China warned on Tuesday that its yuan exchange rate would be off-limits at the coming Group of 20 summit, urging critics of its currency policy to stop “playing the blame game.”
“In the previous three G-20 summits, a single country’s currency has never been an (agenda) topic,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
“Under the current circumstances, all (G-20) parties should ... contribute to the world economic recovery and strong, sustainable and balanced growth, instead of playing the blame game and imposing pressure,” the spokesman added.
Beijing took a first step on Tuesday towards honouring its weekend vow of yuan flexibility by allowing it to trade in a stronger band amid growing US complaints over the currency heading into the G-20 summit in Toronto on Saturday.
The move was widely seen as a bid to head off a nasty spat at this weekend’s summit, amid mounting accusations abroad that China’s currency controls give its exporters an undeserved competitive advantage.
“We will continue to steadily advance the reform of the exchange mechanism of the RMB (yuan) under the principal of independent decision-making, controllability and gradual progress,” Qin said, reiterating China’s longstanding line on the issue.
“This direction will stay unchanged.” Beijing had previously insisted that the currency's rate was not up for discussion at the G-20, which presidents Hu Jintao and Barack Obama will attend along with other world leaders.
The currency issue has been a constant strain on US-China ties, with members of Congress — facing mid-term elections in November — threatening trade sanctions on China and pushing for action at the G-20.