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Bush under pressure to get straight answers from China


WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (AFP): US President George W Bush is to make his third visit to China amid mounting concerns over the Asian giant's military buildup, burgeoning trade surplus and human rights record.
Experts caution that any lack of concrete results from the Beijing visit, a key part of the US leader's Northeast Asian trip beginning Monday, could add to resentment at home against the scandal-plagued Bush administration.
Concerns include the lack of transparency in China's military budget and its weapons acquisitions, currency inflexibility, copyright piracy and alleged neo-mercantilist approach to obtaining energy supplies.
American suspicion is also rising over China's role as broker in multilateral negotiations to end North Korea's nuclear weapons drive as Pyongyang shows little seriousness in wanting to disband its atomic arsenal. "We've had enough talk. It's time to do something about it," said Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow as she and 15 other senators sent a letter to Bush on the eve of his trip, urging him to press China to take action over the record US trade deficit and conduct a substantial revaluation of its yuan currency.
The deficit hit an all-time high of 162 billion dollars last year and, in the absence of a significant yuan appreciation, could hit a record 206 billion dollars in 2005, according to a coalition of about 40 US industry, agriculture and worker groups pushing for laws to label China a currency manipulator.
A US Congress-mandated bipartisan commission studying relations with China warned last week of serious security repercussions if the economic concerns were not addressed.
Despite the tirade of concerns, US officials do not expect any major breakthroughs from the China trip, although Bush is expected to raise most of the issues, including human rights, with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Another report adds: The United States and China may have secured a hard-fought deal on textiles, but President George W Bush still has a battery of complaints to level on the trade front when he visits Beijing next weekend.
Bush, who heads to the Chinese capital Saturday as part of an Asian tour, is facing mounting pressure from US lawmakers for his administration to get tough over trade.