In Beijing, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen emphasized the importance of fair economic competition with China during her meetings with top Chinese officials and American companies operating in the country. Yellen expressed her concerns regarding China’s recent announcement of export controls on crucial minerals used in semiconductor technologies, stating that the impact of these actions is still being evaluated but they highlight the significance of diversified supply chains.
Acknowledging the challenges faced by American companies, including corporate giants like Boeing and Bank of America with substantial operations in China, Yellen assured them that the U.S. government understands their difficulties. She further expressed her unease over punitive actions taken against U.S. firms, referring to the spring raids conducted by Chinese authorities on three companies accused, without evidence, of spying.
Despite occasional friction and cool relations between Beijing and Washington, trade between the two nations is flourishing, reaching record levels in 2022. The trade volume of $700 billion encompasses a wide range of products, from iPhones and solar panels to soybeans. These economic ties are crucial for both countries, and Yellen emphasized the need to protect them during her discussions with the second-most powerful man in China.
Yellen defended the “targeted actions” taken by the U.S., such as restrictions on the export of advanced processor chips and high-tech goods to China, citing national security reasons as justification. She urged Premier Li Qiang not to let disagreements escalate into misunderstandings that could harm bilateral economic and financial relationships.
In response, China’s Finance Ministry expressed hope for concrete actions from the U.S. to improve economic and trade ties, emphasizing that a trade war or decoupling of the two economies would benefit neither side.
During their meeting, Premier Li, who had previously met Yellen, adopted a receptive attitude, remarking on the appearance of a rainbow as her plane landed and highlighting the potential for positive developments in China-U.S. relations.
Yellen’s trip aims to lay the groundwork for further bilateral talks, but she also intends to convey the U.S.’s firm position on issues that have caused Chinese dissatisfaction, such as controls on the sale of advanced U.S. technology to China.