Sunday, October 09, 2005

Snow Trip Emphasizes China Over Japan, Reflecting U.S. Shift

Treasury Secretary John Snow's Asian itinerary reflects the new reality of U.S. economic priorities: two days in Japan, nine days in China. In 2003, Snow spent one day in Tokyo and two in Beijing. Snow's predecessor, Paul O'Neill, skipped China completely in 2002, spending three days in Tokyo pressuring officials to reverse a decade-long economic slump. Analysts say Snow's trip, which starts tomorrow, reflects an acknowledgement by President George W. Bush and his administration that China and its nuclear arsenal are more than just a security concern; China, on average the world's fastest- growing economy for almost two decades, also represents a challenge to U.S. dominance of the world economy, thrusting it to the top of America's diplomatic agenda. ``The U.S. is recognizing that China has economic clout on a scale that in some ways is comparable to that of the U.S.,'' said Brad Setser, head of global research at New York-based Roubini Global Economics and a former economist at the Treasury. ``That's changing a series of global political and economic relationships.'' ``There's a new competitive element here,'' said Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Washington-based Economic Strategy Institute and author of ``Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East.'' ``Suddenly these other countries have another place to go.'' On other trips this year, Snow has been reminded that the U.S. no longer is the only game in town. At iron-ore producer Companhia Vale do Rio Doce's terminal in Vitoria, Brazil, an executive explained how sales had increased 71 percent: ``Every day, I wake up and pray for China.''


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