Treasury’s Yellen to visit China this week to expand communications

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will travel to Beijing from July 6-9 for meetings with senior Chinese officials on a wide range of issues, including U.S. concerns about a new Chinese tax law. counterintelligence, a senior Treasury official said Sunday.

Yellen’s long-awaited trip is part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to deepen communications between the world’s two largest economies, stabilize relations and minimize the risk of mistakes should they disagree, the official told reporters.

It comes just weeks after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing and agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping to stabilize relations and ensure that the two countries’ intense rivalry does not escalate into conflict. China protested loudly when Biden later called Xi a “dictator”, but analysts say the remark had little impact on efforts to improve relations.

The Treasury chief plans to tell the new China economic team that Washington will continue to defend human rights and its own national security interests through targeted actions against China, but wants to work with Beijing on pressing challenges such as climate change and over-indebtedness facing many countries. .

“We seek a healthy economic relationship with China, one that fosters growth and innovation in both countries,” the official said. “We are not looking to decouple our economies. A complete cessation of trade and investment would be destabilizing for our countries and for the global economy.”

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to give details of which Chinese officials Yellen would meet in Beijing. A second administration official told Reuters that Yellen was due to meet with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng.

Yellen would underscore Washington’s determination to bolster its own competitiveness while responding with allies to what Washington calls China’s “economic coercion” and unfair economic practices, the first official said.

One obvious area of ​​concern was China’s new national security and espionage law, and the potential implications for foreign and U.S. companies, the official added.

“We are concerned about the new measure and how it might apply, as it could expand the scope of what Chinese authorities consider to be espionage activity,” the official said, citing possible fallout on the broader investment climate and the economic relationship.

While no major “breakthrough” is expected, Treasury officials hope to have constructive conversations and establish longer-term communication channels with China’s new economic team, including at the sub-cabinet level, the minister said. responsible.

U.S. officials also reiterate concerns about human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority, China’s recent decision to ban sales of Micron Technology memory chips, and China’s actions against foreign technology companies. due diligence and advice.

Yellen would also discuss with Chinese officials a long-awaited measure by the US executive branch limiting foreign investment in China in certain critical sectors, and “make sure they don’t think something is more radical than it is. is or is supposed to be,” the official said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Ross Colvin and Nick Zieminski)

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