Senior US and Chinese Trade Officials Advocate for Improved Trade Conditions

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Improving U.S.-China Trade Conditions – A Spotlight on Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s Visit to Beijing

The U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and her Chinese counterpart voiced their support for the enhancement of trade conditions during Raimondo’s visit to Beijing. The visit, aiming to mend strained relations, is part of a series of trips made by top-tier American officials such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Despite the expressions of optimism for improved communication, there have been no developments reported in areas like technology, security, and human rights, where tensions have driven the relationship to its lowest level in years.

China’s Efforts to Revive Foreign Interest amidst Economic Decline

China’s leader Xi Jinping seeks to revive foreign investor interest amidst an economic downturn. The Chinese government expressed readiness to build a more encouraging policy environment for stronger cooperation. This would be done with the aim to boost bilateral trade and investment, according to Commerce Minister Wang Wentao. However, Wang did not elaborate on possible initiatives.

Raimondo highlighted the ongoing efforts to set up “new information exchanges” for “more consistent engagement” with China. She stressed the import of a stable economic relationship, advocating for open, direct, and practical dialogue.

Tensions and Disputes in U.S.-China Relations

In 2022, Beijing had suspended talks with Washington on a range of issues including military and climate, in response to a visit to Taiwan by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Beijing’s Communist Party lays claim to Taiwan and disapproves of other governments engaging with it.

While the Chinese media has portrayed the American visits positively, China has given no signs of adjusting its trade, strategic, and market access policies that have drawn criticism from Washington and its Asian allies.

Before leaving for Beijing, Raimondo spoke about her expectations for “actionable, concrete steps” to advance commercial relations but did not provide specifics. She acknowledged the substantial challenges ahead.

Progress in Re-establishing U.S.-China Government Communication

In a significant move, Washington recently removed 27 Chinese companies from a blacklist that restricts access to U.S. technology. This decision, as Anna Ashton and Kylie Milliken from Eurasia Group noted in a report, could have prepared the way for Raimondo’s visit and suggests progress in re-establishing limited government-to-government communication.

Additionally, a major concern for China is the restrictions on access to processor chips and other U.S. technologies for security reasons. These limitations could potentially impede the Communist Party’s development of industries like smartphone and artificial intelligence.

U.S. Strategy on Economic Competition with China

In her meeting with Wang, Raimondo defended the “de-risking” strategy of the Biden administration – aimed at boosting domestic production of high-tech goods like semiconductors and creating additional supply sources to minimize disruption. This strategy has been criticized by Beijing as an attempt to isolate China and hamper its growth.

Raimondo assured Wang that the strategy was not designed to hinder China’s progress. She argued for healthy competition and noted that a robust Chinese economy that abides by international rules would be advantageous for both sides.

Future U.S.-China Relations

Despite the ongoing discourse, the Biden administration has also made moves that could irk Beijing. This includes adding 59 Chinese companies, including military contractors and semiconductor manufacturers, to a list of entities Americans are prohibited from investing in. Moreover, Washington recently approved a $500 million arms sale to Taiwan.

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