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China yuan reforms seem "agonizingly slow"-Zoellick

By Staff
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WASHINGTON, Apr 17 (Reuters) China's currency reforms have been ''agonizingly slow,'' but the United States should not blame others for its own problems, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said on Monday.

''China seems to be saying the right things ... The head of the People's Bank talks about this in a way that would suggest they're going to move in the right direction, but the process of change seems agonizingly slow,'' Zoellick told the Institute for International Economics.

The former top U.S. trade official spoke to the group about expectations for the White House meeting on Thursday between U.S.

President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The Bush administration has been pushing China to move to a flexible exchange rate for years, and last week Bush urged Hu to make a clear statement on China's currency policies when he is in the United States.

In his remarks, Zoellick said Beijing's stated intent was ''to move to a flexible exchange rate ... the big question is the implementation and the pace.'' Zoellick argued it was in Beijing's interest to quell concerns in Congress about its currency policy and its openness to foreign trade.

''For those of us ... who want to keep America's markets open, we need to help from the other side to be able to demonstrate that it's a fair two-way street,'' he said.

At the same time, Zoellick said it was not fair to make China a scapegoat for problems such as the record U.S. trade deficit.

''For America's own future, I always find it unfortunate when we blame others for our own problems. So we also have to focus on things we need to do,'' Zoellick said.

REUTERS PDS PM0028

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