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Economic showdown in China

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Five years ago today China joined the World Trade Organization. It is celebrating that anniversary by defending its performance as a WTO member. China’s official newspaper said the country has been an important contributor to the growth of the global economy. However The Financial Times reports U.S. officials believe “the record is profoundly mixed.”

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said the Chinese need to move more quickly on economic reforms. He’s leading a delegation of officials to China to discuss a variety of issues. As Marketplace’s Hillary Wicai reports, the makeup of the delegation, which arrives this week, is meant to show that the U.S. means business.

HILLARY WICAI: Paulson will travel with four other members of President Bush’s cabinet as well as two U.S. trade representatives and Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.

Bates Gill is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

BATES GILL: Short of a delegation led by an American president there probably never has been a delegation quite like this.

But Gill says that’s the point: to impress on China how important the US views righting their economic relationship. Gill says with the upcoming power shift on Capitol Hill the message to the Chinese will be clear.

GILL: The officials traveling over to China are gonna sort of play a good cop-bad cop and say if you don’t deal with us, the administration, on some of these problems like cracking down intellectual property rights violations, doing something about the trade imbalance, well then you’re gong to have to deal with the Democratic Congress.

America’s trade deficit with China is on track to surpass last year’s record $202 billion.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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