Visiting Beijing, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., pressed Chinese officials to accelerate the rise of the yuan, which experts say is undervalued by as much as 40 percent.
The Baucus visit--the latest in a stream of U.S. officials going to China to discuss currency concerns--comes shortly after the House overwhelmingly passed legislation that would allow the Commerce Department to impose countervailing duties on Chinese goods when it determines that the undervalued yuan serves as a subsidy. The Senate is slated to take up the bill during the lame-duck session--a point that Baucus made sure to mention.
"I think it is a very real possibility that a currency bill would pass and be sent to the president," Baucus told reporters today in Beijing, according to Bloomberg. "A lot of people think an undervalued renminbi costs jobs, and I conveyed that to the Chinese leadership."
At meetings with China's top economic official, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi yesterday, "Baucus stressed the urgent need for China to allow its currency to appreciate more quickly and pushed for a timeline on meaningful currency appreciation," according to a statement from the senator's office.
The yuan has appreciated only slightly since National Economic Council Director Larry Summers paid a similar visit in early September.
At last weekend's International Monetary Fund meeting, the United States failed to win strong international support for an effort to persuade China to let its currency appreciate.
Baucus said that in yesterday's meetings, the Chinese officials "took it in the spirit in which the information was given: constructively, respectfully and soberly."