XIANGHE, China — Capping a week of top-level trade meetings marked by some acrimony, U.S. and Chinese officials said Thursday they reached several new agreements, including outlines for improved food and product safety.
But key issues remain unresolved, including a faster timetable for appreciation of Chinese currency, China's failure to protect U.S. intellectual property rights and delays in opening Chinese consumer and financial markets to global goods and services.
"We have had substantive, robust and engaging exchanges on a range of issues important to both our nations, including the integrity of trade, balanced growth, including financial services, energy security and environmental sustainability, and bilateral investment," U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. said in closing the U.S.-China "strategic economic dialogue" talks outside Beijing. "By building closer relationships, we have clarified perceptions and increased understanding, which is vital to keeping our economic relationship on an even keel."
His counterpart, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi, also said the talks have created a better understanding of important issues. Wu and Paulson agreed that more work is needed, however, and disagreements persist.
"Both sides need to discuss Sino-U.S. economic relations from a strategic point of view, and map out a better blueprint for future U.S.-China economic trade relations and cooperation," Wu said.
The two countries called for an end to growing nationalist sentiment and trade protectionism, saying antitrade legislation and action will only harm each nation's economic stability. China prodded the U.S. to stop looking eastward for the causes of its own economic problems, while American leaders pushed China to do better on meeting its global trade obligations.
China and the U.S. signed 13 agreements in eight different areas, from environmental protection to food and product safety. The governments will work together to combat illegal logging, increase the number of Chinese tourist visas for the U.S. and make long-term, bilateral plans on energy efficiency.
Even as they reached those agreements, new friction arose. Most notably, U.S. trade officials said they were working to find out whether China has banned the release of new American films within its borders, which The New York Times reported on Thursday. If such a ban has been imposed, they said, the U.S. will pursue action under its pending complaint against China with the World Trade Organization over intellectual property rights.U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez expressed concern over the film situation and said they have not had a definitive answer from China about whether new American releases are being blocked.
"We have spoken forcefully" on the issue, Schwab said. "It has been raised at all appropriate high levels."
Under its WTO entry agreement, China is able to limit to 20 a year the number of new foreign films screened in its theaters. But reports said all approvals for movies from the U.S. have been suspended, which could violate WTO terms. In April, the U.S. lodged two complaints against China with the WTO over intellectual property, including one case that alleged China encourages piracy by censoring and limiting legal movie and other entertainment releases.
A spokesman for the China Film Group Corp., the Chinese release vehicle for international films that screen in this country, was quoted in state-run media saying there is no ban on American films.
Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have risen to new heights amid mounting consumer concerns over safety of food and other products made in China, as well as with China's record trade surplus. U.S. officials maintain that China's undervalued currency is critical in leveling the trade field, but Chinese leaders said they will revalue the yuan slowly, at their own pace, to maintain economic stability.
Paulson described the currency "a proxy for reform" and said the value of the yuan itself is not going to solve all of the remaining problems in U.S.-Sino trade relations. However, he said a market-driven currency is an essential part of China being a true team player in the global economy.
"They're going to continue to hear about it until they get a market-driven currency," Paulson said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast