Hu urges US to ease high-tech export restrictions

CHICAGO, Jan 20, 2011 (AFP) - President Hu Jintao urged the United States Thursday to ease restrictions on high-tech exports to China after Beijing and Washington signed $45 billion in trade deals during his US visit.

"China wishes to work with the United States to fully tap our cooperation potential in fiscal, financial, energy, environmental, infrastructure development and other fields," Hu said in a speech to political and business leaders in Chicago.

"We hope the United States will work in the same spirit and relax its control on high-tech exports to China as soon as possible in order to boost its exports to China."

Hu flew to Chicago after meeting with President Barack Obama and political and business leaders in Washington and attending a lavish state dinner on Wednesday.

AFP - Chinese President Hu Jintao (C) in Chicago

Obama -- facing domestic suspicions that China has ridden roughshod over trade rules and US manufacturers -- stressed the 45 billion dollars in trade deals would support 235,000 US jobs.

But he also insisted Wednesday on a "level playing field" for US companies, referring to disputes that have often bubbled to the surface as China's economic clout has grown.

Hu echoed those words in his speech at a Chicago reception Thursday.

"We hope the US side will provide a level playing field for Chinese companies pushing to invest in the United States so that they will have more opportunities to contribute to the development of the US economy," he said through an interpreter.

Hu also urged greater cooperation on trade.

"We believe that when trade issues arise between China and the United States the two sides should seek a proper solution through candid consultations on an equal footing and in a spirit of mutual respect," he said.

"Both China and the United States are major trading nations and benefit from free trade. Our two countries should play an exemplary role in building and improving the global trading regime, advancing the Doha round negotiations and rejecting protectionism."

Top US lawmakers said earlier Thursday they had pressed Hu on rampant intellectual property theft during a meeting on Capitol Hill.

House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Hu "admitted that they weren't as far along as they would they would like to be, and maybe came to the game late, but indicated that they were hard at work in trying to meet the expectations of the global economy."

US lawmakers also charge that Beijing keeps its currency -- and thereby its exports -- artificially cheap, hurting their US competitors at a time of deep US worries about historically high unemployment.

Hu told the Chicago reception that both countries are working to recover from the economic downturn and financial crisis, and that there is great opportunity for US businesses in China.

"China is focusing on building long term mechanisms to boost domestic demand and ensure its economic growth is driven by consumption, investment and export together," Hu said.

He also pledged to "further increase imports."

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