WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Wednesday rejected criticism of its exchange rate policies and said it was being made a “scapegoat” after the U.S. Congress threatened to slap duties on Chinese goods unless it revalues its yuan.

Many U.S. lawmakers, with strong backing from economists, believe the yuan is undervalued by at least 25 percent, giving Chinese companies an unfair edge in trade — one seen as more critical now that the U.S. economy is struggling to recover from the worst downturn since the 1930s.

The heat is rising quickly in the long-running dispute over China’s exchange rate regime, with a bipartisan bill introduced on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate that aims to press Beijing to let its currency rise in value.

With key committees of the U.S. Congress setting hearings this month on the currency issue, the bill’s co-author, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, said his move to “wake up this administration” enjoyed broad support in Congress.

“The time is right. Everyone is fed up,” he said.

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