WASHINGTON U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other U.S. lawmakers back from a trip to Beijing said on Tuesday they had been assured China would allow its currency to continue to rise against the U.S. dollar.
"Chinese officials confirmed that China would continue the managed appreciation of its currency and were urged by the delegation to be more aggressive," a Senate Democratic leadership group said in a statement.
"This was an important step because China's currency policy has resulted in an unbalanced exchange rate that keeps the cost of Chinese products artificially low and the cost of U.S. exports to China unfairly high," the statement said.
The bipartisan group included Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat who has pushed without success in recent years for legislation to pressure China to allow the yuan to rise more rapidly in value.
Other members of the 10-person Senate delegation included Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin and Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee and Senator Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican.
"The world needs its two largest economies to work together. We have to communicate and build mutual trust," Reid said in the statement.
"Our meetings in China helped improve that relationship, and our experience there was an unmistakable reminder of just how hard we have to work to make American more competitive with the rest of the world," he added.
The senators said they also discussed China's "aggressive
investments" in clean energy technology, geopolitical concerns such as Iran and North Korea, and U.S. concerns about China's record on human rights and its "indigenous innovation" policies that discriminate against U.S. firms.
The group met with China's Vice President Xi Jinping, widely expected to succeed Hu Jintao next year as China's president. They also had talks with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who will be in Washington next month for a high-level meeting on economic and policy issues with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
( Reporting by Doug Palmer. Editing by W Simon )