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Obama, Hu duel on trade at APEC

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao presented duelling trade agendas at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) here on Saturday, underscoring growing tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

business Updated: Nov 13, 2011 22:01 IST

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao presented duelling trade agendas at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) here on Saturday, underscoring growing tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

Hu and Obama laid out competing visions of world trade in back-to-back speeches, and Obama then warned Hu in private that Americans were growing frustrated over Chinese trade and currency practices.

Obama threatened punitive economic steps unless China started "playing by the rules".

Hu, speaking before Obama, sought to soothe concerns over market access in China.

At the same time he insisted on more clout for China as an emerging global power. He also made clear Beijing prefers to work through existing global trade architecture rather than allow itself to be subject to US-led efforts to pry open Asia-Pacific markets.

In their closed-door meeting, Obama told Hu that the American people and US businesses were "growing increasingly impatient and frustrated with the pace of change" in the US-China economic relationship, senior White House aide Michael Froman told reporters.

China has been reluctant to sign trade deals that would subject it to US-led efforts to open its economy further to foreign players, which would put its state-owned enterprises under pressure.

Obama sees increased trade opportunities as an engine for job creation at home that could help him through a 2012 re-election bid. But Beijing remains wary of Washington's trade moves, which are seen as part of a US drive to provide a counterweight to China around the Pacific Rim.

Obama has said the "broad outlines" of a deal had been reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional free trade pact being pushed by the US and eight other countries.