WASHINGTON (CN) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will travel to Beijing Thursday in a previously unannounced visit. A spokesman said Geithner will meet with Chinese Vice Premier for Economic Affairs Wang Qishan on his way home from two-day financial talks in India. The two will likely discuss Chinese currency valuation.
Geither is on his way home from two-day financial talks in India.
Congress has pressured Geithner to brand China a currency manipulator for undervaluing the yuan, which it has priced at close to 6.83 to the dollar for almost two years. American lawmakers insist that China’s tight controls on the yuan’s exchange rate unfairly benefit China’s exporters. If China were labeled a currency manipulator, it could face action by the World Trade Organization and trade sanctions.
In March, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the country’s economic head, insisted the currency was not undervalued.
China has been promoting more widespread use of the yuan for trade, proposing pitting it against the Russian ruble, the South Korean won and the Malaysian ringgit, but still does not allow for free conversion of its currency.
On the eve of the April 8 visit, Geithner said in a television interview that he thinks China is moving toward bringing its currency to the international stage as it creates a market-driven economy in what he called a “necessary” adjustment.
“They’re becoming more open to the world, and with that, you’re going to see the currency take on a broader role internationally,” Geithner said. “That’s a healthy, necessary adjustment.”
Geithner also said governments across the world need “more balanced, more stable” growth, including the United States, which he says is focused on increasing its savings.
On April 3, Geithner announced that he was delaying submitting a U.S. Treasury policy report on international currencies to Congress, due April 15. Geithner said he believes meetings over the next few months will drive policy changes that will help the global economy.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is attending the nuclear security summit hosted by President Obama next week in Washington.