone.
European officials, speaking on Sunday after senior eurozone figures had met Mr Wen and other Chinese policymakers, made clear they had made little progress on the currency issue with Beijing.
Though he showed no inclination to yield to European pressure on the renminbi, Mr Wen said China was “solemn and serious” in its vow to cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output 40-45 per cent by 2020 compared with levels in 2005.
But developed countries must lead the way in climate change talks next week in Copenhagen, and provide finance and technology to developing countries such as China, to tackle global warming, he said.
“We welcome and appreciate that China has presented quantified national targets. This is an important step towards an agreement in Copenhagen,” said Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency. But this and other climate change offers were insufficient.
“The global efforts put on the table for mitigation are not enough …More needs to be done,” he said.
Officials said the Commission would ask EU ministers in December to extend dumping duties on shoes from China and Vietnam, a plan rejected by an EU trade panel last month.
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