U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has begun her Beijing visit with raising concerns over China’s “unfair economic practices.”
Speaking at a roundtable discussion with U.S. businesses operating in the Communist nation, Yellen said that during meetings with her counterparts, she will be communicating the concerns expressed by the U.S. business community including China’s use of non-market tools like expanded subsidies for its state-owned enterprises and domestic firms, as well as barriers to market access for foreign firms. “I’ve been particularly troubled by punitive actions that have been taken against U.S. firms in recent months.”
The U.S. Treasury chief said she is also concerned about new export controls recently announced by China on two critical minerals used in technologies like semiconductors. “We are still evaluating the impact of these actions, but they remind us of the importance of building resilient and diversified supply chains.”
She assured American workers and businesses in China that she will always champion their interests and work to make sure there is a level playing field. “This includes coordinating with our allies to respond to China’s unfair economic practices.”
While praising China for adopting a market-based approach that helped spur rapid growth and helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, Yellen said China has an enormous and growing middle-class, with consumers who are eager to consume American goods and services.
Yellen made clear that actions taken by the Biden administration to protect its national security are not intended to gain economic advantage over China.
The Treasury Secretary noted that trade between the two economic powers reached an all-time high last year. “And if it is fair, trade and investment can support American jobs at home and promote American innovation. A stable and constructive relationship between the U.S. and China is in the interests of American workers and businesses.”
Earlier, Yellen said she is in Beijing to carry forward President Joe Biden’s directive from his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November last year to deepen Washington’s communications with China, including on economic issues.
“We believe that it is in the best interests of both countries to make sure we have direct and clear lines of communication at senior levels. In the economic realm, regular exchanges with our Chinese counterparts can help us monitor economic and financial risks, and it can help create the conditions for a healthy economic relationship between our two countries,” she told business leaders.
Yellen, who is the first U.S. Treasury secretary to visit China in four years, also met with Prime Minister Li Qiang.
She told the Chinese Premier that Washington seeks healthy economic competition that is not winner-take-all but that, with a fair set of rules, can benefit both countries over time.
Speaking at the Great Hall of the People on Friday, Yellen said, “The United States will, in certain circumstances, need to pursue targeted actions to protect its national security. 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.”
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