(Beijing) US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday in Beijing advocated “healthy competition” between China and the United States, despite trade tensions between the world’s two largest powers.
“We want healthy economic competition, not survival of the fittest, with a fair set of rules, which can benefit both countries,” Yellen said during a meeting with Premier Li Qiang.
The Treasury Secretary, who is making her first trip to China since taking office in 2021, also called for “disagreements” not to “deteriorate” relations between the two countries “unnecessarily”.
These statements come as some US politicians have been advocating for months for a reduction in Washington’s dependence on the Asian giant, amid rising geopolitical tensions.
Ms. Yellen urged caution on this point. “A decoupling of the world’s two largest economies would be destabilizing for the global economy,” she warned US business officials.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang, for his part, pointed to an improvement in relations between Beijing and Washington.
“Yesterday, as you got off the plane, we saw a rainbow” over Beijing, he told his host. “I think that also applies to the relationship between China and the United States […] we can see a rainbow.”
This visit comes a few weeks after that of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in the Biden administration’s desire to renew physical contact with Beijing, after three years of almost total isolation from China due to the health crisis. .
“In the Biden administration, Ms. Yellen seems to be more pragmatic” than others, Tao Wenzhao, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told AFP.
Through his visit, “I think we are reshaping, rebuilding China-US relations,” he said.
Same optimism for Chen Dingding, president of the think tank The Intellisia Institute, based in Guangzhou, who judges that this visit could have “positive effects” on the bilateral relationship.
“A small step towards better China-US relations would mean a big step for the world and the global economy,” also notes Lyu Xiang, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
In the morning, the US Treasury Secretary was able to have a “real conversation” with her former counterpart, former Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, as well as outgoing Chinese Central Bank Governor Yi Gang, according to an official. of the Treasury.
“They discussed the global economic outlook and that of the United States and China respectively,” the source added.
If no major progress is expected immediately by the Treasury, “this trip is an opportunity to communicate and avoid communication errors or misunderstandings”, pleaded Thursday Ms. Yellen.
The main sticking point is in semiconductors, with the imposition in recent months of restrictions to cut off Chinese companies’ supply of American technology, including chips.
China, which seeks to become autonomous in this area, believes that these measures are aimed at hindering its development and maintaining American supremacy.
On Monday, Beijing announced restrictions on exports of two metals essential to semiconductors and of which it is the main producer. A measure widely perceived as retaliation for American pressure.
“I am concerned about the new export controls recently announced by China […] We are in the process of evaluating the impact of these measures,” Ms. Yellen reacted to US business officials on Friday.
The latter are worried about the business climate in the country, after searches and investigations launched in recent months against some of them.
“The hope is that after [Mrs. Yellen’s] visit, there will be other important visits” between the two countries, Michael Hart, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, told AFP.
Since the lifting of health restrictions at the start of the year, many of the big American bosses have visited China, like the general manager of Apple Tim Cook, the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates and the boss of Tesla Elon Musk. .