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China's Hu visits Boeing plant

By Staff
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EVERETT, Wash, Apr 19 (Reuters) Chinese President Hu Jintao today toured a Boeing Co aircraft plant, on the eve of a summit with US President George W Bush, where he will be pressed to cut China's trade surplus with the United States.

On the second day of a four-day visit to the United States, Hu was to tour three Boeing assembly lines and be briefed on the new Boeing 787 jet currently under development which the company touts as its ''super-efficient airliner.'' China recently signed a deal with the company to buy 80 737 jets worth about 4 billion dolars.

Hu was then scheduled to address several thousand Boeing workers at the plant near Seattle, and deliver what his aides said would be an important policy speech, before flying to Washington D.C. for his White House meeting with Bush tomorrow.

Hu dined with about 100 US political and corporate leaders last night at the home of Bill Gates, whose Microsoft Corp has been a major victim of Chinese software piracy. In a meeting earlier with Gates, Hu reiterated China would move against software pirates.

US industry groups estimate 90 percent of DVDs, music CDs and software sold in China are pirated. The intellectual-property issue is also expected to be on the agenda when Hu meets Bush, as part of the discussion on China's 202 billion dollars 2005 trade surplus with the United States.

In his dinner remarks, Hu stressed the expanding relationship between China and the United States.

''Today, many cargo ships are very busy crossing the Pacific Ocean, laden with the rich fruit of our strong trade ties and friendship between our two peoples,'' Hu said.

''I am sure that with the further deepening of China's reform and opening up, we are going to see an even broader prospect for the economic cooperation and trade between China and Washington state and China and the United States as a whole.'' China sought to quell US trade complaints before Hu's visit by signing contracts worth 16.2 billion dollars while Vice Premier Wu Yi visited the United States last week.

US officials have complained that China is moving too slowly to revalue its currency, the yuan, which they see as badly undervalued, making Chinese exports artificially cheap.

Bush has also said he would bring up Iran's nuclear program. He wants China to cooperate in putting more pressure on Tehran through the UN Security Council.

A Chinese spokesman told reporters on Tuesday, ''We hope that we will continue to work toward a peaceful resolution of the Iran issue.'' Hu said yesterday that China and the United States ''share common strategic interests in a wide range of areas, particularly in maintaining world peace, promoting global economic growth, combating terrorism and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.'' REUTERS KD KN2352

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