BEIJING — China has lashed out at a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying the legislation to push China to let its currency rise violates rules set by the World Trade Organization.
Yao Jian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said Thursday the controversial House bill conflicts with WTO tenets. China’s official news agency Xinhua published the comments after the House passed the bill Wednesday.
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The bill, which is far from a guarantee of approval by the U.S. Senate or President Barack Obama, would tag undervalued currencies as subsidies for U.S. trade partners. The legislation would allow illegal subsidy investigations and penalties related to China’s currency.
Yao, Xinhua reported, said: “Starting a countervailing investigation in the name of exchange rates does not conform with relevant WTO rules.”
The House measure came after repeated threats from the United States, and ongoing delays by China over the value of its currency. The value of the Chinese yuan has remained largely unchanged since the onset of the global financial meltdown in mid-2008, despite widespread agreement that it’s undervalued. U.S. lawmakers have said the artificial value gives China an unfair trade advantage.
Meanwhile, the American Chamber of Commerce in China, a staunch opponent of the bill, said it believes the legislation puts at risk thousands of American jobs related to exports. In a statement, the business group said it believed the bill would fail at achieving job growth in the United States.
“Blaming China won’t help the US economy but this legislation may cost American jobs,” said AmCham-China Chairman John D. Watkins, Jr. “We call on the US Senate to thoroughly review the proposed legislation and we hope it does not move forward in the legislative process.”
In its statement, the chamber also said: “We believe that in order to enhance economic growth US lawmakers should focus on coming up with a response to China’s web of industrial policies, weak intellectual property protection and tightening market access.”
The U.S. Senate version of the bill is expected to come up for debate in November.