LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Talk has lead to legal challenges in th…

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Talk has lead to legal challenges in the economic discussions between China and the United States. The New York Times reports.

A year after the United States began a high-level “strategic economic dialogue” with China, the word “dialogue” hardly seems to apply.

For a long time, the Bush administration has talked — and talked and talked — to China about economic issues. But since the end of last year it has also filed legal challenges over Chinese tariffs on auto parts, export subsidies and counterfeiting of videos and DVDs, and it is weighing possible punitive duties on a range of goods.

The Chinese charge that the administration’s actions are aimed at placating Congress and that they violate the spirit of the discourse they agreed to join at the behest of Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. last summer. They also express concerns that the administration may be using food safety as a weapon with which to beat them up.

But Mr. Paulson and other administration officials say the recent spate of tough actions, including those on food and product safety, reflect a maturing of economic ties.

“We always knew there were going to be problems, even when we started the S.E.D.,” said Mr. Paulson, referring to the strategic economic dialogue. “But the S.E.D. was never about eliminating the problems; it was about how you manage the problems in a professional way to keep this relationship on an even keel.”

Congress, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with plans to punish China if it does not improve its record on economic issues, especially the value of its currency, which most economists say China is keeping artificially low to make its exports cheaper. The United States trade deficit with China was continues to grow; in May, it was $20 billion, up nearly 17 percent from the first five months of last year.

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