Tales from the Trail

One Washington day is not like another for Mr. Hu

USA-CHINA/China’s President Hu Jintao was feted with full fanfare at the White House on Wednesday, with a 21-gun salute, honor guards and a state dinner. Things might not be quite so fancy on Thursday when he goes to Capitol Hill.

There he will see Republican Speaker John Boehner in the House of Representatives, then cross the Capitol to meet Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Neither bothered to attend Wednesday’s state dinner.

Also attending the House and Senate meetings will be several other lawmakers who want a word with Hu about human rights in China, as well as China’s dealings with Iran and Chinese trade practices.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen plans to hand Hu an entire list of complaints in the form of a letter she sent to Obama ahead of the Chinese leader’s visit.

The letter from the Republican complains of Beijing’s “military posturing,” as well as reports that China allowed the trans-shipment of North Korean missile parts to Iran via Beijing aiport. It also calls for the closure of labor camps in China, the release of political prisoners, and “unrestricted religious freedom”.

Washington Extra – Ducking the issue

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on The Treasury Department's Report on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policies on Capitol Hill in Washington September 16, 2010.

We were all primed for the release of the Treasury’s global currency report this afternoon, which would have included a ruling on whether China was a currency manipulator. But a decision was taken to delay the report until after the Group of 20 summit in Seoul in mid-November.

Pressure from lawmakers and business had been mounting on President Barack Obama to act, but the delay shouldn’t come as a big surprise. After all, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Congress last month he wanted to rally the G20 around the issue and take a multilateral approach. Perhaps more importantly, the administration is conveniently ducking the issue until after the Nov. 2 congressional elections.

Some Democrats, who have made China’s currency practices an issue in their campaigns, are disappointed today. Our Breakingviews columnist James Pethokoukis says Obama should be given credit for resisting populist pressures for the second time this week, after also declining to heed appeals to impose a national moratorium on home foreclosures.

Washington Extra – Goldilocks Geithner

Not too hot, not too cold, just right.geithner18

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner performed a delicate balancing act on the Hill today. On the one hand, Geithner had to tell an increasingly angry Congress that he was serious about trying to persuade China to revalue its currency, the yuan. On the other, he wanted to head off the kind of unilateral action from Congress that could provoke a trade war, and endanger the administration’s efforts to engage Beijing on a whole slew of issues.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer raged that “China’s currency manipulation is like a boot to the throat of our recovery,” and accused Geithner of being the only person in the room who did not believe China was manipulating its currency.

“I share your frustration,” was the first part of Geithner’s message to Congress, acknowledging that the pace of the yuan’s appreciation had been too slow. But leave the response to us was the other, unspoken part of the message today. The administration would use the upcoming G20 summit in Seoul in November to try to mobilize other world powers to pressure China for trade and currency reforms, Geithner vowed, adding officials were looking at all the tools at their disposal to “encourage” the Chinese to move more quickly.

Geithner tells Congress: calling China names doesn’t get you anywhere

U.S. lawmakers are mad and want Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to step in and call China a name – ”currency manipulator” — which may not sound like much on city streets but can be quite an insult in world financial circles.

“At a time when the U.S. economy is trying to pick itself up off the ground, China’s currency manipulation is like a boot to the throat of our recovery. This administration refuses to try and take that boot off our neck.” That’s not a Republican raging against President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary, it’s Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York (where Wall Street happens to be located). USA/

“Mr. Secretary, although there may be some modest disagreement about what to do, I’m increasingly coming to the view that the only person in this room who believes that China is not manipulating its currency is you,” Schumer said.