Schumer makes new threat on China

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is threatening China again. 

He promised on Wednesday to move legislation within two weeks hitting China for its currency policy.

His legislation would allow Washington to consider a country’s monetary policy when calculating trade duties on imports, and could lead to higher tariffs on Chinese products.

Schumer previously promised a vote on his legislation before May, but that didn’t happen.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner put off a report in April on whether China manipulates its currency to secure a trade advantage. The decision contributed to warming relations between Washington and Beijing, which have bickered this year over several economic issues.

Currency has been the biggest fight, as American labor groups and manufacturers say China’s low currency allows it to export products more cheaply, killing U.S. manufacturing jobs. But it’s tough for the administration to take a hard line with China when it needs the Asian giant’s cooperation on issues ranging from Iran sanctions to the handling of North Korea.

Europe’s economic crisis has made it more difficult for China to revalue its currency, which rises and falls with changes in the dollar’s exchange rate. The euro’s fall has made Chinese exports more expensive in the EU, spooking a government determined to keep up its growing trade.

In animated testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission, Schumer said China’s deliberate undervaluation of its currency was responsible for millions of lost jobs in the United States.

“More than any single stimulus program we could pass into law, forcing China to revalue its currency is the biggest step we could take to protect American jobs,” Schumer said.

Schumer expressed disappointment with what he called a wavering stance toward China, saying it was time for lawmakers to “put up or shut up.”

Schumer said he was confident the bill would pass the Senate overwhelmingly.

“This is not about China-bashing,” Schumer said. “This is about defending the United States.”