| On Trade, A Superpower Summit

A high-profile delegation led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, five other cabinet members, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke applied for trade relief in Beijing this week, a stark reminder for Americans of how the world has changed. Along with the Sino-U.S. trade imbalance, talks tackled China’s undervalued currency, intellectual property rights, and American hopes of opening up (China Daily) the Chinese market to foreign investors. The first semiannual Sino-U.S. economic summit was part of the “strategic economic dialogue” launched by Presidents Bush and Hu Jintao in September. Writing in the Washington Post, Paulson called the summit a “pivotal moment for China and for our relationship with that country.” But the trip yielded few signs of concrete progress. China agreed to allow the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq open offices in Beijing, but there was no agreement on letting the yuan appreciate. "We have a point of view that there's more risk in going too slowly than there is in going too fast, and the Chinese see that differently," (Reuters) Paulson said at the summit's close. This Backgrounder examines the major issues—trade imbalance, currency concerns, protectionism, and intellectual property—dogging the Sino-U.S. economic relationship.

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