US negotiators led off the 2011 Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) by focusing on human rights, in particular reports of arrests and disappearances of artists, journalists and bloggers, Bloomberg reported. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the criticisms were friendly in tone, but Vice President Joe Biden said the criticism would continue, even at the risk of alienating Chinese authorities, who have consistently described any discussion of China’s domestic human rights policies as interference. State Councilor Dai Bingguo rejected the criticism and said the US should “learn first-hand” about China’s “enormous progress” on human rights issues. American voters are more concerned about economic issues at present, including the renminbi exchange rate, aggravated by April’s trade figures, which showed China’s trade surplus beat forecasts. The Chinese position on its own currency policy at the SED is more conflicted than in the past. Wen Jiabao said last month that a stronger renminbi may play a role in reining in consumer price inflation, but Commerce Minister Chen Deming said that the current rate of appreciation is adequate and should not accelerate.