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9 Jul, 2023 17:41

US Treasury chief touts outcome of China talks

Janet Yellen has claimed that her visit to Beijing was a “step forward,” but she gave no promises on easing export curbs
US Treasury chief touts outcome of China talks

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrapped up her four-day visit to Beijing by claiming progress in repairing relations between the world’s two largest economies, but she stopped short of making any promises about easing restrictions on technology exports to China.

“No one visit will solve our challenges overnight,” Yellen told reporters on Sunday in Beijing. “But this trip will help build a resilient and productive channel of communication with China’s new economic team.”

Yellen’s meetings with Premier Li Qiang and other Chinese leaders followed a series of setbacks in Sino-US relations, including Washington’s alleged meddling with Taiwan and a February incident in which a supposed Chinese spy balloon was shot down after breaching US airspace. One of the most contentious issues between the two governments is a US-led campaign to block China’s semiconductor industry from obtaining advanced chipmaking technology, at least partly over concern about its applications in artificial intelligence.

The US treasury chief defended Washington’s export restrictions, saying “they are premised on straightforward national security considerations. They are not undertaken to gain economic advantage over China.” Chinese officials have claimed that President Joe Biden’s administration is “generalizing” the issue of national security in a way that sabotages normal trade relations.

Yellen pledged to listen to Chinese complaints about the trade restrictions and might “respond to unintended consequences” of those measures. However, she declined to make any promises about easing the export curbs. Beijing retaliated earlier this month, imposing restrictions on exports of gallium and other raw materials used in the production of semiconductors.

The latest high-level US visit to China came about three weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. America’s top diplomat claimed the talks would help stabilize relations, but one day after his trip ended, Biden referred to Xi as a “dictator” while speaking to Democratic Party donors in California. The Chinese government responded by lodging a formal complaint in Washington and summoning US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns to deliver an official reprimand for what it called a “political provocation.”

Chinese officials have repeatedly chided Washington for seeking to maintain “hegemonic” power and impede China’s development. Yellen denied having any such intention, saying, “President Biden and I do not see the relationship between the US and China through the frame of great power conflict. We believe that the world is big enough for both of our countries to thrive.”