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By allowing the yuan to appreciate, China at least temporarily placated foreign trade partners that had expressed concern about the currency's value. However, the decision has done little to quell criticism from many U.S. policymakers and trade groups who are angry that the Obama administration refuses to brand China a "currency manipulator."
Still, while the yuan does need to appreciate, critics in the United States should remember that the dollar too is flawed, and that the uneven relationship between the two currencies has often worked to America's advantage.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has thrice declined to tag China as a currency manipulator in his biannual report to Congress. Geithner even delayed the release of the most recent report to give China more time to adjust its policy. That move paid off in June when just days ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) leaders' summit in Toronto, Beijing announced that it would allow the yuan to appreciate against the dollar. Since then, the currency has risen about 1% against the greenback.
Geithner, who made two visits to China in the spring for closed-door talks with top officials on the issue, called the policy shift a "significant step" in his report, but said the yuan remains "undervalued."
What matters now is "how far and how fast the renminbi [or yuan] appreciates," Geithner said, adding that the United States "will closely and regularly monitor the appreciation" of the currency.