Washington: On the eve of the fifth annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a top American lawmaker on Tuesday urged Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to press China on a host of issues including unfair trade practices and cyber attacks.
Ahead of the dialogue, Senator Sherrod Brown also released an index of the effects of China`s trade, economic, labour, and environmental policy on the US economy, including the US trade deficit with China that has eclipsed USD 315 billion with China.
"The numbers speak for themselves: American workers and companies can`t afford more talk with China without action," Brown said after writing a letter to Kerry and Lew in this regard.
"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 US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue as an opportunity to push China towards addressing these very serious challenges," he said.
In his letter to Kerry and Lew, Brown called to combat the pervasiveness of trade secret theft, which he alleged has strained international business and government ties and risks economic instability by failing to protect the ideas of the producers of goods.
According to Brown`s index released today, the US suffered estimated material losses of more than USD 1 billion in 2009 and a 12.9 percent decrease in its employment.
Because of the government subsidies China allots its state-owned enterprises, as well as its lax environmental, labour, and other industrial standards, American products are oftentimes more expensive than Chinese products, putting US companies at a significant disadvantage in the international market.
According to Brown`s report, the average Chinese manufacturing firms in 2009 paid its employees a USD 1.74 hourly wage.
In his letter, Brown called for safeguarding human rights of Chinese citizens, including the right to free speech, access to information, and freedom of the press; free political prisoners whose only "offense" is criticising the Chinese government; and promoting more inclusive policies in Tibetan and Uyghur ethnic minority areas.
Brown urged Kerry and Lew to impress upon China to cease manipulation of its currency, which he sad distorts trade and weakens the global economy.
According to a 2012 report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, currency manipulation by foreign governments like China cost the US between 1 million and 5 million jobs and increases its trade deficit by USD 200 billion to USD 500 billion per year.