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U.S., China to Discuss Trade Issues

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

By the way, China is investing in a private equity firm, putting $3 billion into New York-based Blackstone. That deal came on the eve of this week's U.S.-China economic talks in Washington, D.C. Those talks will address a host of trade issues, and NPR's Adam Davidson looks on what is on the agenda.

ADAM DAVIDSON: For years, the Bush administration has taken a more conciliatory tone with China, while many in Congress have used far angrier words. Many lawmakers, especially Democrats, say China is hurting the U.S. economy by playing unfair by ignoring global trade rules. These days, with the Democratic Party running Congress, it looks like the administration has less and less wiggle room.

It needs China to give some concessions, or else Congress could respond with legislation that Chinese won't like. Specifically, the U.S. wants permission for more U.S. airlines to fly to China, for U.S. banks to buy larger shares of Chinese banks, and wants China to buy American-made technology that helps clean the environment. The Chinese delegation, led by Vice Premier Wu Yi, will meet with the U.S. group led by Treasury Secretary Paulson on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Paulson hopes for major Chinese concessions. But the Chinese delegation has expressed concern about what they consider a bullying tone from the U.S. They face their own domestic pressure not to give in too much. Thursday, the Chinese group visits President Bush, as well as several key lawmakers. If there are no big successes announced on Wednesday, Thursday's lawmakers meeting is expected to be a bit chilly.

Adam Davidson, NPR news. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Adam Davidson is a contributor to Planet Money, a co-production of NPR and This American Life. He also writes the weekly "It's the Economy" column for the New York Times Magazine.
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