Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan were on Charlie Rose May 9, 2011, and I highly recommend a viewing of their conversation (about 40 minutes). Vice Premier Wang (via interpreter) categorically said that the trade imbalance is not related to the currency issue. Geithner basically agreed, though noting currency valuation is “important.” Wang also said that the U.S. is politicizing economic issues with Geithner agreeing. Geithner said both leaders need to fight the urge to do that in their respective countries.
Americans typically think of the Chinese government as a monolithic entity, but they really should see Wang Qishan and listen to how he describes China’s challenge in building consensus in transforming the pattern of growth (towards more consumption based). The Chinese leadership is a collection of personalities with their views and convictions too.
I was encouraged by Geithner’s comment that in the future in order for the U.S. to continue to exert influence, Americans must have a stronger understanding of the rest of the world. Wang Qishan says that it is not “misperceptions” but “lack of understanding” of China that is the problem in the relationship.