Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) urged the Obama administration on Monday to press China on a number of issues that affect American jobs and businesses, including currency manipulation, illegal trade practices, cyber-attacks, human rights abuses and intellectual property theft.
“The numbers speak for themselves: American workers and companies can’t afford more talk with China without action,” Brown said. “Congress should act on issues like currency manipulation and intellectual property theft, and we need to improve China’s capacity to tackle serious environmental problems. Secretary Kerry and Secretary Lew should use this week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue as an opportunity to push China towards addressing these very serious challenges.”
This week, U.S. officials met with China for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which was launched by Vice President Joe Biden. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are special representatives to President Obama and will be joined by members of the Chinese delegation.
Brown urged Kerry and Lew to pressure China to implement more aggressive measures to combat trade secret theft, address nationally-owned corporations, improve environmental regulations and reduce pollution and to cease the manipulation of its currency.
Lew said the U.S. seeks “an economic relationship where our firms and workers operate on a level playing field and where the rights of those who participate in the global economy – including innovators and the holders of intellectual property – are preserved and protected from government-sponsored cyber intrusion,” according to Reuters.
China has denied allegations of its participation in cyberattacks that plague large American companies, saying it is also a victim of cyberattacks—including those from the U.S.
Additionally, Lew urged Chinese officials to reform the exchange rate, and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said it would take “at least five years to resolve those issues…”
“Exchange rate reform is an essential part of this process because it will boost the purchasing power of Chinese households,” Lew said, Reuters reports. “The transition will not be easy. But as long as it is delayed, risks in the system continue to build.”
A 2012 report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that currency manipulation by foreign governments costs the U.S. between one and five million jobs and increases its trade deficit by between $200 billion and $500 billion every year.