US Treasury chief Yellen and China’s No. 2 leader express hope for improved bilateral communication
BEIJING (AP) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Premier Li Qiang expressed hope Friday for better communication after Yellen appealed to Beijing not to let frustration over U.S. curbs on technology exports disrupt economic cooperation.
Both governments used positive terms to describe Yellen’s visit to China’s capital, which was aimed at improving strained relations, and stressed the importance of U.S.-China economic ties. They announced no plans for more high-level meetings or to revive additional contacts that disputes over technology, security and other respective irritants have disrupted.
Yellen is one of several senior U.S. officials expected to travel to Beijing to encourage Chinese leaders to revive interactions between the governments of the world’s two largest economies. Treasury officials said earlier she wouldn’t meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and no breakthroughs were expected.
In a one-hour meeting with China’s No. 2 leader that lasted twice as long as planned, Yellen said Washington and Beijing have a duty to cooperate on issues that affect the world. She appealed for “regular channels of communication” and “healthy economic competition,” a reference to complaints that China is stepping up subsidies and market barriers to protect its companies.
At the same time, Yellen defended “targeted actions,” such as U.S. curbs on Chinese access to advanced processor chips and other technology, that she said they are needed to protect national security.
“You may disagree,” the Treasury chief said. “But we should not allow any disagreement to lead to misunderstandings that needlessly worsen our bilateral economic and financial relationships.”
Li expressed optimism about U.S.-Chinese relations. He said he hoped Washington would “meet China halfway” but gave no indication of possible changes to Chinese trade and other policies that have irked Washington.
“China’s development is an opportunity rather than a challenge to the United States and a benefit rather than a risk,” Li said, according to a statement from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The two sides should strengthen communication and seek consensus on important issues in the bilateral economic field through candid, in-depth, and pragmatic exchanges.”
The Chinese Finance Ministry called Yellen’s visit a “concrete measure” toward carrying out an agreement by Xi and President Joe Biden during a meeting in November to improve bilateral relations. The ministry called on Washington to make the next move.
“We hope the United States will take concrete actions to create a favorable environment for the healthy development of economic and trade relations,” a ministry statement said.
U.S. curbs on Chinese access to technology threaten to delay or derail the efforts of China’s ruling Communist Party to develop telecommunications, artificial intelligence and other technologies. Xi accused Washington in March of trying to hamper China’s development.
Beijing has been slow to retaliate, possibly to avoid disrupting its tech industries. But this week, the government announced unspecified controls on exports of gallium and germanium, metals used in making semiconductors and solar panels. The announcement jolted South Korea and other countries that import from China.
During a meeting with businesspeople earlier Friday, Yellen criticized China’s treatment of American companies.
U.S. and other foreign companies are uneasy about their status in China following raids on consulting firms, the expansion of a national security law and calls by Xi and other officials for greater self-sufficiency.
“I am communicating the concerns that I’ve heard from the U.S. business community — including China’s use of non-market tools like expanded subsidies for its state-owned enterprises and domestic firms, and barriers to market access for foreign firms,” Yellen said, according to a transcript released by her department.
BY JOE MCDONALD