Bush Prepares to Discuss Trade, Bird Flu on Asia Trip

Published November 10, 2005

| Associated Press

President Bush will press China to revalue its currency, reduce its trade surplus with the United States and curb the piracy of American movies, computer programs and other copyrighted material, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said Thursday.

Bush departs Monday on an Asian trip that will take him to Japan, South Korea, China and Mongolia — his second major overseas trip this month. He returned from Latin America on Monday.

The centerpiece of the trip is the annual summit of Pacific Rim leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, held this year in Busan, South Korea. The leaders will try to give a boost to global trade talks and expand cooperation against the risk of a potential bird flu pandemic.

The APEC leaders are expected to include in their final communique a commitment to combating the spread of bird flu, said Mike Green, the National Security Council's senior director for Asia. Among the most important steps on that front, Green said, are ensuring that governments at the local and national levels have good early detection systems in place and are not averse to sharing data about outbreaks.

But Hadley played down expectations of major announcements from APEC or other stops on Bush's eight-day trip. "He's not looking for any specific deliverables or specific outcomes," Hadley said at a White House briefing.

Similarly, Hadley said the trip would not be an occasion for new approaches to troubled talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The United States and North Korea, along with four other nations, are involved in talks in Beijing about Pyongyang's nuclear program.

"This is not a meeting for initiatives or new departures in terms of the six-party talks," Hadley said.

Bush's visit to China will be the most closely watched part of the trip because of tensions over a range of issues, from trade and energy issues to human rights and military matters.

Hadley said the president would press Chinese President Hu Jintao to carry out a commitment made in July to abandon its fixed currency exchange rate and move toward a market-based currency.

"The president will and has welcomed China's decision ... to abandon its pegged exchange rate," Haldey said, "but he will urge China to take further steps to implement China's stated objective of moving toward a market-based currency."

U.S. companies contend that China's yuan is undervalued by as much as 40 percent. That makes Chinese goods cheaper in the United States and American goods more expensive in China. The U.S. trade deficit with China is expected to approach a record $200 billion this year, putting pressure on Bush.

"Progress on intellectual property rights, currency reform and market opening are good for our companies but they are equally good and important for China's own future prosperity," Hadley said.

China and the United States agreed Tuesday to a three-year pact to limit Chinese clothing and textile imports, a deal that will help the beleaguered U.S. industry but cost the average American family $10 to $20 annually in higher clothing bills. Hadley said the agreement showed that the United States and China "can work together in mutual interests to benefit their people."

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