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Stable U.S.-China ties ‘profoundly important,’ commerce secretary says


BEIJING — U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Monday it was “profoundly important” that the United States and China had a stable economic relationship, grounded in “direct, open and practical” communication.

Raimondo met her Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, in Beijing after arriving in the Chinese capital Sunday night, becoming the latest in a string of senior Biden administration officials to try to reset the relationship between the world’s two economic superpowers.

The secretary comes to Beijing seeking to stabilize business ties and boost exchanges with China without walking back the firm line that Washington has taken on restricting the development of advanced technologies like semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

She insisted that Washington was not seeking to curb China’s economic growth. “A growing Chinese economy that plays by the rules is in both of our interests,” Raimondo told Wang.

“It is profoundly important that we have a stable economic relationship; it’s to the benefit of both our countries and, in fact, what the world expects of us,” she said.

But she also said the relationship was “complicated” and “challenging.” “We will of course disagree on certain issues,” Raimondo said. “I think we can make progress if we are direct, open and practical.”

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and climate change envoy John F. Kerry have all visited Beijing in the past two months in an effort to resume communications that ground to a halt when a Chinese balloon drifted across the United States in February and was dramatically shot down.

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But even in those two months, the situation on the ground in China has changed dramatically. The extent of the Chinese economic slowdown has become increasingly clear, with many analysts predicting it will fall short of this year’s 5 percent growth target.

China’s economy has struggled to rebound after years of harsh lockdowns: Consumers aren’t spending, and the real estate sector is on the brink of a debt crisis.

Furthermore, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who told Blinken in June that he would make a return trip to Washington, suddenly disappeared and was removed from his post, no reason given.

Seeing Raimondo on Monday, Wang, the commerce minister, said that Beijing was “ready to work together to foster a more favorable policy environment.”

He has previously insisted that China is open for business. But foreign investors have been spooked by increased scrutiny after raids on due-diligence firms and increasing use of exit bans.

It remains challenging for business people to enter China, and foreign firms fear their employees could be subject to scrutiny under Beijing’s expanded anti-espionage law.

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The Commerce Department has imposed stiff export controls on Chinese technologies, which Beijing has denounced as a malicious attempt to suppress its companies.

But in an effort to clear the way for Raimondo’s visit, the Commerce Department removed 27 Chinese entities from its “Unverified List,” saying none of these entities had been found to have ties to the Chinese military.

Last month, Chinese cyberspies were revealed to have hacked Raimondo’s email account, exploiting a fundamental gap in Microsoft’s cloud. The hackers, looking for information useful to the Chinese government, had access to the email accounts for about a month before the issue was discovered and access cut off, officials said.

POST AUTHOR: Meaghan Tobin

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