U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Beijing on Friday, continuing a recent series of exchanges between senior government leaders from the world’s two largest economies amid a wide swath of geopolitical and trade strains.
“We seek healthy economic competition that is not winner-take-all but that, with a fair set of rules, can benefit both countries over time,” Yellen told Li, according to a prepared text issued by the Treasury Department today.
U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last November in Bali and “emphasized that senior officials from our countries should deepen constructive efforts on macroeconomic stability and address shared global challenges,” Yellen said. “I am in Beijing to build on that direction.”
“There are also important global challenges where the United States and China have a duty both to our own countries and to the world to cooperate and show leadership,” Yellen said.
Relations between the two nosedived after a visit last August by then House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to democratic, self-ruled Taiwan, over which Beijing claims sovereignty. After apparent improvement following the Biden-Xi meeting in November, ties plunged again after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over the U.S. heartland in February, setting off an uproar in Congress. Security concerns have fused with trade following U.S. restrictions last year on exports of advanced microchips to China, a move that has since led to tit-for-tat regulatory steps by Beijing that could limit its exports of minerals used by the semiconductor industry.
“The United States will, in certain circumstances, need to pursue targeted actions to protect its national security,” Yellen told Li. “And we may disagree in these instances. However, we should not allow any disagreement to lead to misunderstandings that unnecessarily worsen our bilateral economic and financial relationship.”
“I agree with what you said in your speech at the World Economic Forum that ‘differences should not be a cause for estrangement, but a driver for more communication and exchange,’” Yellen said. “It is my hope that this visit can spur more regular channels of communication between our two countries.”
According to a report by the Xinhua News Agency, Li for his part told Yellen that economic interests between the two countries are closely intertwined, and mutual benefits are the essence of China-U.S. economic relations. Strengthening cooperation is the realistic demand of and right choice for both sides, the Chinese premier said, according to Xinhua.
“It is hoped that the U.S. side will adopt a rational and pragmatic attitude, and work with China in the same direction to push bilateral relations back onto the right track at an early date,” Xinhua reported Li as saying. “China’s development is an opportunity rather than a challenge for the United States, and a gain rather than a risk,” he said. To that end, U.S. business leaders including Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Elon Musk in recent weeks have visited the country.
Nonetheless, Yellen arrived in Beijing days after China on July 1 implemented revisions to a security law that have unnerved U.S. businesses. China has this year raided American research or due diligence companies in the mainland such as Bain and Mintz on security grounds.
On June 30, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement advising Americans to “reconsider travel due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, including in relation to exit bans, and the risk of wrongful detentions.”
China “arbitrarily enforces local laws, including issuing exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries, without fair and transparent process under the law. The Department of State has determined the risk of wrongful detention of U.S. nationals by the PRC (People’s Republic of China) government exists in the PRC. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens in the PRC may be subjected to interrogations and detention without fair and transparent treatment under the law,” the statement said.
“Foreigners in the PRC, including but not limited to businesspeople, former foreign-government personnel, academics, relatives of PRC citizens involved in legal disputes, and journalists have been interrogated and detained by PRC officials for alleged violations of PRC national security laws. The PRC has also interrogated, detained, and expelled U.S. citizens living and working in the PRC,” the statement said.
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