- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

China, U.S. locomotives

Chinese Ambassador Yang Jiechi called the United States and China the “locomotives of the world economy” as he predicted continuing growth for China this year despite the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

“America is now the biggest engine driving the world economy,” Mr. Yang told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a recent speech. But China, he said, is driving the economy in eastern Asia, where the gross domestic product of the region is expected to increase by 5 percent this year.

“One major contributing factor is the Chinese economy,” Mr. Yang said.

China’s imports from its neighbors rose 35 percent last year, accounting for 56 percent of exports from East Asian nations, he said.

“China has played a critical role in offsetting the vulnerability of the regional economies and worked hard for their growth,” Mr. Yang said. “During the East Asia financial crisis, China took a firm, responsible attitude, withstood enormous pressure and helped maintain the financial stability in East Asia.”

President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao “laid a sound foundation for the future development of our bilateral relations” when they held talks at last month’s Group of Eight economic summit in Evian, France.

“As President Hu pointed out … China and the United States bear major responsibility for maintaining peace and stability in the world, and promoting common development of mankind,” Mr. Yang said.

“The two sides share a good basis for cooperation on issues such as the fight against terrorism, crackdown on cross-border crimes, promotion of global economic growth, disease treatment and control, and environmental protection.”

Mr. Yang said that SARS, which first broke out in China, hurt the Chinese economy, but that the “situation is more stable and life is coming back to normal.” He noted that the World Health Organization recently lifted its travel warning on China.

“While precautions should be taken against SARS, it is unnecessary to panic when traveling or doing business in China,” he said.

Canada, you see

Today is Canada Day, and the Canadian Embassy used the occasion to remind the news media of the vast bilateral trade between the United States and its northern neighbor.

The embassy distributed a slick map of the United States, listing trade figures for each of the 50 states. With more than $ 1.3 billion in business a day, each country is the other’s biggest trading partner.

“Oh say can you see … the true north strong and free,” one side of the map says, combining lines from both nations’ national anthems.

Michigan has the most bilateral trade, at $65.7 billion a year, mostly because of the auto industry. The Ambassador Bridge, between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, carries 25 percent of the annual trade.

New York comes second, with $25.3 billion, followed by California, with $23.3 billion. Texas posts $14.6 billion.

More on N. Korea

After warning North Korea last week to give up its nuclear ambitions, the U.S. ambassador to Japan held out American aid yesterday as an incentive to the starving Stalinist regime of Kim Jong-il.

Ambassador Howard H. Baker Jr. told an audience in Tokyo, “If they [abandon their nuclear weapons program], it is my guess that the world community, including the United States — and I feel sure Japan and South Korea — would react in the most favorable way in terms of humanitarian relief … in terms of redevelopment of that impoverished country.

“It is not difficult to imagine those things would follow swiftly after North Korea changes.”

Mr. Baker said North Korea should accept multinational talks to settle the nuclear-weapons dispute. North Korea has insisted on direct talks with the United States.

As he did last week, Mr. Baker reiterated the U.S. position that the crisis is between governments, not the oppressed people in the North.

“It is not a question of hostility toward the people of North Korea but rather against the threat that the government represents to peace and stability in this region,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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