U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to visit Beijing from July 6-9 to hold meetings with senior Chinese officials on various issues, including the U.S.’s concerns about a new Chinese counterespionage law, according to a senior Treasury official.
This trip is part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to enhance communication between the two largest economies in the world, stabilize their relationship, and minimize the risk of missteps during disagreements.
Yellen’s visit comes shortly after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing, during which he agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping to stabilize bilateral ties and prevent their intense rivalry from escalating into a conflict.
Although China strongly protested when President Biden referred to Xi as a “dictator,” analysts believe that the remark had minimal impact on the efforts to improve relations.
During her visit, the Treasury Secretary intends to convey to China’s new economic team that the United States will continue to defend human rights and its national security interests through targeted actions against China.
However, she also wants to collaborate with Beijing on urgent challenges, such as climate change and the debt distress faced by many countries.
“We aim to establish a healthy economic relationship with China that promotes growth and innovation in both countries,” stated the official.
“We do not seek to sever our economic ties completely, as a complete cessation of trade and investment would be destabilizing for both countries and the global economy.”
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, did not provide specific details about the Chinese officials Yellen would meet in Beijing.
However, another administration official informed Reuters that Yellen is expected to meet with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng.
Yellen plans to emphasize Washington’s commitment to strengthening its own competitiveness while collaborating with allies to address what the U.S. refers to as “economic coercion” and unfair economic practices by China, the official explained.
One area of concern is China’s new national security and espionage law, which could potentially impact foreign and U.S. companies, leading to broader implications for the investment climate and economic relationship.
Although no significant breakthroughs are anticipated, Treasury officials hope to engage in constructive dialogues and establish long-term communication channels with China’s new economic team, including at the sub-cabinet level.
U.S. officials will also reiterate concerns about human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslim minority, China’s ban on sales of Micron Technology memory chips, and China’s actions against foreign due diligence and consulting firms.
Yellen will also discuss a long-awaited U.S. executive action aimed at restricting outbound investment in China within certain critical sectors, ensuring that Chinese officials understand its intended scope and purpose, according to the official.