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On U.S. visit, China’s president says committed to reforms, open economy

(Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to reassure U.S. officials on Tuesday that Beijing remains committed to financial reforms and an open economy.

"China will not go backward in this process," Xi said at a forum for U.S. and Chinese governors in Seattle during the first day of his week-long visit to the United States. He was due later to deliver a keynote speech billed as a major policy address.

Xi’s visit will include meetings with tech and other top business leaders, a black-tie state dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama and an address at the United Nations.

Xi faces questions about his stewardship of the economy, which has been slowing after years of rapid growth, and about his government’s heavy intervention in stock markets after key indexes tumbled over the summer.

The United States will urge Xi to avoid "quick fixes" for its economy, such as devaluing its currency, to boost exports, White House chief economist Jason Furman told Reuters on Tuesday.

China’s recent loosening of controls on the yuan currency "caused turmoil" in global financial markets and U.S. officials plan to raise the issue of China’s volatile stock market, Furman said.

Earlier, a crowd of about 100 people – both for and against Xi’s presence – gathered peacefully outside the Westin hotel, where Xi delivered the speech to some 650 business executives and other guests.

Protesters included about two dozen representing Falun Gong, a religious group that says it is repressed in China. At the same time, well-wishers waved Chinese and U.S. flags and large red signs that read "Hello President Xi" in Chinese characters.

The Chinese leader’s visit to Seattle, which he called "America’s gateway to Asia" in prepared remarks upon his arrival, comes at a delicate time in U.S.-China relations.

Despite Xi’s reassurances on the economy, China faces a series of frictions with the United States on a number of fronts, including allegations of cyber attacks, tensions over Beijing’s disputed sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, Web censorship, human rights and restrictions on U.S. businesses operating in China. (SEATTLE, Sept 22/2015)





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