The U.S. and China concluded two days of high-level talks in Washington D.C. without an agreement on trade, but the trade issue may mean different things for voters and investors.
Voters, of course, may be more in tune with the hue and cry on Capitol Hill about the inequities of U.S.-China trade, including an artificially weak yuan, closed Chinese markets and a largely one-sided balance of trade. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson once again pushed China to be more flexible on the currency issue. Some in Congress have run out of patience and are pushing for more tangible measures to prod China into action. Proponents of free trade, however, disagree, saying it is best to coax China into change, rather than force a showdown -- partly because it could alienate Beijing and deprive U.S. companies of future opportunities.
The balance of trade means something entirely different for investors and businesses, which want ways to take advantage of the booming Chinese economy, as well as ways to play its equally hot stock market. Given its different classes of shares, liquidity issues and potential volatility, the Chinese market is a particularly complicated one for individual investors. Risks can be high, but rewards can be great.
The U.S. has been prodding China on a number of economic issues for years. One president to the next has tried to lead on the issue, making symbolic trips to China, while Congress has been consistently impatient with the progress.
Here's a sampling of our special coverage, "The China Challenge."