WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will raise U.S. concerns over China’s actions in Tibet directly with Chinese leaders in Beijing next week, a senior U.S. Treasury official said on Friday.
Alan Holmer, the Treasury’s special envoy to China, told reporters the main focus of the trip was on investment and economic issues. But he said China’s actions in dealing with protesters in Tibet was a matter of concern.
“All senior U.S. officials do raise our concerns with the Chinese with respect to Tibet and we’d expect this trip to be no different,” Holmer said.
President George W. Bush said on Friday that Beijing needed to show more restraint in putting down protests in Tibet and telephoned Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday to say so.
Paulson is scheduled to arrive in Beijing Tuesday and to remain until Thursday night, but Holmer said it was not yet determined which officials he will meet during his visit.
China says 19 people have been killed in Tibet, though representatives of Tibet’s government-in-exile say 140 died in clashes.
Holmer also said Paulson will renew U.S. urging for Beijing to let its yuan currency rise more quickly in value, but pointed out that since it was freed from its peg to the dollar in July 2005 it has appreciated roughly 18 percent.
U.S. producers still insist it is undervalued to a degree that gives China an unfair advantage in selling its goods in U.S. consumer markets. Holmer declined to specify what message Paulson will deliver on the yuan.
“All I’d say is that the accelerated rate of appreciation is significant and welcome and we believe it should continue,” he said. U.S. lawmakers have complained that the Bush administration’s quiet diplomacy over the currency is ineffective and a tougher line needs to be taken with China.
Paulson helped initiate a so-called “strategic economic dialogue” with China in September 2006 and Holmer said the Bush administration continued to feel “intensive dialogue” was the best course to follow.
He said that while Paulson is in Beijing, some planning will take place on the agenda for the next round of strategic talks that will take place in June in the Washington area.
Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Editing by Neil Stempleman