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Hu: U.S. partly to blame for trade deficit

Bush, Chinese president to discuss trade, piracy, human rights

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Wearing a Boeing baseball cap, Chinese President Hu Jintao waves after a speech Wednesday.

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(CNN) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao told Boeing Co. factory workers Wednesday that China wants to open its markets to more American goods and investment, but urged Washington to relax laws that keep products out of China.

Hu's remarks came a day before a summit with President Bush in Washington, D.C., in which trade, human rights and the diplomatic standoff over Iran's nuclear program are likely to be discussed.

Hu arrived Tuesday in Seattle, Washington, where he dined with Microsoft founder Bill Gates. On Wednesday, Hu traveled to the suburb of Everett for a tour and speech at a Boeing aircraft plant. (Watch what Hu is doing for U.S. companies -- 1:56)

"I would say that Boeing's cooperation with China is a vivid example of the mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win outcome that China and the United States have achieved from trading with each other," Hu told Boeing workers.

China in November agreed to buy 80 Boeing 737 jetliners for more than $4 billion, according to a Boeing news release.

The United States had a $200 billion trade deficit with China in 2005, meaning Americans spent $200 billion more on Chinese imports than the Chinese spent on American goods.

Hu said Wednesday that China is working hard to level the playing field by opening its market to more American goods, but he placed part of the onus for the trade imbalance on the United States.

"We hope that the United States will take steps to promote the export of U.S. products to China, including easing export controls and reducing protectionist measures in the interest of addressing the trade imbalance issue in a better and more effective way," Hu said.

The United States restricts the sale to China of technology that has both civilian and military purposes, and it has urged the European Union to maintain an arms embargo put in place after the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

The United States wants China to crack down on software piracy and enforce intellectual property rights. Both are initiatives that Hu has promised to pursue.

Another complaint in Washington is that China has kept international goods out of the country by keeping its currency, the yuan, artificially low.

Beijing said last year it would set the yuan's value against several international currencies, which has allowed it to rise some. However, U.S. analysts say China must do more to revalue its currency if it is serious about opening its markets to international trade.

As one of the U.N. Security Council's veto-wielding permanent members, Beijing's support will be needed in the diplomatic standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions. But any move to impose sanctions on Iran if it refuses to halt its uranium enrichment program may be a tough sell in Beijing, which receives much of its oil from the Islamic republic. (Watch how Chinese energy demands affect oil prices -- 1:52)

Meanwhile, Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, and Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, have asked Bush to grill Hu on what they call "an unfortunate backsliding in China's human rights record."

In a letter released Wednesday, the senators said the hope that Hu's government would afford the Chinese more freedom has not come to fruition.

"Instead," they wrote, "Chinese authorities have grown increasingly adept at using the tools of technology to repress free expression and dissent, and to harass, intimidate and imprison those who would stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens."

Bush intends to raise the issue with Hu on Thursday, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Hu's visit to the United States is his first since becoming president of the world's most populous country in 2003. Bush and Hu have met in Beijing and on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Hurricane Katrina forced Hu to postpone a planned visit to the White House in September.

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