A customer exchanges U.S. dollar notes at a bank in Beijing.
A customer exchanges U.S. dollar notes at a bank in Beijing. - 
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Bill Radke: Sometimes before a big international meeting, both sides will downplay the talks, lower the expectations. That's not happening this morning. Chinese leaders have brought a team of 150 diplomats to Washington, D,C. for two days of high-level talks and President Obama will address the group today. There's no hiding it -- economic tensions between these powers are running high, as reporter Tamara Keith tells us.

Tamara Keith: Scott Paul is the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and he has a unique way of describing the trade relationship between China and the U.S.:

Scott Paul: These tensions have been simmering for a while. We've had a trade balance that's been out of whack with China for a number of years. But the problem has grown really acute.

The Obama administration is expected to urge the Chinese to foster more consumption at home, so China doesn't have to sell so much overseas for it's economy to thrive. After all, American's aren't buying stuff like they used too.

And Paul says there's one other biggie that will probably come up: the Chinese currency. Many believe it is undervalued, which gives the Chinese a trade advantage.

Paul: It could be a painful conversation, but it's a necessary one and one that's long overdue.

Paul believes reducing America's trade deficit is key to strengthening manufacturing and creating new jobs here.

In Washington, I'm Tamara Keith for Marketplace.